By: Michael Kane
Tony Bellew dared to be great but came up short in his quest to become the undisputed cruiserweight world champion.
Bellew faced champion Oleksandr Usyk with all the belts on the line, the WBO, WBA, WBC, IBF and Ring belts. Bellew was looking to become the first Brit since Lennox Lewis to be undisputed champion of the world.
Bellew was the underdog going into the bout against Usyk however the ‘Bomber’ started well, winning the first 3 rounds. Usyk (16-0, 12KOs) had never been knocked down and his chin looked strong as Bellew was trying to land the power shots. Usyk was the more technical fighter having had over 300 amateur fights but landed a few shots of his own that troubled Bellew.
In the 6th, Bellew was looking comfortable until Usyk landed a left hand which wobbled Bellew. This was the turning point in the fight as Usyk now knew he could hurt Bellew. In the 7th Bellew was ducking and weaving looking to counter.
As the fight moved into the 8th, the fight was on a knife edge, I had it probably level at this point, however Bellew was slowing down and visibly looked tired. Usyk on the other hand still looked fresh, looking to jab and wear Bellew down.
Usyk them landed a great left hook that put Bellew to the canvas, Bellew went down heavily. The referee Terry O’Connor called the fight to a halt.
Bellew was ahead on two of the judges scorecard at the time of the stoppage.
It had been compelling viewing while it lasted with Usyk showing he was probably just a level above Bellew as the fight progressed.
Bellew (30-3-1) has said this was his last fight while Usyk is expected to move up to heavyweight with a fight against Anthony Joshua on his agenda.
“You are the greatest fighter I have ever shared a ring with, you are a great champion, you beat me fair and square.” Bellew said after the fight.
In a Radio 5 Live interview Bellew said, “I gave it everything I had, he is an exceptional champion. He is everything I have feared. He is the best I have ever fought.
“I had a great plan, I tried my best, but it wasn’t good enough. He is just so hard and awkward, putting pressure, tap, tap, tap, then he stings. He overpowers you and is bigger than you think.
“He is probably the best cruiserweight who ever lived. It is him or Holyfield, I would have loved to see that fight.
“Heavyweights stay away, he takes a great shot and I don’t even know if I hurt him. He is even better than it says on the box.
“It is my final walk away, I have been doing this for 20 years, and now it is over.”
Usyk said to Sky Sports Box Office, ” I knew he would do it like that because he had nothing to lose.
“The good champions are like that with the good opposition, only this way.”
Usyk when asked about his future said, “I had the most difficult year with my life. Now I want to rest and spend time with my family.”