By Marcus Foulkes: Class, and I mean true class will be the theme and the main focus of this article. As I sat writing reflecting on the fight the following afternoon, only hours after what I’d witnessed that night, I remember feeling a sense of upset but also a sense of sheer pride.
After fights like the fight Oleksandr Usyk and Tony Bellew gave us that night, and the subsequent ending and show of respect shown by both warriors afterwards, I feel to call boxing the sport I love.
These two men proved to me, beyond all doubt, that boxing is the greatest sport in the world.
The outcome was brutal yet beautiful, and if I’m being completely honest, after three rounds, I didn’t see it coming, the brutal knockout, I mean.
My prediction leading up to the fight was Usyk wins a wide decision, but to my astonishment, in the eyes of this fan, Bellew was three up going into the fourth round!
The first was cagey, possibly an even round. I gave it to Bellew based on him being slightly more active with the more meaningful shots.
When the bell sounded at the end of the round, I thought that’s it.
Usyk has touched him, has the timing, has judged Bellew’s distance. In round two, he’s going to start to set up the combos.
However, Tony had other ideas.
Both men throw and land numerous spiking jabs, but it’s the Liverpudlian following up and landing hard body/head combinations, roughing up his Ukrainian counterpart.
The bell rang at the end of round two, and I’m starting to wonder what is going on!
That’s definitely it now, surely. Usyk has taken some good shots and hasn’t been fazed in the slightest. He’s had another round to feel out the ‘fat’ man. He’s going to come out purposefully in round three and start to put his hands on Tony.
Usyk did indeed show urgency, but he’s forcing his work; he isn’t flowing as poetically as he usually does, dare I say it…he’s flustered!
The Bomber again was outboxing, outsmarting, and outfighting his supremely talented P4P opponent – Tony Bellew is out-boxing Oleksandr Usyk…. this isn’t supposed to happen!
It’s only at the end of round four when I finally realized after all the adrenaline caused by the previous three rounds had subsided, I realized Bellew had no chance.
It had all been an illusion.
In the middle of round four, Usyk landed a perfectly timed left hook that shook Tony to the core.
Bellew was winning the battle up to that point, but he was always ultimately going to lose the war.
He hit Usyk with some heavy, clean power shots to the head and torso, but to absolutely no effect.
The Ukrainian landed his first meaningful power shot and nearly ended the fight.
This was so awe-inspiringly amazing due to the fact that Bellew hits like a mule.
Usyk is one tough human being, plain and simple. From here on in, it was a masterclass from Usyk.
Tony had now tired, and that beast of a hook that landed had sapped the energy from the Englishman’s core.
Usyk proceeded to show us all why we hold him in such high regard.
The finish was sublime, but it was hard to watch a fighter I’d, after a rocky start, become so fond of dropped so viciously.
It was the next two moments that showed me why I love the sport of boxing so dearly.
As Tony’s lifeless body fell perilously to the canvas, his friend Eddie Hearn rushed forward to try and stop his head bouncing violently off the side of the ring apron, possibly causing lasting damage.
You could see it in the eyes of Hearn. It wasn’t the actions of a money-hungry promoter. Those were the actions of a concerned friend.
Then, as a dazed Bellew came round, still not fully recovered but aware that he’d lost – Usyk showed absolute gentlemanly class in the hug, kiss, and bow he immediately afforded his distraught opponent.
Most fighters would have immediately run to celebrate, and nobody could blame them, but Usyk isn’t ‘most fighters.’
This fighter we call Oleksandr Usyk, ladies and gentlemen, is something else entirely.