Tony Bellew’s negotiations to fight Oleksandr Usyk couldn’t have been simpler – in stark contrast to the Ukrainian’s ongoing talks with Tyson Fury.
Before Usyk would move up to heavyweight and become unified champion, he held all four belts in the cruiserweight ranks. His final fight was his first on British shores against local fan-favourite and former WBC champ, Tony Bellew.
Bellew told the Peter Crouch podcast, as reported by The Sportsman, that he was actually retired and on his honeymoon at the time the fight was made.
“I’ll just give you a little quick story why you shouldn’t have a phone or agree to anything when alcohol is in your body. Because the last time I agreed to something and alcohol was in my body, I ended up getting beaten up by a fella called Oleksandr Usyk.”
“So you shouldn’t agree deals when alcohol is in the system. I was on my honeymoon, officially retired from professional boxing. Someone showed me a fight Usyk was having on the TV, told me to watch it, that maniac screamed my name out after the fight with the four belts around his waist.”
“P***ed as an absolute fart, I phoned up Eddie Hearn, bearing in mind I’d just beaten David Haye in the rematch, I’d retired. I’d just had my wedding, which Eddie was at, and I said ‘Eddie, make the fight’. Eddie’s words were ‘Tony, you don’t need that you’re happily retired, I was at your wedding last week, you’ve done it, you’ve cracked life. You’ve made enough money to never have to work again, you’ve done alright’.
Despite his promoter’s words of wisdom, Bellew pushed for it through sheer Dutch courage.
He woke up the next morning with a sore head and a fight against arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport to train for.
“So the next day, I woke up, I’ve got four missed calls off Eddie Hearn the next morning, it’s about 10:30 in the morning. He says ‘it’s all done, it’s sorted’.
“I said ‘What do you mean?’ He said ‘Usyk fight’. I said ‘I have no idea what you’re on about’. He said ‘you phoned me last night and told me if you don’t make the fight, you’ll make it yourself’, and that’s how the fight with Oleksandr Usyk came about.”
Bellew was knocked out in the eighth round and retired from the sport for good. As for Usyk, he moved up in weight and won two fights before challenging for Anthony Joshua’s IBF, WBO and WBA belts.
He won, and then won again in a rematch, and finds himself trying to set up a scrap with Fury to be undisputed a second time around.
Those talks, however, are nowhere near as simple as what he had with Bellew. Recent developments have left his team doubtful that the fight goes ahead.