Ukraine's Usyk knocks Bellew down and defends title of absolute world champion


Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk, the world cruiserweight champion, successfully defended his four titles by knocking out Britain's Tony Bellew in the eighth round. "[Usyk] would bring new spirit to the heavyweight division".

British referee Terry O'Connor stepped in and stopped the fight, with 31-year-old Usyk stretching his professional record to 16-0-0. Stylistically this could play into Usyk's hands as Whyte is only one inch taller and Bellew, one of the more erudite analysts, believes only the "giants" on the heavyweight scene have the potential to topple the highly-skilled southpaw.

Former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis said he had nothing but respect for Bellew and congratulated Usyk on a spectacular win. It is him or (Evander) Holyfield - I would love to see that fight.

And when one projects him at heavyweight, he figures to be better. When I was expelled from school I had nothing and nowhere to go.

"He definitely needs to fight Anthony Joshua", Usyk's promoter Alexander Krassyuk said. He is only 25 and required surgery after the Usyk fight, which he probably should have had done prior to meeting such a highly regarded opponent.

Bellew has the punching power to knock Usyk out. If he's healthy and fighting at 230 or 235 instead of 200, he's going to be unsafe.

It means the Ukrainian retains the WBC, IBF, WBA and WBO belts to remain undisputed champion. I took this fight - it is the biggest challenge of my life. Joshua is still improving, and time is on his side. Usyk has never boxed at heavyweight professionally but insisted he wouldn't have a problem putting on the pounds. I gave it everything I've got, ' Bellew told Sky Sports minutes after Saturday's night's fight. We don't know how good Wilder and Joshua really are at this point, but we should have a better idea over the next six months.

And "Haymaker" was among many to offer their glowing tributes to Bellew, who ended his career having won the Commonwealth, the WBO lightheavyweight and WBC, WBO and European cruiserweight titles.