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'He's an exceptional fighter who deserves all the awards in the world': Bellew praises 'elite' Usyk

As Oleksandr Usyk looks forward to a much-needed rest, Tony Bellew praised the Ukrainian.

Tony Bellew is knocked down in the eighth round by Oleksandr Usyk.
Tony Bellew is knocked down in the eighth round by Oleksandr Usyk.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

TONY BELLEW HAILED Oleksandr Usyk and confirmed he was retiring after losing to the Ukrainian in Manchester on Saturday.

Bellew was stopped in the eighth round by Usyk, who retained his cruiserweight titles and perfect record.

The 35-year-old who confirmed his retirement, was full of praise for the 16-0 Usyk.

“He’s an exceptional fighter who deserves all the awards in the world. I lost to one of the pound-for-pound best,” Bellew told Sky Sports.

“I have no excuses. He is an amazing fighter.

“He is the greatest man I have ever shared a ring with. I wish [him] greatness. I’m a world-class fighter, but that was the difference between world class and elite level.”

Oleksandr Usyk v Tony Bellew - Manchester Arena Usyk celebrates after his victory at the Manchester Arena. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

The fight was the third of the year for Usyk, who added the WBC, WBA and IBF titles to his collection to become the unified cruiserweight champion.

But the 31-year-old said he was in desperate need of a rest after a big 2018.

“This has been a very successful year but it has also been the toughest year of my career. So right now my primary concern is my rest,” Usyk said.

“And I want to spend some time with my family.”

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