Tony Bellew expects Deontay Wilder to retain his WBC heavyweight title by beating Tyson Fury in Los Angeles this weekend, but the recently-retired cruiserweight hopes he is proved wrong.
Wilder puts his strap and his 40-0 record on the line at the Staples Center on Saturday against the former unified heavyweight champion.
For Fury it is only his third fight since returning from a doping ban that saw him stripped of all the belts he won after beating Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015.
Stepping up to a title fight is a big ask for Fury given the calibre of opponents he has already faced this year, and Bellew believes that makes Wilder strong favourite to come out victorious.
“When the fight was first made I gave him absolutely no chance,” Bellew told talkSPORT.
“But the more I’ve seen him, I’ve spoke to him and he’s in fantastic shape. He mentally looks like he’s on it.
“I’ve never wanted to be so wrong in all my life, I really hope he does it. I’m praying for him, I’ll be screaming for him, cheering him on.
“I just hope that inactive three-year period out of the ring doesn’t come back to haunt him. And it could do because an inactive fighter isn’t as effective as he usually would be. It’s tough and worrying going into this fight.
“He’s had two fights back-to-back, but the opposition was absolutely woeful and they in no way, shape or form can get you ready for a man like Deontay Wilder.
“But listen, if anyone can, Tyson Fury can.”
And Bellew says the key for Fury is to survive the opening barrage from the Bronze Bomber and wear his opponent down.
He added: “If he gets past three or four rounds, then this fight can be a real tussle.
“He can make his weight advantage count, he can make himself awkward.
“I believe he could exhaust him, but it would be very hard to see him knocking Deontay Wilder out with one punch.
“Deontay Wilder’s got a fantastic chin and is also a very fit fighter.”