Tony Bellew was stopped in the eighth round as he failed in his bid to dethrone undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk. In only the sixth bout in men’s boxing history where all four world titles were on the line, Bellew made a strong start, his movement and counter-punching proving an issue for the undefeated Ukranian.
However, as the contest wore on, the 2012 Olympic gold medallist took control, landing shots consistently before a brutal left hook sent ‘The Bomber’ to the canvas in the eighth round.
Referee Terry O’Connor was quick to wave off the contest, much to the disappointment of the majority of those inside the Manchester Arena. The 35-year-old former WBO cruiserweight champion had been ahead on two of three judges’ scorecards when he was stopped but could have no complaints, branding Usyk the best fighter he has come up against.
“He is just so hard and so awkward. He is big and he overpowers you. I tried my best and he is probably the best cruiserweight that ever lived,” Bellew told BBC Radio 5 live. “It is heartbreaking because I gave it everything I had. Heavyweights stay away, he takes a great shot and I don’t even know if I hurt him.”
Bellew confirmed Saturday’s bout would be his last, finishing with a record of 30-3-1. Usyk, meanwhile, is expected to make the step up to the heavyweight division having overcome all challengers at the cruiserweight class.