IT takes a brave man to not be intimidated by Oleksandr Usyk. The chilling stare. The unnerving, quiet confidence. Not to mention the long list of accolades – European, World and Olympic gold medals in the amateurs, plus the World Boxing Super Series trophy and all four major world titles (WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO) as a cruiserweight in the pros.
But Tony Bellew was not intimidated. Respectful and well aware of Usyk’s brilliance, but not intimidated. After entering the Manchester Arena ring to an eruption of noise, his signature entrance music – Theme from Z-Cars – bellowing around the building one last time, the proud and pumped-up Liverpudlian awaited the arrival of the final opponent of his decorated 11-year career.
As Usyk began his approach down the aisle, Bellew eyed him with an almost feral intensity, thumping the top rope with both fists and howling at the top of his voice, “You’re mine!” His freshly shaved head only added to the ferocity of his demeanour.