Usyk and Bellew dance for us

By Ben Thomsett on November 8, 2018
Usyk and Bellew dance for us
There was no fear in Usyk’s eyes, only a sense of inevitable purpose. (Real Combat Media)

Bellew is a roughhouse fighter, all heart and guts and old school thunder. Usyk is a cultured and magnificent boxer…

“Fans think Bellew will KO Usyk after seeing embarrassing training clip.”

Or so the headline read. “What fans?” I thought. Not me. What possible clip, short of seeing Usyk drinking heavily from a vodka bottle and crying into his hands, could have led a British Newspaper to print such a confident statement? I clicked the link.

The clip was simply this: Oleksandr Usyk dancing to some music. He appears to like dancing. It reminded me how terrible anyone with a large frame looks when they are grooving to the beat. No matter how competent they are, the result always mirrors the teeth-grindingly bad scene of Jean-Claude Van Damme in “Kickboxer,” you know the one. Greasy-haired, biceps bulging, 1980’s generic “party” song in the background at the Oriental backwoods bar as his Damme-ness swings his hips and claps his hands and purses his lips. Hideous.

But, that’s not boxing. And it has absolutely no bearing on the Saturday night fight Usyk has with Tony Bellew for all the Cruiserweight belts which matter. I looked at the Newspaper proffering the baited shit dance clip as fact—the Daily Star—and kicked myself for being duped. Another click on a meter somewhere had registered another poor sucker. I should have realized.

The actual build-up to the bout has been quality news. No chair slinging. No bullshit Hip Hop lyrics. And no-one making a PR grab for all the ground they can, before hitting the deck. The worst either man has done was Tony Bellew saying he’d “Take his (Usyk’s) soul.” Hardly newsworthy. The pre-fight bluster has been relaxed, friendly even. Tinged with respect. One man supremely confident in his abilities and his place in the boxing world right now and for the next few years, the other just trying to show us what he believed all along: hope and hard work can take you places. If all you ever saw of boxing was an interview with Usyk and Bellew, you’d come away thinking the sport was worth something. In the final presser, Bellew spent most of his time praising Usyk. For his part, Usyk sat almost emotionless, excepting for one glorious moment when he fought for a good thirty seconds to stifle a laugh. It was the kind of laugh that only someone who knows the punchline expresses. There was no fear in Usyk’s eyes, only joy and a sense of inevitable purpose.

Taking a fresher approach—some would say staid, but they are wrong—to conducting themselves in public, both men are worth listening to. Bellew is a talker, but he comes across as genuine and likeable. Usyk famously hates the limelight but is also similarly engaging.

In the ring, though, is where that similarity ends. Bellew is a roughhouse fighter, all heart and guts and old school thunder. Usyk is a cultured and magnificent boxer. Not the hardest hitter, but tick, tick, tick with his punches. Like a living metronome. His movement alone would tire most opponents. Shawn Porter fought (and beat) Usyk in 2006 and recently said of him:

“He was tall, rangy, had a great jab and even back then he had very good boxing moves. He knew his range really well, he knew his distance really well which is something a lot of fighters take time to work out properly. He didn’t waste punches and he was really, really competitive—everything you see now.”

The fight on Saturday won’t pull in the kind of PPV figures that rabid jingoistic Joshua fans can generate, but old Tony is a demi-God in Liverpool and has a big following across the wider British boxing scene. He is a good guy and, despite one crass story to the contrary, most of the Manchester Arena will be cheering him on with sincerity.

Eddie Hearn is already lining up Usyk for Anthony Joshua when he steps up to heavyweight after the Bellew fight. “Possibly in 2019 for Joshua,” Hearn said yesterday. Joshua himself fancies a future meeting, and Usyk would certainly add a touch of class to a largely classless division. Tune in (£20). Sit back. Cheer for either man. Dance. It’s the last waltz for Bellew anyhow. For many good reasons, they both deserve the win.

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  1. Lucas McCain 03:46pm, 11/10/2018

    Didn’t see it, but sounds like a replay of Braddock-Joe Louis.  Beloved, scrappy underdog does surprisingly well at first, then the star lowers the boom in round 8.

  2. Koolz 03:07pm, 11/09/2018

    Usyk trains with Lomachenko and that means Lomachenko’s Father!
    Where do you think he learned his amazing feet!
    Bellew will be trying to hit all night but won’t.

  3. Lucas McCain 12:39pm, 11/09/2018

    Sweet fancy Moses, leave the guy alone!  It was a fine tip of the hat to Elaine Benes & her thumbs-out Seinfeld dance.  If only Ed Sullivan were still around, they could all get together for a round of Night Train.

  4. Ho Lee Chit 02:21pm, 11/08/2018

    Damn. I just viewed a couple of YouTube videos showing the Ukrainian dancing. Ho Lee Chit, the guy looks mentally challenged. Man, someone needs to tell that guy there taint no geeking allowed on the dance floor. That was downright embarrassing.

  5. Casanovita de Ahome 11:23am, 11/08/2018

    BTW based on his uninspired efforts against “short round” GGG better stay the fuk away from Callum too!

  6. Casanovita de Ahome 11:12am, 11/08/2018

    Speaking of garden gnomes, Canelo cherry picking thanks to ass-screwed Vegas judging! Gets to beat up the guy that couldn’t last a round with Callum Smith who is taller than Usyk and Bellew and could whip the redhead’s ass to a frazzle!

  7. Lucas McCain 10:56am, 11/08/2018

    So strange to read that guy who lost to Shawn Porter is getting lined up to fight Anthony Joshua!

  8. Casanovita de Ahome 10:39am, 11/08/2018

    All the shorties in Hollywood claim 5’10”, if they could get away with it they’d all be 6 footers!

  9. Ho Lee Chit 09:57am, 11/08/2018

    Anyhow, JCVD is a little guy. He has, or at least had muscles back then, but the guy is not a large framed guy.  I hear his listed height of 5’10” might be an exaggeration by an inch or two as well.

  10. Ho Lee Chit 09:32am, 11/08/2018

    Man, I used to dance pretty good for a “big guy.” Well, at least for a big White guy. And if we include fat boys, what about “ReRun” from that old 70’s show, “What’s Happening.” Some big guys are lighter on their feet than you think. Hell, some of those guys in the NFL who weigh 275-300lbs can jump much higher, as well as much further,  and have much better times in the 40 than the average Joe who weighs 100lbs less. I have seen dudes weighing over 220lbs perform standing back flips. Lets see you skinny dudes top that. lolol.

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