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Tony Bellew accepts challenge from undisputed cruiserweight champ Oleksandr Usyk

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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Former WBC cruiserweight champion Tony “Bomber” Bellew 30-2-1 (20) has given the verbal green light to a fight against undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk 15-0 (11), who issued a challenge to the Liverpudlian after unifying all four sanctioning body titles against Murat Gassiev 26-1 (19) in Moscow, Russia on the weekend.

Not long after the winner of the World Boxing Super Series laid down the gauntlet in his post-fight interview, the 35-year-old Bellew responded on Twitter.

“Usyk I was BORN READY!! Let’s get this done!!” he tweeted on Sunday.

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“I’M ALSO READY!” replied the winner of the inaugural Muhammad Ali Trophy.

The 31-year-old Ukrainian southpaw made surprisingly easy work of Gassiev, the second-best cruiserweight in the world, outboxing him for almost the entire 12-round fight.

The 24-year-old Gassiev of Russia came into the WBSS with the IBF world title he won from Denis Lebedev 30-2 (22) in his previous fight. He defended the title by KO3 against Polish veteran Krzysztof Wlodarczyk 55-4-1 (38) in the quarter-finals and stopped US-based Cuban Yunier Dorticos 22-1 (21) in the 12th round of the semi-finals to claim the WBA strap.

Usyk entered the WBSS as the WBO champion, defeating former titleholder Marco Huck 41-5-1 (28) of Germany by TKO10 in the quarter-finals and then-WBC champion Mairis Briedis 24-1 (18) of Latvia by majority decision in the semi-finals.

In the final Usyk made Gassiev look decidedly second-rate; his movement, angles and remarkably high punch output had the home fighter struggling for an answer from the first bell to the last. Usyk was awarded the victory by scores of 120-108 and 119-109 twice.

After the fight Usyk was quick to single out Bellew as a potential future opponent, revelling that he would be prepared to move up to the heavyweight division to make the fight.

“I heard that Tony Bellew wants to fight the winner of the Muhammad Ali Trophy. I hope he sees me talking,” said Usyk.

“Hey, Tony Bellew, are you ready?”

“If he doesn’t want to go down, I will go up for him. I will eat more spaghetti for my dinner!”

Bellew’s last two fights have been at heavyweight, where he has stopped ageing former world titleholder David Haye in five and 11 rounds.

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