Oleksandr Usyk sent Tony Bellew into retirement with a loss by stopping the Liverpudlian in the eighth round of their battle in Manchester.
Bellew was aiming for history in his final fight as a professional, challenging Usyk for his WBC, WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, The Ring and lineal cruiserweight titles.
A cagey first round inside a raucous atmosphere had the crowd rocking, as Bellew had early success keeping Usyk at bay and disrupting his rhythm.
With Bellews confidence soaring, he taunted Usyk after landing a good right hand in the second round. The British fans roared in response, but Usyk did not take the bait, instead firing off a warning in the form of a lightning combination that sent Bellew back tracking.
Bellews bravado continued in the third round and a wild right from Usyk missed by a mile at the end of the bell. But Usyk stepped up the pace in the fourth, showing off his hand speed and landing a punishing left hook.
Bellews mood was not swayed, despite Usyks impressive jab beginning to pop off in the fourth round. The champion hurt Bellew momentarily with a left hook, but the Brit answered with his own big right.
Usyk continued to move through the gears and took control of the ring in the sixth round. The Ukrainian stalked Bellew and right at the end of the round rocked the challenger with another crunching left hand.
It was a momentary lack of concentration from Bellew, who swayed on his feet as the bell arrived. Usyk could feel Bellew fading and began to offload in the eighth, dumping Bellew to the canvas with a looping left cross.
Bellew was visibly emotional at the end of the fight, shedding tears in the corner with his coach, Dave Coldwell.
I tried my best and gave it everything. Usyk is a great, great champion, Bellew said.
He beat me fair and square, I have no excuses. Oleksandr is the greatest man I have ever shared a ring with.
Only the very best and very greatest will find a way to beat him.