Saturday , February 27 2021

Tony Bellew left the ring for a quiet life as usual Anthony Kevin Mitchell | Sports

Tony Bellew, beaten but not subdued by one of the best fighters in the world, Oleksandr Usyk, determined to seek peace and quiet in retirement, dividends from his endeavors, as "plain Anthony, my real name".

Whether that appears on every Hollywood billboard the 35-year-old former world champion is likely to be blessed in the years to come will depend on people working in theaters together in Creed two years ago. Whatever they wanted to call him, Bellew brought authenticity to everything he said and did.

It has been a Liverpudlian calling card since its first professional fight, 11 years ago on 24. Relatively late to move from amateurs (where he thought the ABA title would be the culmination of his achievements), he continued to create, slowly at first and then with no energy unstoppable, "madness" that is very entertaining, he called it.

And he overcame the fact that the last of his 34 battles, in front of 20,000 fans at the Manchester Arena which rose on Saturday, produced an unparalleled left landing on the left hook in the eighth round which released him from his senses. It will always be Bellew's last fight, but, contrary to expectations, after seven rounds, he leads on points against one of the best sports technicians, with three points on one card, one on the other card and the level on the third card. Strangely, it was his best achievement, even exceeding his victory over David Haye.

Usyk, the undisputed first explorer class champion since Evander Holyfield 30 years ago, is now gliding smoothly into a vacuum in the list of match rooms left by Bellew's departure, and will step into the heavyweight in 2019, when he might have two fights – maybe against Dillian Whyte in England and Alexander Povetkin Russia in Kiev – before being prepared to challenge the world title against Anthony Joshua at the end of the year or in 2020, if the champions are still unbeaten.

"I think we will have a good time here," said the fighter, smiling at Eddie Hearn. The promoter smiled back.

Usyk, a smart and personal man who is rarely far from his Bible, said: "Every day I pray and ask God to give me humility. No matter what I do in life and what I achieve, I just want to consider myself a normal man. "In boxing terms, he is nothing. He has strength, arena ringing and perhaps the best footwork of a great man since Muhammad Ali. A quality tennis player, Usyk moves in the ring like his wife, Kateyrina, once played on the dance floor.

He said about Bellew's eager challenge: "He is a real man – a true fighter. I tried to control myself in the first four rounds – trying to be boxed rather than just fighting. "Working patiently into the contest, he felt fatigue in his prey and, after blocking all roads to escape, he landed a left-handed puncture in the south, followed by the final left cross-hook. Bellew never saw it.

Their embrace at the end is an extension of their mutual respect. As Bellew said later: "I am a big fan. I was before and still. I look forward to seeing him fight again here, even though I don't know if he is ready for Joshua first. But, for anyone around his own weight, he is second to none, a nightmare. His leg work cannot be trusted. I have no place to go. "

Bellew left the sport with many things to think about, refusing to brush up on reality. He regretted he had to often play criminals as part of boxing hype, but welcomed back to relative sanity. He reviled former management and paid great praise for Hearn and his coach, Dave Coldwell. And, as a graduate of the hard streets in southern Liverpool, he was happy to receive the wealth boxing that had taken him in the following years, despite adding: "Never about money."

It is inconceivable that the most eloquent figure in the battle game will not return behind the Sky microphone before long but, for now, he just wants to be Anthony again, "leading a normal life".

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