Jonny Nelson has described Tony Bellewas a ‘freak of nature’ ahead of his cruiserweight world title fight with the undefeated, undisputed champion Oleksandr Usyk.
Nelson, a former cruiserweight champion himself, told talkSPORT the flamboyant Ukrainian is underestimating the ‘Bomber’ – something which could lead to his downfall at the Manchester Arena.
Bellew will once again be the underdog for Saturday night’s fight against a man who is yet to show a single weakness in either his amateur or professional career.
Having won European, Olympic and World titles, the 31-year-old is rightly considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the game.
However, Nelson has warned the World Boxing Super Series champion to not be complacent against the resilient Scouser, having eyed up his rival one last time before at the weigh-ins on Friday.
“Tony Bellew is a freak of nature, “ Nelson told Alan Brazil and Sam Allardyce on the Sports Breakfast.
“Honestly, I just think; do not write him off completely. Usyk is a brilliant fighter, a brilliant specimen, but there is a narrow avenue for Tony Bellew.
“I think Usyk underestimates Tony – he’s been very relaxed, kind of dismissive in a smart, polite sort of way.
“I just thought ‘he does not respect you’.”
After two failed world title attempts in the early stages of his career, Bellew’s career seemed to be winding down somewhat by the time he was cast in the Rocky spin-off ‘Creed’in 2015.
However, a move up to the 200lb cruiserweight division and a succession of stunning knockouts propelled him from journeyman to one of Britsh boxing’s biggest pay-per-view draws.
Back-to-back wins over David Haye cemented his reputation as a power puncher, with Haye himself telling talkSPORT no-one has hit him the way Bellew does.
Despite this, Nelson believes the undisputed cruiserweight champion does not respect Bellew.
“Usyk will look at Tony Bellew and think ‘you are a light-heavyweight’,” Nelson continued.
“He doesn’t respect Tony Bellew, I’m telling you! You can tell how he has come over here, this thing is no big deal.
“Usyk is a very special individual but if there is ever a time for Tony Bellew to beat Oleksandr Usyk it’s now!
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“Get him before he realises how good he actually is, and he’s cocksure of himself as it is now. But this is now.
“Now Usyk has got to be smart, I don’t think he will worry about what Tony has got until Tony hits him flush once.
“Then he will realise this kid can hit a lot harder than what I thought. I just don’t think he respects what he has got in front of him.”