Oleksandr Usyk's first test as boxing's undisputed cruiserweight champion ended in success.
In the main event of a boxing card in Manchester, Usyk delivered a devastating left hook to knock out Tony Bellew in the eighth round. Usyk retained his undisputed WBA, WBO, WBC and IBF cruiserweight titles on a fight streamed in the United States on DAZN.
Usyk didn't have a lot of success landing serious punches in the early going, giving way for Bellew to work on the inside. At one point in the second round, Bellew connected with a stiff right hand that pushed Usyk back and had Bellew get fired up and verbally taunt the champion. Bellew ended the round with another right hand and the Manchester Arena was on its feet when the round ended.
As the fight would go on, Usyk would start finding his range and was able to better land his jab. Usyk's best round in the first few frames was the fourth when he managed to break through Bellew's defenses and started connecting with the left hook and the jab. In the eighth round, Usyk started with a barrage of punches that trapped Bellew in the corner. Midway through the around, Usyk effortlessly and repeatedly landed the left hook and eventually knocked out Bellew to retain the titles.
At the time of the stoppage, Bellew was actually up on two of the three official scorecards. While judge Yury Koptsev had the fight even at 67-67, judges Steve Gray and Alejandro Lopez had Bellew winning with scores of 67-66 and 68-65, respectively.
The win would put a bow on Usyk's 2018, which ended being about as successful as one could ever expect. Usyk defeated Mairis Briedis to unify the WBC and WBO titles back in February and then beat Murat Gassiev to win the World Boxing Super Series and become the undisputed champion. Now that he has retained his titles, Usyk will now work towards an eventual showdown with unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.
As for what's next for Bellew, the former world champion was asked if he will hang his gloves in the ring and answered that this is the end for him. If it is indeed the end for Bellew, it would be the end of a career that saw the British fighter reached the top of the mountain and become a world champion back in 2016.