Tony Bellew’s farewell was equal parts heroic and heart-breaking. He described Usyk as a great champion and was magnanimous in defeat but early flair from ‘the Bomber’ raised the hopes of UK fight fans.
“I wasn’t expecting Tony Bellew to be out-boxing Usyk!” said a shocked David Haye after the third round. Bellew even switched to southpaw at one point, a move which likely had many boxing fans checking their television sets for a malfunction.
Usyk began to get into his stride in the fourth and fifth rounds, pawing with his southpaw jab and beginning to find his range. ‘The Bomber’ was still ahead on 2 of the 3 judge’s scorecards going into the 8th round though. A looping left hand soon put an end to that.
The remarkably heavy fall that followed was a suitably dramatic end to a career that’s had highs and lows aplenty; but the sight of Tony Bellew’s head bouncing off the bottom rope was hard to stomach for some. Eddie Hearn jumped out of his seat on impulse and then attempted to prevent Bellew’s head colliding with the advertising toblerones.
It was a great fight though, and in no way one sided. After Bellew impressed with his confident proficiency in the opening stages it became apparent that the Liverpudlian was expending much more energy than his Ukranian counterpart. “He was winning the battles, but he was losing the wars” said Matthew Macklin, for Sky Sports.
The resulting fatigue magnified the effects of Usyk’s finishing left hand and gave us that tragic finish. A striking finale reminded boxing fans just how fantastic a career Tony Bellew has had. He’s had Rocky moments in the ring and on the silver screen too. He’s also given UK fight fans memories that will last forever.