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Tony Bellew: "Oleksandr Usyk is better than me, but the better fighter doesn't always win"

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How can Bellew pull off a shock win over Usyk? (1:51)

Tony Bellew goes into his bout with Oleksandr Usyk as the underdog, but Steve Bunce explains how he can claim a shock win. (1:51)

Tony Bellew says he will be what Marvin Hagler was to Thomas Hearns when he faces Oleksandr Usyk.

Former champion Bellew faces the undisputed world cruiserweight king on Saturday hoping to upset the odds at the Manchester Arena, England.

Bellew (30-2-1, 19 KOs), 35, has returned to cruiserweight after a brief reign as WBC titleholder in 2016, after which he stepped up to heavyweight to twice stop English rival and former WBA world heavyweight champion David Haye.

Impressive -- and against the odds -- as the wins over Haye were, Bellew admits Ukrainian Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs), 31, is his toughest challenge yet.

But the Liverpool boxer believes his punch power will be decisive against the WBC-WBA-IBF-WBO champion, just as it was for Hagler against his fellow American Hearns in an unforgettable encounter to decide the undisputed world middleweight champion. Hagler stopped Hearns in three ferocious rounds in 1985.

"Stylistically Tommy Hearns is much better than Marvin Hagler, his technique and punching were better, but he just couldn't do it," Bellew told ESPN.

"He couldn't beat Marvin Hagler and it's because styles make fights. It's just the way it goes and I believe I've got a style that will cause Oleksandr Usyk a lot of problems.

"First of all I have genuine punch power. He has faced punch power before but has he faced a man that can detonate like me? Has he faced a man that can match him for speed because I can match him for speed.

"Remember, I'm coming from the light-heavyweight division. I used to be a light-heavyweight, and I'm much faster than cruiserweight. That's the reason I didn't struggle with David Haye's speed and David Haye is much quicker than Oleksandr Usyk with one punch, and much, much, more destructive with the way he hits.

"Oleksandr Usyk throws with much more variety but people can only punch you if you are standing still with your hands up around your head like Murat Gassiev did [in July, when Usyk won a unanimous decision to unify the world cruiserweight titles].

"No disrespect to Gassiev because he's an excellent fighter but on that night he froze and he was a walking punch bag."

Usyk has trained for years alongside Vasyl Lomachenko, the world lightweight and pound-for-pound No.1, but Bellew insists the cruiserweight king is not as good as his fellow Ukrainian.

"He is definitely one of the best boxers in the world, he's outstanding at what he does," Bellew told ESPN.

"He's pound for pound up there with the big boys, my best-ever opponent, but he's not Lomachenko. He has a lot more faults than Lomachenko. He has a willing desire to want and need to please, and that's going to be his undoing on Nov. 10.

"His willingness to exchange, his willingness to fight fire with fire. Lomachenko probably punches harder than Usyk [for his weight] so he doesn't have to be as exciting as Usyk and doesn't have to take as many risks.

"Usyk is less of a puncher than Lomachenko but comes with just as high a work rate so Usyk has to take some to give some to be exciting whereas Lomachenko has genuine power and he can stop fighters with that power. He has a couple of extra attributes that make the world of difference.

"There are openings -- but listen, there are a lot more openings in me than there is him. He has faults but I have many more faults than him. This guy is a better fighter than me, he is, I have no problem saying that.

"David Haye was a better fighter than me, but it's not about the better fighter because the better fighter does not always win."