Tony Bellew’s boxing career ended in defeat after he was stopped by Oleksandr Usyk in Manchester on Sunday night.
The British boxer made a confident start to proceedings but Usyk’s class eventually told and the Ukrainian landed a brutal left in the eighth round to end the fight.
Victory means that Usyk, the first-ever holder of the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO middleweight belts, has further cemented his status as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet.
Bellew heaped praise on his opponent after the fight, declaring him “the greatest man I have ever shared a ring with”.
“He's an exceptional fighter who deserves all the awards in the world,” the 35-year-old said.
“I lost to one of the pound-for-pound best.”
Bellew can hold his head up high. He played a part in an epic encounter and will be remembered as one of Britain’s most determined boxers.
And not many can say that they caused Usyk as much trouble as Bellew did.
Indeed, he was ahead on Carl Froch’s scorecard entering the eighth round.
The Sky Sports pundit had Bellew ahead by one round, much to the disbelief of boxing fans.
Froch had Bellew leading 50-47 after the fifth round. He gave the sixth and seventh to Usyk but the Evertonian was still ahead on his scorecard.
Boxing fans simply couldn’t understand Froch’s scoring, with many joking that he would still find a way to give the eighth to Bellew.
“He was one round ahead on my card,” Froch told iFL TV after the fight.
“Losing against a quality fighter like Usyk, he’s got nothing to be ashamed of. He boxed the fight of his life against one of the best cruiserweights I’ve ever seen.”
The judges had Bellew winning
Of course, Froch’s scorecard doesn’t matter. But two of the judges had Bellew up, while the other had it level.
Yury Kopstev had it 67-67, Steve Gray had Bellew up 67-66 and Alejandro Lopez scored it 68-65 in Bellew’s favour.
Incredible. Bellew was actually on his way to causing an upset.