Tony Bellew announces retirement, says Oleksandr Usyk could be the “greatest cruiserweight ever”

Anthony Cocks

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Former WBC cruiserweight champion Tony ‘Bomber’ Bellew 30-3-1 (20) has announced his retirement after a valiant last stand against undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk 16-0 (12) at Manchester Arena on Saturday night.

The 35-year-old Liverpudlian went down in eight rounds against the brilliant Usyk, but not before troubling the talented Ukrainian southpaw for the first six rounds of the contest.

Bellew admitted the rigours of training camp had taken a toll on his body over the years.

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“I can’t take it no more. My body can’t take it,” said Bellew after the fight.

“That’s the third time now something has happened in training camp. But that played no part in the result. I lost to the better man. It is not an excuse.”

Bellew got off to a flier, outboxing the boxer in the early rounds when he was expected to look for the early knockout against the 2012 Olympic heavyweight gold medallist.

By the fourth round Usyk had gained control of the bout, utilising his quick hands, high workrate and awkward angles to land some big shots.

The world’s cruiserweight champion showed his finishing instinct when he jumped on a hurt and exhausted Bellew in the eighth and final round, levelling him with a looping left hand to retain his titles

Usyk, in inaugural winner of the Muhammad Ali trophy in the first season of the World Boxing Super Series, is now planning a move to heavyweight where big money fights against the likes of unified champion Anthony Joshua and leading contenders Dillian Whyte and Jarrell Miller await.

But Bellew, who came into the fight off back-to-back wins over David Haye at heavyweight, has warned against the move.

“He could be the greatest cruiserweight ever,” said Bellew. “I only hope he doesn’t go to the giants, they are the only people who could beat him because they might be too much.

“But anyone around 6-foot-3 he will ping them and make people look fools.”

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