The Ukrainian cruiserweight king now wants to rule the heavyweight division
Oleksandr Usyk saw off the challenge of Tony Bellew in brutal fashion – and is now targeting Britain’s heavyweight king Anthony Joshua.
The outstanding Ukrainian stretched his unbeaten professional record to 16 wins from 16 fights by knocking out Bellew in the eighth round of their cruiserweight world title clash at Manchester Arena on Saturday night.
Usyk holds the WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF and Ring magazine titles at 200lbs, but is now preparing to move up and challenge the very best in the heavyweight division.
Speaking ringside after the stunning win over Bellew, his promoter Alexander Krassyuk said: “He definitely needs to fight Anthony Joshua.
“With this man standing next to me [Eddie Hearn] we can do much in heavyweight boxing.”
Usyk, however, is planning a period of rest before setting a date for his next fight.
He said: “You know what, I had the most difficult year with my life. Now I want to rest and spend time with my family.”
Bellew was attempting to become the first Briton to hold all four major world titles – plus the prestigious Ring Magazine belt – in a weight class simultaneously in his final professional bout.
He made a courageous start but was denied the fairytale finish to his career as his opponent demonstrated just why he is rated among one of the finest fighters on the planet.
Usyk gradually started to establish his dominance and closed the show emphatically, flooring his rival with a devastating one-two, prompting referee Terry O’Connor to wave off the count after two minutes of the eighth round.
Bellew was gracious in defeat.
He said: “I tried my best and gave it everything. Usyk is a great, great champion. He beat me fair and square, I have no excuses.
“Oleksandr is the greatest man I have ever shared a ring with.
“Only the very best and very greatest will find a way to beat him.”
He said: “I have been doing this for 20 years and it is over.”