Whatever the outcome next Saturday, Tony Bellew is hoping for a slugfest when he takes on undisputed cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk in order to dissuade him from continuing his boxing career.
The Englishman comes in as the underdog, just as he was against former world heavyweight champion David Haye in his last two fights. The Englishman had planned to retire after beating Haye for a second time back in May, but Bellew (30-2-1, 20 KOs) admits the lure of facing Usyk for all the marbles was just too much to resist.
“I need to know it’s time to retire,” Bellew said.
“I swear, I hope this fight is not over in two rounds because if I come out and land a monster punch — it would be a disaster for me because that would mean I would have more left to give.
“I can’t keep going on because I swear she will leave. But if this fight is as easy as the second David Haye fight, I don’t know.
“I shouldn’t say this but I’m hoping for a hard night, and I think I’m going to get it. I need the fight beaten out of me a little bit to be honest.
“I shouldn’t say that, I don’t want to tempt fate, but I need it beaten out of me a bit because I need this desire to want to keep fighting to stop because it has to at some stage, I’m not getting any younger and I’m hoping this is the night it does.
“I was retired until this guy called my name, I’m hoping this is my last fight. Many could call my name but not one person could call my name while holding on to four belts being the universally recognised best cruiserweight in the world, he had too much to bargain with for me to turn down.”
For Bellew, win or lose, this will be the end of an era. Having held the WBC cruiserweight title in 2016 before stepping up to heavyweight to fight Haye, the Liverpudlian has achieved everything that he needs to in order to have a comfortable life post-boxing.
However, Bellew insists his motivation for taking the fight with Usyk is not being driven by money — instead wanting to take the opportunity to upset the odds one last time.
“I’ve always said boxing will not retire me,” Bellew said. “I will retire from boxing and I stand by that statement. I’m very lucky because less than one percent of boxers get out of the game financially secure.
“I’m very fortunate to be in that one percent — I don’t have to work another day in my life if I don’t want to, even before this fight. In all honesty I didn’t need this fight. But what’s drawing me back is the chance to be great, this is the moment I never thought could be possible.
“I feel like I’m a bit stupid and a fool for doing what I’m doing because I’ve generated a lovely life for my wife and family and I’m very proud of myself. We live in a beautiful home, I’ve got money, if I wanted to go on holiday tomorrow I can.
“I’m just a t** for being selfish one more time — but it’s only one more time. I’ve put everything at risk again because believe you me, my health is at risk in this fight and I’m a fool for doing it but I’m doing it for a dream that nobody else can see but me.
“I see myself with those four belts. I don’t know why I see myself with them because on paper I shouldn’t even land a punch on this guy. But I know I’m going to find a way, its that belief in myself.
“Usyk could beat me, he’s beaten better than me so he could beat me, but I just don’t think he will and I will find a way. That’s why I’ve taken this on.”