Former WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew has said fighting Oleksandr Usyk is a mentally exhausting experience, but feels Dereck Chisora can pose a different set of problems ahead of their heavyweight showdown at the SSE Arena, Wembley, on Saturday night.
Bellew was surprisingly leading on two scorecards before Usyk’s breathless persistence broke his will with an eighth-round stoppage back in November 2018.
An exhausted Bellew collapsed by the ropes after the incisive Usyk dropped him with a fight-ending left hand and the Scouser feels the Ukrainian southpaw is close to the complete fighter.
“Usyk is perfect. He does everything great,” Bellew told Sky Sports. “I got emotionally involved, as always, nothing new there. But I was able to bring him towards me and counter-punch him really well at times, which nobody expected.
“Everyone just expected me to go hunting for him, trading and swinging. But I didn’t. I boxed him. Making him miss and drawing him to you is a good thing to do. But eventually it caught up with me. I was absolutely exhausted by the end of round seven.
“He mentally exhausted me in our fight by constantly having his front foot close to mine. That doesn’t sound much. But it’s mental pressure that he puts on you, not physical.
“He wouldn’t get involved in any wrestling matches with me. Every time we got close, I would dig him to the body. He’s vicious and brilliant.
“He isn’t the biggest puncher but I was exhausted in round eight. He stepped on the gas and got rid of me. But it will be completely different against Chisora because Usyk is against a man who absorbs everything.
“Chisora can bring the heat in a different way than I did.What Usyk does fantastically well? That front foot pressure put me under pressure all the time. I always felt like I had to do something. But that won’t matter against Chisora.
“Chisora won’t care where Usyk’s front foot is. My battle was technical against Usyk. I was winning it after six rounds but I was completely drained and exhausted by the end of round seven. That’s what Usyk is so good at doing.”