Usyk/Bellew—Retirement Plan

By Ben Thomsett on November 11, 2018
Usyk/Bellew—Retirement Plan
Bellew gave Usyk something enjoyable to do for half an hour on a Saturday night. (DAZN)

Usyk is a magnificent boxer. Super intelligent in the ring, great spirit, brilliant movement. He’s a credit to boxing…

Once upon a time, Tony Bellew had a plan. He’d hinted widely about it. He looked as though he even believed it. Tony was going to “Take Usyk’s soul.” The way he said those words over and over in the various media pressers and interviews seemed like it had been drummed into him by a third party with little or no psychological qualifications. Lots of hyperbole and cliché, but no actual decent reasoning behind the belief, other than the words were a half-macho soundbite that the boxing media could whip into a headline to sell more cat litter.

Oleksandr (although DAZN USA spelled it ‘Alexander’ on social media for most of fight day…. After paying Eddie Hearn, have DAZN only got enough cash left to hire raccoons in their IT dept?) didn’t buy the lazy phrase. His soul was intact as far as he was concerned, and it was going nowhere, although I bet he wondered what Tony would really do when the first bell rang. I mean, Bellew is not usually known for shit-fest fights and spoilers. He’s not likely to roll over like, say, Audley Harrison used to. I don’t think I’ll ever get over seeing Harrison turning his back on David Haye all those years ago at the same arena as Bellew stood in last night. There would be none of that behavior from Tony. Ever.

And so it came to pass. Bellew started out unfurling his special plan right from the start of round one. Usyk read it, shrugged his shoulders, and set about showing Tony why he is the undisputed king of the Cruiserweights. The plan in itself wasn’t ridiculous—at least it wouldn’t have been if you weren’t facing Oleksandr Usyk—but it had little to no effect other than giving Usyk something enjoyable to do for half an hour on a Saturday night in Manchester. Bellew’s idea (was it his? I don’t know) was to impose himself like a cobra in the center of the ring; to load up early with the right hand; look for good openings to shot in good, strong jabs; to counter like lightening; to appear to be unhurt and unwavering no matter what was happening in front of him. He had planned to be unmovable and untouchable and, also, to be able to shrug off whatever Usyk delivered to his head or body at any given moment. He was going to out-Usyk, Usyk….

Some would say that Bellew won the first few rounds—personally, I think it was a slow and steady draw for the first four at least—and that includes two of the bizarre judges. In the third, Tony mocked Usyk by pretending to lean on the ropes like the Fonz in Al’s Diner. Usyk didn’t laugh with the crowd. He probably hasn’t seen Happy Days.

As the fight wound towards the last third, Bellew started getting caught more, and catching Usyk less. Usyk, for his part, had worked out all he had to do was keep his movement and his range and counterpunch whenever a tiring Bellew launched into another gung-ho attack. It was this simple scenario that was Bellew’s undoing in the eighth. Usyk set Bellew up with some great left hooks then sent over a good right jab when Bellew had dropped his left hand. Bellew then dropped his right and Usyk smacked home a true ping of a left cross which sent Bellew to the floor and halfway through the ropes. He couldn’t make the count, but got to his feet anyhow, blood from his mouth, a crazed and bewildered look in his eyes. He was brave to even try to make the count. True Bellew.

Usyk rushed over to Bellew once the ref had waved things off. He wanted to make sure Tony was okay. Touching and genuine respect; the whole event from start to finish was all about respect.

Post-fight, both men talked of how they admired the other. Bellew said Usyk was by far the best man he had ever fought. Usyk will go into the Heavyweight division with gusto and confidence. I can’t think of a single fighter in that division who will look forward to an evening with him. He is a magnificent boxer. Super intelligent in the ring, great spirit, brilliant movement. He’s a credit to boxing. Bellew goes away, head held proudly high, into retirement. He is a dying breed: an honest fighter with an honest work ethic and an old school approach to fighting with his fists. He will be missed.

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  1. Kid Blast 12:21pm, 11/12/2018

    Russ Anber also is in both corners

  2. Koolz 04:48pm, 11/11/2018

    ok that’s Crolla who lost to Linares.  thought perhaps it was a close fight and fought Linares again only to lose again.

    Linares who assumed he was ready for Lomachenko but go knocked out when he went up to Lomachenko’s level.

    Lomachenko is on Lomachenko planet no is beating him in his weight class.

    It is Lomachenko’s dad that helps Usyk.  In fact when Usyk has Lomachenko’s dad in his corner he fights even better!

    Both Loma and Usyk train together and that is the reason Usyk won WBSS.

    Why would you Boo Khan??  don’t create negative energy towards someone.

  3. Koolz 04:04pm, 11/11/2018

    Crolla vs Yordan

    People love Crolla.

  4. Koolz 03:26pm, 11/11/2018

    Wach vs Szpilka

    Wach I forgot about this guy ok he still fighting!

  5. Koolz 03:17pm, 11/11/2018

    Kelly vs Castillo

  6. Koolz 03:13pm, 11/11/2018
    Briedis vs Genor

  7. Koolz 03:11pm, 11/11/2018

    No Prob Kid Blast!

    I think Usyk is a fighter that can adapt though.  He can’t be getting hit by Joshua’s Straight right, we all know that.

    But he isn’t exactly going to be fighting Joshua at first either in that division.  We will have to see how he does in his first Heavy Weight Fight before we can determine how well he does against Joshua.

  8. kbryan 02:03pm, 11/11/2018

    Usyk has trouble with boxer punchers. He is good only because he is a left handed athlete. Being left handed in any sport can be an auto advantage.
    Anthony Joshua is a 6’6” Gold medalist, that throws bombs. There is just to much weight and height and skill set disparity.
    Usyk took several rounds pawing with his jab until he found his mark. It was a fun fight to watch, but it showed flaws in Usyk.

  9. Kid Blast 01:37pm, 11/11/2018

    Thanks KOOLZ. Usyk is a great sportsman. Also, a great boxer/puncher. I have now moved him up to Number Two on my P4P list with only Loma over him.

  10. Koolz 12:33pm, 11/11/2018

    Glowacki vs Vlasov

  11. Erect On Demand 12:26pm, 11/11/2018

    More’s the pity that Usyk isn’t 6’6” and 245 lbs! If it were so we’d have another Ukrainian HW Champ for a decade or more!

  12. Koolz 12:26pm, 11/11/2018

    Great Fight!!!

    Usyk vs Bellew.

  13. Lucas McCain 08:36am, 11/11/2018

    Very nice tribute to both of them.  I’m not sure the honest work ethic is dying—there has always been a lot of fakery and cheap flash in boxing—but it’s important to single out good, honest fighters when they come along and to praise them. 

    I think Liston said after slapping Ali (then Clay) at a Las Vegas casino for being fresh, “I got the punk’s heart,” but I don’t imagine he made it up.  A long line of profound-sounding bully talk which has been perfected through the centuries.

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