And Hearn, the Matchroom Sport boss who guided the final six years of "Bomber's" glittering career, which also included British, Commonwealth and European honours, praised the 35-year-old after Saturday night's showdown at Manchester Arena. Bellew failed on the biggest stage at light-heavyweight but proved a different animal at cruiserweight and in his two fights in the blue riband heavyweight division.
"I went out against the best cruiserweight and he can lay claim to being the greatest cruiserweight of all time". England's Bellew (30-2-1, 20 KOs) weighed in at 199 LBS and Ukraine's Usyk officially weighed 198¼ LBS.
The fighter had been told by his wife, Rachael, with whom he has three sons, that he "will be divorced" if he ever steps into a ring again.
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"I can't remember what round that was", Bellew said.
In a fight that was more evenly matched than most had expected, Bellew was ahead 67-66 68-65 on two of the scorecards and level 67-67 on the third going into the decisive round after coming out fighting from the start. I like a bit of back and forth but ultimately I admire him. He's brilliant, I have no bad words to say about Oleksandr, I only wish him well.
"I gave it everything I had, he is an exceptional champion". He punches plenty hard enough to make the giants like Joshua, WBC champion Deontay Wilder and linear champion Tyson Fury respect him. I'm game. If Usyk wants it he can have it. 'Nah, listen. Don't boo him. He's just a great fighter, but, Eddie, thank you. I've had some ups and downs but I chose to do this one more time and it hasn't worked out. I believe he'd defeat Joshua now, if they met in Joshua's next fight. "My three boys are multi-millionaires and I've earned every single penny by punching people in the face, I never dreamed this would ever be possible". "It's definitely over, you'll not see me in a ring again". 'We can do great things in boxing [together with Hearn],' Krassyuk added.