Oleksandr Usyk (16-0, 12KOs) shattered the Tony Bellew (30-3-1, 20KOs) fairytale with a thunderous left hand in the eighth round in Manchester to retain his Undisputed crown and cement his place as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the World today.
It was always going to be a mammoth task for the Merseysider who acquitted himself well in the early exchanges.
Before the stoppage two of the three judges at ringside had ‘The Bomber’ up on the scorecards with the other having it even but in the end it was Usyk’s class that prevailed.
It was a cagey first round that was difficult to score as neither fighter really landed anything of notice.
In a much better second it was Bellew who found his range quicker, tagging the Ukrainian to the head and body with pot shots. Usyk did up his game after Bellew antagonised him with a minute left in the round.
With the fight starting to hot up the champ forced Bellew back from a distance for much of the third round although, it was the home fighter that kept catching Usyk with right handed pot shots.
Early in the fourth it was the Ukrainian maestro who was beginning to find his range and caught Bellew with a big left hand that made him dip his knees. Bellew spent most of the round with his back agaisnt the ropes but did connect with his trademark left hook that forced Usyk to retreat.
Once again it was the slick southpaw from Kiev who was on the front foot for most of the fifth but was getting countered by Bellew a little to often. Midway through the round a fast left handed warning shot from the Cruiserweight King landed on Bellews chin. The challenger did end the round strongly with a few right hands while continuing to counter the Usyk jab.
The sixth was going pretty much the same way as the fifth until Usyk landed a big left hand right on the bell that wobbled Bellew.
Usyk sensed blood in the seventh as Bellew was clearly still a bit dazed from the last round and starting to feel the pace of the fight. The 31-year-old was slowly creeping through the gears and getting better while Bellew was heading the other way.
In the eighth and final round Usyk showed his class with some beautiful footwork and shots from different angles. Bellew was trying to load up with big shots to find some space but he could not stop the Ukrainian from coming forward.
Every jab and left cross was hitting the target with Bellew in all sorts of trouble. An initial left hand buzzed Bellew before a right hand jab set-up a looping left cross which put the Liverpudlian out for the count.
Unfortunately for Bellew he was unable to prove the doubters wrong again but Oleksandr Usyk is a special talent that ended the night with a wonderful finish.
There is absolutely no shame in defeat to Usyk but Bellew needed to throw more then pot shots if he was ever going to put a real dent in Usyk’s arsenal.
Tony Bellew deserves a lot of credit for not only taking the fight against a World class operator but also for causing Usyk problems in the earlier rounds. If this really is his last fight and he does retire then he can look back on a successful career were he achieved more than he ever thought possible.
Good Luck Bellew and enjoy your Birthday cake milkshake with your son in retirement!