TONY BELLEW ended his boxing career with no regrets and now wants to retreat into a normal family life after defeat to undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.
Bellew had the opportunity to become the first Briton to hold all four major world titles in a weight class simultaneously on his career swansong at a raucous Manchester Arena.
Despite being a huge underdog with bookmakers, the 35-year-old made an encouraging start against the Ukrainian, who is regarded as among the finest in any division on the planet.
But there was to be no fairytale finish for the brave Liverpool boxer, who was put down with a crisp right jab-left hook combination before referee Terry O’Connor called it off two minutes into the eighth round.
‘I just tried to take that one final step and I wasn’t good enough but I’ll be able to live with that,’ said Bellew.
‘If I wouldn’t have taken this fight, that would have killed me because I would have always been (asking), ‘‘was I good enough?’’. The fact of the matter is I wasn’t. He’s better than me.
‘If I’m being honest I got tired for the first time in my entire career. He’s brilliant, I’ve no bad words to say about Oleksandr, I only wish him well.
‘I went out against the best cruiserweight and he can lay claim to being the greatest cruiserweight of all time.
‘No excuses, I gave it everything, I couldn’t have prepared any better. My career is over. I’ve been doing this for 20 years.’
Bellew (30-3-1, 20 KOs) won belts at British, Commonwealth and European level before taking the vacant WBC cruiserweight title by stopping the feared Ilunga Makabu at Liverpool’s Goodison Park in May 2016.
He added: ‘I just want to disappear, please leave me alone.
‘I just want to be a normal person, I’ve never wanted anything more than to be just a normal man.
‘I want reality back. I want a normal life and I will find it.’