Oleksandr Usyk vs Tony Bellew undisputed cruiserweight championship of the World official on-site £150 full ticket billed, "He Who Dares", 10th November 2018, Manchester Arena (formerly M.E.N Arena), Manchester.
Usyk W KO 8
Tony Bellew fell short in his final bout after being knocked out by Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed World cruiserweight title.
Bellew was ahead on the scorecards of two out of three judges, but a devastating left hand from Usyk in the eighth round sent the Liverpudlian into the ropes and before he got up, referee Terry O'Connor called a halt to proceedings.
Usyk, the first-ever holder of the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO cruiserweight belts, completed a sixth victory in a World title fight in the home country of an opponent.
Bellew started more brightly in the opening rounds, but Usyk found a way back into the fight, landing a stiff left hand over his opponent in the fifth, the first time his southpaw stance appeared to play an advantage.
In the closing moments of the sixth round, Bellew was sent staggering but was saved by the bell.
Before too long, Usyk finished the fight with a vicious left hook to Bellew's jaw to continue his unbeaten record and claim his 16th victory - 12th by KO.
Usyk, whose team is keen on a fight with Anthony Joshua, has won three World title fights in 2018 and is next expected to challenge at heavyweight.
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Oleksandr Oleksandrovych Usyk is a Ukrainia. He has reigned as the undisputed cruiserweight champion since July 2018, being the first boxer in history to hold all four major World championships at cruiserweight: the WBO title since 2016, the WBC title since January 2018, and the WBA (Unified) and IBF titles since July 2018. Three of these titles were won during the inaugural World Boxing Super Series, in which Usyk won the Muhammad Ali Trophy. As of July 2018, he also holds the Ring magazine and lineal titles.
Usyk is the most recent male boxer to simultaneously hold the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO titles since Terence Crawford in 2017, and is one of only five boxers in history to do so after Crawford, Jermain Taylor, Bernard Hopkins, and Cecilia Brækhus. Usyk won the undisputed championship in his 15th professional fight, which is an all-time boxing record, and is the first undisputed champion from Ukraine. As an amateur, he won gold medals at the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympics, both in the heavyweight division.
As of July 2018, Usyk is ranked as the World's best active cruiserweight by The Ring magazine, the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB), ESPN, and BoxRec. He is also currently ranked as the World's fourth best active boxer, pound for pound, by The Ring and the TBRB; seventh by BoxRec; and eighth by ESPN.
Usyk was born in Simferopol, Crimean Oblast, Ukrainian SSR. Until age 15, he played association football and was trained at the SC Tavriya Simferopol specialized sports school of Olympic reserve (club's football academy). In 2002 Usyk switched to boxing. He is a graduate of Lviv State University of Physical Culture.
At the 2006 European Championships he won his first three matches against little-known opponents, in the semi-final he lost to Russian Matvey Korobov.
He then moved up to light-heavyweight later and won the Strandja Cup in 2008.
In February 2008, he moved up another weightclass and was sent to the Olympic qualifier in Roseto degli Abruzzi replacing European Champion Denys Poyatsyka. There he defeated World class Azeri Elchin Alizade and Daniel Price.
At the 2008 Olympics, Uysk outpointed Yushan Nijiati by 23–4, but lost to Clemente Russo by 4–7.
He dropped down to light-heavyweight and won gold at the 2008 European Championships, but later moved back up to heavyweight. At the 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships he beat Artur Beterbiev and Teymur Mammadov to win the Heavyweight title and qualify for the Olympics.
At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Usyk won the gold medal, beating Artur Beterbiev, Tervel Pulev and Italy's Clemente Russo, outscoring him by 14–11.
Usyk turned pro in late 2013 at the age of 26 and signed a promotional deal with the Klitschko brothers' K2 Promotions, fighting in the Cruiserweight division.
On 9 November 2013 Usyk made his professional debut by defeating Mexican fighter Felipe Romero via a fifth-round knockout. The following month he stopped 38 year old Epifanio Mendoza in four rounds. In his 3rd professional fight on April 2014, Usyk made his debut in Germany on the undercard of Klitschko-Leapai at the Koenig Pilsener Arena defeating Ben Nsafoah via 3rd-round knockout. A month later, Usyk returned home and knocked out Cesar David Crenz in round 4, having knocked him down in round 3 as well.
Rise Up The Ranks
Usyk won his first title on 4 October 2014 after beating South African boxer Daniel Bruwer via round 7 technical knockout for the Interim WBO Inter-Continental cruiserweight title. Usyk defended the title two months later stopping 35 year old Danie Venter in round 9. Usyk was ahead on all three judges scorecards at the time of stoppage.
Usyk made another defence in April 2015 against former Russian cruiserweight champion Andrey Knyazev (11-1, 6 KOs) in Kiev. After seven one-sided rounds, referee Mickey Vann finally stopped the fight in round 8 after deciding Knyazev had taken enough beating. This win kept Usyk on course to a WBO title fight against then champion Marco Huck.
In August 2015, Usyk defeated former South African light heavyweight champion Johnny Muller via 3rd-round technical knockout at the Sport Palace in Kiev, which saw Usyk control the fight with a jab. Usyk knocked down Muller twice in round 3 and although Muller protested, referee waved the fight off with one second of the round left.
Usyk made a fourth and final defence against unknown Cuban boxer Pedro Rodriguez in a scheduled 12 round fight on 12 December at the Sport Palace. Usyk won the fight scoring his 9th straight knockout in as many fights, first dropping Rodriguez in round 6 with an uppercut before the fight was stopped in round 7, being knocked down again, although he beat the count. This win put Usyk at WBO's number 1 position, with a World title fight on the cards for 2016.
WBO Cruiserweight Champion
Usyk vs Głowacki
In June 2016, it was announced that Usyk would challenge undefeated Polish boxer Krzysztof Głowacki (26-0, 16 KOs) for his WBO cruiserweight champion on 17 September at the Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. It was reported that Usyk's trainer James Ali Bashir wanted to recruit former World champion Antonio Tarver as a sparring partner. It was said that Tarver not only requested too much money, but he also wanted to appear on the card as a co-featured main event. Głowacki weighed 199.3 pounds, which Usyk coming in slightly lighter at 198.75 pounds. The fight was shown live on Sky Sports in the UK. On the night, Usyk outpointed Głowacki after an exciting 12 round fight with the judges scoring it 119-109 117-111 117-111 all in Usyk's favour. The decision win also ended Usyk's run of having won his opening 9 fights via stoppage. Usyk dominated the fight with a jab, eventually injuring Głowacki's eye early in the fight leading it to eventually bleed. The cut continued to bleed for the remainder of the contest. Usyk also used his dominant hand speed and footwork which helped him score the decision win.
Usyk vs Mchunu
Usyk announced he would be making his American debut on the Bernard Hopkins vs Joe Smith Jr. card on 17 December 2016. The fight would take place at the Forum in Inglewood, California. On 11 November K2 Promotions announced Usyk would be defending his WBO title against 28 year old South African boxer Thabiso Mchunu (17-2, 11 KOs). Mchunu previously lost to Ilunga Makabu via 11th round stoppage, although being ahead on the scorecards at the time. Usyk broke down Mchunu eventually stopping him in the 9th round. Prior to the stoppage, Usyk also knocked Mchunu down in the 6th round. In round 9, Usyk knocked Mchunu down twice. The fight was halted by referee Lou Moret after the second knockdown. Although the fight started very slow, the fans in attendance began to boo. The pace was picked up after the first couple of rounds, when Usyk started connecting with his trademark combos. CompuBox statistics showed that Usyk landed 163 of 517 punches thrown (32%), and Mchunu landed 76 of his 278 (27%).
The official time of the stoppage was at 2:53. Prior to the fight, Usyk spoke of his desire to fight other cruiserweight titlists as well as fighting Anthony Joshua at heavyweight. The fight averaged 560,000 viewers on HBO, this was considered good numbers considering it was Usyk's HBO debut and on the undercard.
Usyk vs Hunter
K2 Promotions announced that Usyk would be returning on regular HBO to defend his cruiserweight World title in April 2017. He was originally planned to appear on the undercard of the Golovkin vs Jacobs HBO PPV in March at Madison Square Garden, however since Roman Gonzalez and Carlos Cuadras were scheduled to appear in separate fights and not fight each other, Usyk was pulled from the card.
On 12 February 2017, Usyk announced that he had parted ways with long time trainer James Ali Bashir and replaced him with Vasyl Lomachenko's father and trainer, Anatoly Lomachenko. Bob Arum announced that Usyk would be part of a triple header including Vasyl Lomachenko at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland on 8 April 2017 against Michael Hunter (12-0, 8 KOs). Usyk weighed 199.4 whilst Hunter came in at 199 pounds. In front of a sold out crowd of 2,828, where there was majority Ukrainian fans in attendance, Usyk was taken the distance for the second time in his career and won a rather one-sided unanimous decision to retain his WBO title. Hunter unexpectedly controlled the first three rounds behind the jab. It wasn't until the fourth round, when Usyk took control of the bout using his left and connecting well to the body to win majority of the remainder rounds. Pundits thought Hunter was gifted going the distance and the fight should have been stopped by referee Bill Clancy in the championship rounds. In round 12, it appeared in the last minute, Hunter, whilst taking punches, was only standing because of the ropes where holding him up. Referee halted the fight and gave Hunter a standing 8 count, ruling it a knockdown for Usyk. All three judges scored the fight unanimously 117-110 for Usyk. Although it took him a few rounds to get into the fight, Usyk was happy with his performance and called out other titleholders, "I'm very happy with my performance,. I did what I wanted to do. He took a lot of punches. I thought maybe they would stop the fight (in the 12th round). I'd love to fight any of the titleholders, any time, any place."
According to CompuBox punch stats, Usyk landed 321 of his 905 punches thrown, 36%. Hunter managed to land 24% of his punches, connecting 190 of 794. The fight drew an average of 679,000 viewers on HBO and peaked at 774,000 viewers.
World Boxing Super Series
On 1 July 2017, Usyk finally announced that he would join fellow cruiserweights Mairis Briedis, Murat Gassiev, Yunier Dorticos, Marco Huck and Krzysztof Włodarczyk in the 8-man bracket style tournament, due to start in September 2017. He said, "I feel happy and inspired with the idea of such a tournament. I've been dreaming of putting together all the champs to see who is the strongest and becomes the undisputed king of the division." The draw was to take place on July 8 in Monte Carlo. The winner of the tournament would receive a grand money prize and the Muhammad Ali trophy.
Usyk vs Huck
At the Draft Gala, Usyk, who had first pick, chose to fight former WBO champion Marco Huck (40–4–1, 27 KOs). When asked why he chose Huck, Usyk said, "Because of my fans." Huck, who was equally excited, replied that Usyk was his 'wish opponent'. On 26 July it was announced that the fight would take place at the Max Schmeling Halle in Berlin on 9 September 2017. This would mark the second time Usyk would fight in Germany in his professional career, having fought there on his third professional bout in April 2014. It would also mark the first fight of the tournament.
On 6 September 2017, at the final presser, Huck pushed Usyk in the face off. In regards to the shove, Huck said, "I wanted to show Usyk that he is my hometown and that he should be prepared for the battle of his life on Saturday." Usyk, who remained professional and calm, replied, "If you want to be a great champion, you have to beat the best and Huck is one of the best. I chose to enter this tournament because it is a path to achieve my dream of unifying all the belts. There’s a prestigious trophy at stake too, the Muhammad Ali Trophy. We were born on the same day and I admire Ali because he is the biggest role model in boxing and I will thank God if I win a trophy with his name on it." As he was leaving the building, Usyk claimed he would 'bury' Huck.
On fight night, Usyk used his footwork and combination punching to cruise to a TKO win. On top of his dominant performance, Usyk taunted Huck throughout the fight. In round 8, Usyk tripped on Huck's feet and Huck lost a point on the scorecards as he threw a punch at Usyk when the latter was down. Usyk continued to land combinations with little to no response from Huck until referee Robert Byrd stopped the fight in the tenth round. With the win, Usyk progressed to the semi-final stage of the Super Series and was to face the winner of the Mairis Briedis vs. Mike Perez, scheduled for 30 September.
Usyk vs Briedis
Usyk would next fight Mairis Briedis (23–0, 18 KOs) following the latter's win over Perez via unanimous decision. In November 2017, it was reported the fight would take place on 27 January 2018 in Riga, Latvia, a week before Gassiev vs. Dorticos takes place. Arēna Rīga was confirmed as the location by Comosa's Chief Boxing Officer Kalle Sauerland. Usyk came in at 199.5 pounds and Briedis weighed 199.1 pounds. Usyk moved on to the final of the tournament after defeating Briedis via majority decision. With a high work rate, Usyk controlled most of the fight with his jab put on pressure when needed. Briedis was credited with landing the more harder punches. The opening four rounds were closely contested and Usyk was cut from a head butt over his right eye in round 3. From round 5, Usyk became busier and took control of the fight, although he was still hit with some hard shots to the head from Briedis. One judge scored the fight 114-114, whilst the remaining two judges scored the fight 115-113 in favour of Usyk giving him the win. After the fight, Usyk stated it was the hardest fight of his career. According to CompuBox Stats, Usyk landed 212 of 848 punches thrown (25%) and Briedis was more accurate, landing 195 of his 579 thrown (33.7%). Usyk landed 40% of his power punches. Many boxers and pundits praised the fight.
Usyk vs Gassiev
After Usyk beat Briedis, it was announced in the post-fight press conference that the final in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, would take place on 11 May 2018. However, once Murat Gassiev (26-0, 19 KOs) stopped Yunier Dorticos, setting up the final, the secretary general of the Russian Boxing Federation, Umar Kremlev, stated that he would push forward in order to outbid Saudi Arabia and have the final of the tournament take place in Russia on the Day of Russian Boxing on 22 July. On 16 April, it was reported that Usyk had suffered an elbow injury during training, pushing the final to possibly June or July 2018. On 18 June, at a press conference, Kremlev announced the final would take place on 21 July at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow, Russia. On 29 June, the final was officially confirmed. On the release date, 7,000 tickets were sold. Both boxers came in at 198.45 pounds at the weigh-in.
Usyk quickly took control of the fight, moving rapidly and using his "beautiful, commandeering jab". Despite facing a hostile hometown crowd, Usyk controlled the fight, not allowing Gassiev to use his power. Gassiev did not land a solid punch until the end of round 2. Usyk outclassed, outboxed, and dominated Gassiev. The result was never in question as Usyk was declared winner by unanimous decision with the scores of 120-108, 119-109, 119-109. Muhammad Ali's widow, Lonnie Ali presented the trophy to Usyk. After the fight, both combatants were exemplars of good sportsmanship, embracing, with Gassiev saying "I had the best opponent of my professional career ... today is Oleksandr's day". Usyk humbly adding "My team made me look like I looked in the ring. This is our victory". The win made Usyk the first ever four belt undisputed cruiserweight champion. Usyk dominated throughout, landing 252 of 939 thrown punches (27%), compared to Gassiev's 91 landed of 313 thrown (29%). Usyk used his superior conditioning to finish the fight, also increasing his output by landing 47 of 117 punches thrown in round 12. Usyk managed to withstand the 32 power body shots he received and continued to move around the ring.
When asked who he would like to fight next, Usyk said, "At this time I have heard that Tony Bellew wants to fight the winner of the Muhammad Ali Trophy. I hope he will see me talking.... 'hey Tony Bellew, are you ready?' If he doesn't want to go down, I will go up for him. I will eat more spaghetti for my dinner!" Also after the fight Usyk said: "Olympic (stadium), thanks. People, countrymen and those who supported. Moscow 2018. Bang! Daddy's in the building!".
Undisputed Cruiserweight Champion
Usyk vs Bellew
After calling out Tony Bellew (30-2-1, 20 KOs) after winning the tournament, Bellew responded via Social Media that he would accept the fight, however stated the fight would need to take place in 2018 and for the undisputed cruiserweight championship. Bellew believed a fight at heavyweight would not be as appealing as he would not gain much with a win. Bellew also stated it would be his last fight as a professional. By the end of July, it was said the fight would likely take place in November 2018 in London. After positive meetings between Bellew's promoter Eddie Hearn and K2's Alexander Krassyuk, on 20 August, Boxing Scene reported the fight was likely to take place on 10 November 2018. A week later, K2 Promotions confirmed the date of the fight. On 5 September, the WBA ordered for Usyk to start negotiating with Denis Lebedev (30-2, 22 KO), who was their 'champion in recess' and gave them until the first week of October 2018 to complete negotiations. That was said to be a stumbling block for the potential Usyk vs Bellew fight. According to Hearn, the fight was likely to be pushed back to 2019. Prior to negotiations, Bellew stated the fight must happen in 2018.
On 7 September, Usyk signed a multi-fight deal with Matchroom Boxing, which meant he would fight exclusively on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in USA. The agreement meant Matchroom would co-promote Usyk alongside K2 Promotions. Usyk's next fight would be confirmed 'in the very near future', according to Hearn. A week after signing with Matchroom, the Usyk vs Bellew fight announced to take place on 10 November at the Manchester Arena, live and exclusive on Sky Box Office.
Usyk is married to Kateryna and the couple have 3 children (born in 2009, 2013 and 2015). They now live in Kiev, Ukraine.
Roughly one month after the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation Usyk declared (on 28 April 2014) he would never exchange his Ukrainian citizenship for a Russian one and that he considered Crimea a part of Ukraine.
In 2016, answering to a question if he can still enter Crimea and his patriotic position, he stated that he can enter Crimea after each of his fight; that he doesn't like to talk politics due to the fact that people like to take words out of context, that in Russia he has many fans and that he doesn't divide "our peoples because we are Slavs".
Anthony Lewis Bellew (born 30 November 1982) from Liverpool UK, held the WBC cruiserweight title from 2016 to 2017, and previously the British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight titles between 2010 and 2014, and the European cruiserweight title from 2015 to 2016. As an amateur, Bellew is a three-time ABA heavyweight champion. He made his acting debut with an antagonist role in the 2015 sports drama and seventh Rocky franchise film, Creed.
Fighting out of Liverpool's Rotunda ABC, Bellew claimed both the 2002 and 2003 novice ABA titles by knocking out every man he faced with the exception of Rob Hough who went the 3 rounds from Paramount ABC (Stockport) in the under 10 bouts championships. Then, when he was eligible for the Senior championships, he stepped up to the 91 kg heavyweight class and added even more titles to his collection. In 2006 he lost to Danny Price.
Bellew made his professional boxing debut on 6 October 2007 against journeyman Jamie Ambler and made a winning start with a second round win. He followed up the victory with further wins in 2007 over Adam Wilcox, fighting at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and Wayne Brooks at the Bolton Arena.
In 2008 Bellew defeated Paul Bonson, Ayitey Powers, Hastings Rasani, Jevgēņijs Andrejevs, and Phil Goodwin to take his record up to 8–0. During 2009 he advanced to an unbeaten 12–0 with further wins against Matthew Ellis, Nick Okoth, Jindrich Velecky, and Martial Bella Oleme.
On 12 March 2010 Bellew challenged for the vacant Commonwealth title at light heavyweight beating Atoli Moore at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. He made his first defence of the title on 24 September 2010 winning a victory against Bob Ajisafe at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London's Mayfair with Bellew having to recover from a flash knockdown during the fight. He made his second defence of the title on 9 December 2010, returning to the Echo Arena to stop former Commonwealth champion Ovill McKenzie in the 8th round despite suffering two knockdowns himself in the fight in both the 1st and 2nd rounds.
Bellew vs McKenzie I, II
On 18 May 2011 it was announced that Bellew would challenge Nathan Cleverly for the WBO light heavyweight title following a pullout from Cleverly's scheduled opponent Jürgen Brähmer with the fight due to be held only three days later on 21 May 2011. Bellew however, failed to make the weight and was replaced with Polish boxer Aleksy Kuziemski. On 16 July 2011 Bellew made the third defence of his Commonwealth title and also won the vacant British belt with a repeat victory over Ovill McKenzie, with the bout this time lasting the full 12 rounds.
Bellew vs Cleverly
It was announced that Bellew would fight Nathan Cleverly in Liverpool, on 15 October 2011, for the WBO light heavyweight title. Cleverly won the fight via majority decision. One judge scored the bout at 114–114 whereas the other two judges scored the bout at 117–112, and 116–113.
After losing to Nathan Cleverly, Bellew took on Danny McIntosh for the vacant British light heavyweight title, knocking McIntosh out in the 5th Round. Next he took on former World title challenger Edison Miranda for the WBC International belt, and stopped Miranda in the 9th Round.
Bellew vs Chilemba I, II
On 17 November 2012 he beat Argentine Roberto Bolonti for the WBC silver title. Bellew was cut badly but went the full 12 rounds to a win unanimous decision, taking him one step further to a second World title fight. On 30 March 2013, he fought Malawian boxer Isaac Chilemba in a title eliminator. The judges scored it a controversial draw. Chilemba granted a rematch which Bellew won on the scorecards after 12 rounds, with scores of 116–112, 116–112, and 117–112.
Bellew vs Stevenson
Bellew was made Mandatory Challenger for the WBC light heavyweight title following the win against Chilemba. However, a fight between Adonis Stevenson and Tavoris Cloud occurred on 28 September 2013 with the winner being made to defend his title against Bellew before the end of the year. Stevenson became the first boxer to stop Bellew winning the fight via TKO. In round 6, Stevenson put Bellew down with a left hand, he beat the count and the referee let the fight go on. Bellew was then knocked out standing by another pair of left hands before the referee could get in and put a stop to the bout. At the time of stoppage, Stevenson was ahead on the scorecards 50–45, 49–46, and 50–45. Bellew contemplated moving up to cruiserweight after the loss. According to Nielsen Media Research firm, the fight attracted an average of 1.3 million viewers on the HBO network, making it the 5th most watched bout of 2013.
Bellew celebrated his first fight as a cruiserweight with a 12th-round knockout of Valery Brudov on 15 March 2014 at the Echo Arena, Liverpool. This was for the vacant WBO International Cruiserweight title. Bellew successfully defended the title on 12 July 2014 against Julio Cesar Dos Santos via a 5th-round TKO. Dos Santos went down following a left to the jaw.
Bellew vs Cleverly II
On 22 November 2014 Bellew got his rematch against Nathan Cleverly, this time fighting as cruiserweights. The fight took place at the Echo Arena in Liverpool also a WBO cruiserweight championship eliminator. The title was held by Marco Huck at the time. The bout went 12 rounds as Bellew won via split decision 115–113, 116–112, and 114–115. In the post-fight interview, Bellew said, "I'm over the moon, listen it's over, it's put to bed. We said a lot of things. I don't like him now, but it's been settled tonight. It's over, it's done and I've outworked a great athlete." He also stated that he would accept a rematch at Millennium Stadium if there was any demand for it. Cleverly said he struggled with dealing with Bellew at a higher weight. After the fight, Cleverly moved back down to light heavyweight.
In 2015, Bellew fought two lower ranked European boxers. He defeated Ivica Bačurin via 10th-round TKO and Artūrs Kuļikauskis via 5th round TKO.
Bellew vs Masternak
On 29 November 2015, Sky Sports confirmed that Bellew would fight highly ranked Polish contender and former World title challenger Mateusz Masternak (36-3, 26 KOs) for the vacant European cruiserweight title.The fight took place on 12 December at the O2 Arena in London. Bellew produced a solid performance as the fight with Masternak was back and forth throughout. Going into the 12th round, Bellew was winning by one round. Bellew won the fight via unanimous decision 115–112, 115–112, and 115–113 to capture the European championship.
Bellew vs Makabu
On 29 May 2016, Bellew challenged for the WBC cruiserweight title, vacated by Grigory Drozd, who had been injured and not fought since his knockout win in May 2015. Bellew faced Ilunga Makabu (19-1, 18 KOs), who had not lost since his debut back in 2008, at Goodison Park in Liverpool. Makabu was scheduled to fight Drozd, only for the Russian to pull out with an injury, prompting the WBC to strip him. Bellew weighed in at 14st 3lbs 1oz while Makabu took to the scales at just over 14st. Bellew overcame a first-round knockdown to deliver a thunderous knockout of Makabu and become WBC champion, winning his first World title. During the post-fight interview, Bellew called out Denis Lebedev, but not in Russia and David Haye at cruiserweight.
Bellew vs Flores
Bellew announced he would be making his first voluntary defence of his World title at the Echo Arena on 15 October, against 37-year-old American boxer BJ Flores (32-2-1, 20 KOs) live on Sky Sports. This was the first time Flores challenged for a World title, having previously fought for an interim title and the IBO title. The WBC stated the winner had to fight Mairis Briedis next, the mandatory challenger, following his win over Olanrewaju Durodola. Briedis also fought on the undercard stopping unbeaten British prospect Simon Vallily. Mairis Briedis agreed to take a step a side fee to allow this fight to take place.
After an even first round, the second round proved to be brutal as Bellew hit Flores on the belt line. The referee did not see this as below the belt, however, Flores stopped for a few seconds to motion the referee that he had been hit with a low blow. Whilst doing so, Bellew piled on more pressure, eventually knocking Flores down. Bellew knocked Flores down a further two times in round 2 securing a 10–6 round in his favour. After a fourth knockdown in round three, Flores failed to beat the referee's count declaring Bellew the winner via knockout and making a first successful defence of the WBC World title. Following the win, Bellew called out David Haye, who was ringside, repeating that he was next. Referring to Haye as 'SpongeBob', Bellew carried on the verbal assault in the post-fight interview using profanity and taunting Haye, stating he has been 'conning the British public' since he announced his comeback. Eddie Hearn claimed the fight could take place at heavyweight or at cruiserweight for Bellew's WBC title.
Bellew vs Haye I, II
On 25 November 2016, Eddie Hearn announced via Twitter that Bellew's next fight would be against fellow Briton and former WBA heavyweight champion David Haye. The fight date was set for 4 March 2017 at The O2 Arena, London and was shown on Sky Box Office and was Bellew's first heavyweight fight. Due to the fight being at heavyweight, Bellew's WBC cruiserweight title was not on the line.
At the first press conference on 30 November, a fight broke out as Bellew and Haye went face to face and it appeared on the replay, Haye had managed to land a left hook on Bellew, leaving a mark. Both fighters were then separated before going their own ways. On 3 March 2017, Haye weighed 224.9 pounds, heavier than Bellew who came in at 213lbs, a career high. The bout started as a stalemate until the sixth round, where Haye injured his ankle and fell down twice. Bellew then took control of the fight as Haye opted to continue. Bellew knocked Haye down out of the ropes late in the eleventh round. Haye managed to make it to his feet, but his trainer Shane McGuigan threw in the towel, giving Bellew a TKO win. Bellew credited Haye for his bravery, while Haye refused to blame his injury and stated that Bellew was "by far the better fighter", though stated that he wanted a rematch. Bellew contemplated retiring after claiming he had done it all. He also revealed he broke his hand in the early rounds. At the time of stoppage, Bellew lead on all three scorecards 96–93. With a 60-40 split of the £7 million purse, Haye earned £4.2 million while Bellew eaned £2.8 million, his biggest purse by far. It was reported that the fight generated 890,000 buys on Box Office PPV.
On 14 March, Hearn said that Bellew would fight again in 2017, a day later, he told Sky Sports that Bellew may need surgery on his broken hand which could see him out of action for up to five months.
On 28 March, WBC changed Bellew's World championship status to Emeritus champion. This also meant the winner between Marco Huck and Mairis Briedis on 1 April would become new World champion and not Interim, as it was initially announced. The bout was won by Briedis, thus making him the new WBC champion.
In June 2017, Bellew stated that he would next fight in either November or December 2017. He had three potential names to consider, those being WBO champion Joseph Parker, WBC champion Deontay Wilder and a rematch with David Haye (28-3, 26 KOs). Parker was his main interest.
In July 2017, Bellew admitted that a potential fight with widely regarded pound for pound number one fighter and unified light-heavyweight champion Andre Ward was of interest and the teams of the respective fighters were currently in negotiations. On 3 August, Hearn stated a rematch between Bellew and Haye was 'virtually dead', due to both fighters believing they are the A-side and have the right to demand ring walks, poster, changing rooms and split of purse. On 6 September, Hearn stated a deal could be made within seven days. According to trainer David Coldwell, both Haye and Bellew had held positive talks and looking more likely to agree to a fight, as long they stay on the same page and agree to the same terms. On 19 September, Haye agreed all the terms and tweeted Bellew to sign the contract. He said, "It's taken months of negotiating but teams have finally agreed all terms for Haye-Bellew 2. Will Bellew put pen to paper?" The fight was reported to take place on Sunday 17 December 2017. Promoter Eddie Hearn stated the fight was not a done deal, but he had hoped to confirm the fight within a week. Bellew replied the following day, tweeting, "I OBLIGE YOU @mrdavidhaye , happy? Now leave me alone with my family please. I'll see you soon enough!" The fight was officially confirmed on 29 September for the fight to take place at the O2 Arena in London. Bellew claimed the rematch wasn't personal any more, just business and hoping to dedicate a win to his late brother-in-law, who had died in August. Haye stated that Bellew wouldn't win the lottery twice. Like the first fight, it was scheduled to be shown live on Sky Box Office.
On 20 November, it was reported that Haye had injured his arm and forced to pull out of the fight. In a statement, Haye said, "I am devastated to announce my much-anticipated rematch against Tony Bellew has been postponed until March 24 or May 5, subject to scheduling." It was believed that the injury occurred during a stair conditioning session. Bellew was said to be disappointed with Haye's announcement, but stated he may take an interim bout. Hours after the cancellation was confirmed, Tyson Fury released a video on social media calling out Bellew. In the video, he said, "I'll be ready, willing and waiting to fight Tony Bellew, May 5, O2 Arena, London." Dillian Whyte tweeted Hearn about taking Haye's place and then called Bellew a coward for declining the fight. Speaking about a potential Fury fight, trainer Dave Coldwell said, "That's not a fight I would entertain whatsoever. Fury is big, long and very, very clever in that ring. There's no way that I'd be interested in that fight." The fight was rescheduled for 5 May 2018. Haye weighed 220.2 pounds, 4 pounds lighter than the first fight. Bellew also came in lighter 210.4 pounds.
Bellew knocked Haye down three times eventually winning the fight via TKO in round 5. Haye started the opening two rounds using his jab, leaving a mark around Bellew's right eye. As round 3 started, both boxers started getting closer unloading power shots. As Haye started to step backwards around the ring, Bellew landed clean, dropping Haye. At this point it appeared Haye may have injured his ankle, with the Sky commentary team mentioning this, as well as the post fight interviewer. Haye later denied he was injured. Bellew then dropped Haye again with a hard combination. Bellew came out cautiously in round 4, still wary of Haye's power. In round 5, both traded punches, but it was a left hook from Bellew that dropped Haye a third time. Haye managed to beat the count again, not long before Bellew started unloading a barrage of punches. With Haye against the ropes, referee Howard Foster stepped in at 2 minutes, 14 seconds, giving Bellew his second stoppage win over Haye. Immediately after the fight Haye congratulated Bellew on the win. Bellew went on to dedicate the win to Ashley, his brother-in-law, who had died in August 2017. He also mentioned Andre Ward, who his team had brief negotiations with in 2017. Haye stated he would review the tapes and see what went wrong. According to Compubox Stats, Haye landed 42 of 189 punches thrown (22%), only 6 being power punches and Bellew landed 70 of his 219 thrown (32%), with 34 being power punches. Both boxers earned a minimum purse of £2.5 million for the fight, which would likely increase based on TV revenue and PPV shares.
Return to Cruiserweight
Bellew vs Usyk
On 21 July 2018, Oleksandr Usyk (15-0, 11 KOs) defeated Murat Gassiev via unanimous decision to become the undisputed cruiserweight World champion and become the first boxer to lift the Muhammad Ali Trophy. When asked who he would like to fight next, Usyk said, "At this time I have heard that Tony Bellew wants to fight the winner of the Muhammad Ali Trophy. I hope he will see me talking.... 'hey Tony Bellew, are you ready?' If he doesn't want to go down, I will go up for him. I will eat more spaghetti for my dinner!" Bellew responded via Social Media that he would accept the fight, however stated the fight would need to take place in 2018 and for the undisputed championship. Bellew believed a fight at heavyweight would not be as appealing as he would not gain much with a win. Bellew also stated it would be last fight as a professional. By the end of July, it was said the fight would likely take place in November 2018 in London. After positive meetings between Eddie Hearn and K2's Alexander Krassyuk, on 20 August, Boxing Scene reported the fight was likely to take place on 10 November 2018. A week later, K2 Promotions confirmed the date of the fight. On 5 September, the WBA ordered for Usyk to start negotiating with Denis Lebedev (30-2, 22 KO), who was their 'champion in recess' and gave them until the first week of October 2018 to complete negotiations. It was to be a stumbling block for the potential Usyk vs Bellew fight. According to Hearn, the fight was likely to be pushed back to 2019. Prior to negotiations, Bellew stated the fight must happen in 2018. On 7 September, Usyk signed a multi-fight deal with Matchroom Boxing, which meant he would fight exclusively on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in USA. A week after signing with Matchroom, the Usyk vs Bellew fight announced to take place on 10 November at the Manchester Arena, live and exclusive on Sky Box Office. Experienced British referee Terry O'Connor was named as the official. Bellew weighed 199¼ pounds, just over 2 years since he last made the cruiserweight limit and Usyk weighed 198¼ pounds.
Bellew is biracial; his mother is of African descent and his father is of European descent. He first lived on Mulgrave Street, Toxteth, Liverpool but moved to Smithdown Road in Wavertree, Liverpool.
Bellew is an avid supporter of Everton FC, and has been paraded on the Goodison Park pitch at half-time during a game. He enters the ring to the theme from Z-Cars, the same song that the players enter the pitch to during matches at Everton's home ground (Goodison Park).