Before stepping up to heavyweight and beating Anthony Joshua in just his third fight in the division, Oleksandr Usyk was an equally devastating cruiserweight, with the Ukrainian unifying the division without suffering a single defeat.
Bellew then returned to cruiserweight with the intention of ending Usyk’s dominance, and victory would have ensured he’d become the first Briton to hold four world titles in a single division.
As usual, Bellew declared a war of words with his opponent in the build up to the fight, with the witty Scouser looking to frustrate Usyk.
However, the natural language barrier between the pair made that even more difficult for Bellew, with Usyk requiring a translator during the fight’s press conferences.
As a result, many of his responses were short and snappy, and he required just two words to silence Bellew’s rant about his superior punching power.
“Let’s not forget – I have the one thing he doesn’t have, and that’s a punch that can switch lights off within a blink of an eye,” said Bellew.
“Just one wrong step, one wrong manoeuvre and it’s over.”
When prompted for a response, Usyk caused a wave of laughs throughout the audience when he simply returned with: “He’s kidding.”
Usyk also showed on fight night just how unaffected he was by Bellew’s intimidation tactics as he handed the Briton a crushing defeat in what turned out to be his last ever fight.
Despite starting the fight well and conceivably winning the fight on the judges’ scorecards, it all started to go south for Bellew when he started to get fatigued. Once tiredness sunk in, the fight was only going one way.
Then, a number of vicious left hands in the eighth round was the beginning of the end as Usyk piled on the pressure before sending Bellew to the canvas to record a knockout win.
It truly was a knockout blow, something which, going by his pre-fight comments, Bellew would not have expected.
Of course, we know a lot of the stuff boxers say before a fight are just mind games and they probably don’t even believe half the stuff they say themselves, but Bellew found out the hard way and the painful way that Oleksandr Usyk does in fact have knockout power.
Will Anthony Joshua feel the same force on Saturday? We shall see.