Former WBC Champion Tony Bellew has reflected on his final performance in the ring against Oleksandr Usyk last month.
The Merseysider made a confident start, opening with a lead on two of the judges' scorecards against cruiserweight king Usyk, only to suffer a dramatic stoppage loss in the eighth round at a sold-out Manchester Arena.
Bellew set-up the super-fight after back-to-back KO victories over former heavyweight champion David Haye and. The ‘Bomber’ ends his illustrious career with 30 victories to his name, 20 of those coming via knock out.
The former champ has stated that his finest achievement in the sport was beating Ilunga Makubu at his beloved Goodson Park in 2016 to win the WBC cruiserweight title.
Bellew, who made his professional debut in 2007, also held the British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight titles and European cruiserweight title in his career.
The 36-year-old has earned over £9 million from his last three bouts and in doing so has secured his family’s financial future.
In an exclusive interview with World Boxing News, the Liverpudlian slugger revealed his tactics in the ring when going against one of the best pound-for-pound stars in the world.
“For the first time in my career I got tired in a fight,” said Bellew.
“It was the first time I could actually say I was exhausted. I don’t remember much of the eighth round, I remember getting back up, just about.
“I’m gutted obviously by the end result but the fight was going very much to plan. I felt like I was winning going into the eighth round and we were getting closer. Everything went to plan and it was everything I expected.
“I knew he was a good boxer but I knew I could outbox him. The plan was to get him to start chasing the fight in the second half and get him to walk onto a big punch.
“The fact of the matter is he just didn’t in the end. The only big punch I threw was the one I threw when I was too tired in the eighth round.
“Fair play to Oleksandr Usyk, he outclassed me and I just couldn’t keep up. Why I tired I don’t know as I was in amazing shape and I felt fantastic. I wasn’t shocked to see I was outboxing this man and getting the better of him.
“I knew there was a shot I could do it. I’ve always known how good he was, but I also know how good I can be on my day.”
Despite the loss, Bellew has confessed his amazement at what a “chubby lad from Toxteth” achieved in his career and will bow out knowing that he left everything in the ring.
The ‘Bomber’ concluded by saying: "It was a very hard defeat for me to take but I’ve come to terms with it now and he won."