Judges had Bellew ahead of Usyk at time of stoppage
By Dan Ambrose: IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO cruiserweight champion Oleksander Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) was well on his way to getting beaten Saturday night on the judges’ scorecards at the time that he turned it up a notch in knocking out former World Boxing Council champion Tony Bellew (30-3-1, 20 KOs) on Saturday night at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.
Two of the judges had the home fighter Bellew, 35, ahead by the scores 67-66 and 68-65 at the time that Usyk scored an 8th round knockout. The third judge had it a draw at 67-67.
Here’s how the three judges scored it:
67-67 – Yury Koptsev (Ukraine) – Draw
67-66 – Steve Gray (Great Britain) – Bellew
68-65 – Alejandro Lopez (Mexico) – Bellew
It’s a good thing for Usyk’s sake that he was able to get the victory, as he had a mountain to climb with the judge Alejandro Lopez with the way that he had Bellew well ahead in the fight going into the 8th. Although Usyk, 31, was fighting a lot better from the 6th round on, there’s no way of knowing how Lopez and Steve Gray would have scored the last five rounds.
You’ve got to give Bellew massive credit for giving Usyk the most problems that he’d ever had as a pro. Obviously, Mairis Briedis did a better job against Usyk overall compared to Bellew in losing to him by a 12 round majority decision earlier this year in January in the World Boxing Super Series tournament. It’s a good win for Usyk, but the victory doesn’t show that he’s the best in boxing yet. Bellew looked old after the 6th round, and he wasn’t doing much.
Usyk was’t going to let himself get robbed by the judges, so he took matters into his own hands in landing a powerful left hand in the 8th round that knocked Bellew down. Bellew fell on his back against the ropes. The fight was stopped by the referee Terry O’Connor. If Bellew had gotten to his feet, Usyk would have finished him off. He had Bellew where he wanted him.
It’s safe to say that Usyk knew what he was up against as the visiting fighter facing the home guy. He knew he needed to do something special for him to get the victory, and he made sure that he got the KO.
The counter-punching Bellew looked strong in the first five rounds. He was landing counter shots each time that Usyk would try and hit him with something. Usyk looked afraid to throw his jab for fear of getting countered by Bellew. The only negative that you could say about Bellew’s effort in the first four rounds was the fact that he was waiting to throw single counter shots. Bellew wasn’t going on the attack against Usyk. Fighting like that meant that Bellew was going to be dependent on Usyk throwing a lot of shots for to him his opportunities to throw counters. Usyk wasn’t throwing a lot of shots, which meant that the first four rounds were close.