This past weekend I had the pleasure of watching – Tony “Bomber” Bellew – fight in his final contest against a true pound-for-pound kingpin, Oleksandr Usyk.
This experience was one that I had never even considered, as not too long ago I was not a massive Tony Bellew fan…
However, as time’s gone on and as we began to see glimpses of the real Tony Bellew, or as he refers to his actual self (without the boxing persona) – Anthony Bellew – my admiration for the fighter and the man began to grow considerably!
Heading up to Manchester
After a 4 hour journey, with a couple of pit-stops to grab some lunch and a quick coffee, we arrived at our hotel directly opposite the Manchester Arena.
I’d headed up to watch Bellew’s final fight with my friends from the podcast that I’m a part of: British Boxing Talk and we were all keenly anticipating Bellew’s “last hurrah”, as well as a ‘Christmas trip’ to Manchester!
The extra bonus for travelling all the way up to Manchester, was that we would get the opportunity to see the hugely talented and skilful, Oleksandr Usyk, take to centre stage with our own eyes.
A solid undercard prepared us nicely for the main-event, as we watched the ever; entertaining: Dave Allen, in what turned out to be a surprisingly tough fight.
We also witnessed a very calm and composed Ricky Burns, show flashes of brilliance once again, as he landed a perfect right hand on Scotty Cardle, which sent him to the canvas the minute Burns’ knuckles reached his chin.
Next up, was “Million Dollar” Crolla, who got the win after another strong performance over 12 x 3 minute rounds, securing himself a shot at the WBA Lightweight title.
The WBA title is currently held by another, ridiculously good Ukranian fighter, who goes by the name of Vasyl Lomachenko.
Lomachenko, for those of you who don’t know, is a former Olympic Gold Medallist, on more than one occasion.
The chance that Crolla can find the answer to the unanswerable question, that is Vasyl Lomachenko, is very unlikely…
However, if that fight does come to fruition, then it’ll likely take place in the UK and will give British fight fans an opportunity to witness “The Matrix” in action on British soil, like we did with Oleksandr Usyk this weekend!
More Than Just the “Bomber”
After watching Bellew come along leaps and bounds as a fighter since moving up from the light-heavyweight division (in which he looked skeletal), I had a real sense of anticipation to see him against one of the World’s best fighters in his final fight.
Despite being known as a “fat; loud-mouthed scouser”, I could see over the past few years, that there was a lot more to him than that…
This was something that I could see in particular, when he spoke about other fighters as well as his trainer – Dave Coldwell.
Since working with Dave Coldwell, I think most boxing fans will agree that Bellew has come along massively and seems to have gotten better and better with every challenge he’s faced inside the ring.
Many people foolishly disregard his two wins over rival, David Haye, but Bellew proved in those 2 fights that he had the skills to match and overcome a fighter who was at one point, one of the elite, within the Cruiserweight division.
(Also, for a time an elite fighter and World Champion at Heavyweight!)
In fact, in the first 6 rounds of this weekends fight against Usyk, Tony Bellew showed the World that he could operate at the very highest level, as he was at times out-boxing the Undisputed Cruiserweight Champion of the World…
Oleksandr Usyk Vs. Tony Bellew
For anyone that hasn’t seen the fight, then go and watch it now. Or at least check out the highlights!
From where I was sat in the Manchester Arena, the fight looked very close and Bellew looked as if he’d won the majority of the rounds, up until the 8th.
It was obvious to see, as the fight progressed, that Bellew was getting tired and that Usyk’s gameplan was starting to come into it’s own.
Although, with every back hand or left hook that Bellew threw, there was a hope within everyone there that night, that Bellew could shock the World and get the Ukranian out of there, inside the distance.
The fairytale ending, however, was not to be.
Despite that though, the “Bomber”s legacy perhaps sits even more soundly now, as he bowed out of the fight game with a stoppage defeat to Oleksandr Usyk, as he dared to be great.
Bellew didn’t look out of place in there with such a formidable opponent and neither did he look out-classed, but Usyk is a special talent and his superior skills paid off in the end, as he put Bellew down with a trio of heavy punches and got himself another big win.
What the Future Holds…
Right now, I believe that Tony Bellew will retire for good. There’s no need for him to enter the ring again and there’s no real sense in it either.
Although one of the hardest things for a fighter to do is to hang up the gloves, Bellew has earned his retirement and has also earned the opportunity to rest, be with his family and enjoy the comforts in life that for 20+ years he’s had to sacrifice for his dreams.
Usyk on the other hand, will no-doubt, now move on and up into the heavyweight division, where his goal will be to emulate the success he’s had as a cruiserweight.
Whether he can do that, well… Only time will answer that one for us!
Oleksandr Usyk, however, certainly shakes up the heavyweight division and gives a lot of the top ranked fighters a hard time.
Give it another year or so and don’t be surprised if you see Anthony Joshua Vs. Oleksandr Usyk at Wembley Stadium!
Farewell Tony “Bomber” Bellew
Despite there being a slim chance that Tony Bellew ever reads this, I would like to say a big thank you to him for all the entertainment that he’s provided fight fans with over the years.
Although at first I wasn’t a massive fan, I’ve become one over the last 5 years and would definitely rank Bellew as one of my favourite British fighters.
I say this because of his heart, grit, self-belief and sheer determination to get in there, give it all he had and prove the doubters wrong.
Many thanks, Tony Bellew, enjoy your retirement, the money you’ve made from a brilliant career and make the most of the all important time with your family and friends!