FOLLOWING his eighth-round stoppage loss to undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk at Manchester Arena, Tony Bellew has now officially hung up his gloves.

Despite losing his final fight, the Liverpudlian can hold his head high after putting in an impressive performance up until the conclusive ending. In fact, the former WBC cruiser king was ahead on two of the three judges’ scorecards at the time of the finish, with the third judge having things level.

Reflecting on both the Usyk fight and his career as a whole, an emotional Bellew opened up in the post-fight press conference, at one point even being brought to tears when stating how much he owes his parents for their love and support over the years.

After Dave Coldwell described his time coaching Bellew as “the best five years of [his] life”, a grateful Bellew embraced his trainer, before saying the following…

“It feels like I’ve failed. But this is boxing at the highest level, so you can’t always win. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I just wanted to prove people wrong, which I wasn’t able to do tonight.

Tony Bellew

“I lost to the best fighter I’ve ever faced in my life. He was awkward. He was intelligent. His little adjustments with his feet eventually got to me. I got tired for the first time in my whole career. No excuses.

“I sit here as a loser tonight, and I’m heartbroken, but I’ve won in life. I’ve done the impossible before. Tonight, I tried to do the unimaginable, but it wasn’t to be.

“I’m not sorry I took him on. When he called my name out [after winning the World Boxing Super Series], I had to take him on. In my mind, I had no choice. Tonight, I wasn’t good enough, but I can live with that. I can accept that.

“I lost to potentially the greatest cruiserweight who’s ever lived. I could never really cop him with the right hand. His feet dictate fights. He’s exceptional. The giants [at heavyweight] may be too much for him [due to their size]. But there isn’t anyone around 6ft 3ins who’s going to beat him.

“My plans now? I want to disappear [from the spotlight]. I want to be normal again.”