Tony Bellew had declared war but the Bomber was shot down by withering Ukrainian anti-aircraft fire as he reached in vain for the stars.
No undisputed world cruiserweight championship. No British history made in the first fight for all the four belts ever to happen in a ring in this country.
No glorious finale to a gallant career.
Oleksandr Usyk celebrates his emphatic victory over Tony Bellew with his impressive array of title belts on Saturday
The undefeated 31-year-old proudly holds up the Ukrainian flag inside the Manchester Arena after his latest victory
Usyk and Bellew showed true class to each other following the enthralling cruiserweight title fight on the weekend
Usyk knocked out Bellew in the eighth round with an emphatic and heavy blow at the Manchester Arena
The Ukrainian celebrates his emphatic victory inside the boxing ring on Saturday, which brought an end to Bellew’s career
35-year-old Englishman Bellew falls to the canvas as his promoter Eddie Hearn urges him on ringside
Bellew desperately attempts to get back up on his feet but he fails to do so after his eighth round knockout in Manchester
It all ended in a heap in the eighth round with the great Oleksandr Usyk kneeling in a prayer of thanksgiving in a neutral corner.
But also with good grace and a speech filled with sporting admiration for a maestro of the noble art.
‘Oleksandr,’ said Bellew. ‘You are a great champion. The greatest fighter I have ever shared a ring with. No complaints. No excuses.’
Just supplication to the master. Usyk set him up with seven rounds of tormenting southpaw jabbing. Relentless rights.
Then, we knew it was time, the holder of the WBC, WBA, IBF WBO and ring belts took aim with his merciless left.
Bang. Bellew reeled back with alarm in his eyes.
Bang. The Bomber crashed onto his back. He got as far as his knees when referee Terry O’Connor decided there was no point counting beyond seven.
It was not the glorious ending for which he had dared to take on a modern master but there was no shame in his exit.
Those who had come to the Manchester Arena dreaming of a miracle were sporting, too. They cheered and applauded Usyk’s skills, just as they gave Bellew a sympathetic send-off into retirement.
Anthony Joshua will have watched with fascination. Usyk plans on moving up to heavyweight and into Wembley Stadium next year.
Usyk lands the winning punch on the Englishman during the eighth round of the eagerly anticipated fight
Usyk and Bellew put on an enthralling boxing fight in front of the expectant fans in Manchester on Saturday night
The Liverpudlian tries to evade one of Usyk’s heavy blows by bending down inside the ring
Bellew started on the front foot but his 31-year-old opponent soon started to show his class during the fight
Bellew and Usyk exchange some blows during the early moments of the cruiserweight fight on the weekend
Bellew, who was expecting the toughest fight of his life, shows off his quick feet during the early exchanges
It has to be doubtful if Manchester has turned out ever before in such packed and raucous support of a Liverpudlian but this city was in full cry behind Bellew as he took his tilt at history.
For sure, the crowd and the atmosphere were boosted by the return to the championship trail of Anthony Crolla. They love their have-a-go neighbour here. But the boxing community had been won over also by Bellew’s courage in making a last throw of the dice against one of the most formidable of today’s world champions.
A working class hero is something to be, wherever he comes from.
Crolla played his part by setting too fast and furious a pace for Indonesian contender Daud Yordan as he ran away with a unanimous decision – 116-112 on the cards of all three judges – which notionally sets him up for another WBA world lightweight title shot.
But even as Crolla was putting the finishing touches to his evening’s work the loudest cheers thus far came as pictures of Bellew in his dressing room and ready to go appeared on the big screens.
No doubt it helped that he was decked out – gumshield and all – in Everton blue not Liverpool red.
Bomber bedlam broke out as he entered the arena, taking his place on a spot-lit plinth with sirens wailing before jogging the last yards to the ring for the final time.
Jeers accompanied Usyk on his journey but he is accustomed to fighting in hostile environments thousands of miles from home. For good measure he crossed himself before glaring balefully at the crowd.
After all the talk the first minutes were cagey and it was Bellew who went onto the attack first. There was barely so much as southpaw jab from Usyk as Bellew took the opener, almost by default.
Bellew steps into the ring ahead of his fight against the undefeated Ukrainian on Saturday night in Manchester
Bellew walks out to the ring from his dressing room as the excited fans take pictures of the man of the moment
The champion got that right working in the second and Bellew showed his temper when Usyk laughed when clipped. Each landed on big shot but Usyk was the busier.
Bellew had threatened to show he was on the evasive as Usyk came looking for behind that jab. It was still cagey and Bellew just edged the third with a late flurry.
The pair smiled at each other as they both evaded power shots from the other. Bellew tried to sucker Usyk in by resting his arms back on he ropes. But Usyk had marginally better of the subsequent, menacing exchanges.
Bellew managed a couple of meaty lefts in the fifth but he spent most of the round eating the Usyk punch and was caught a couple of times himself.
In frustration of Bellew’s desire for a brawl, Usyk was living up to his promise of ‘do my usual boxing.’ The Bomber was trying to work out the maestro but it was a subdued first half to the fight with only the occasional roar for Bellew.
Usyk did not seem to have the power to discourage Bellew but he was defusing the Bomber with his speed and movement and for the most part keeping him on the back foot.
Bellew was being forced to play the part of counter-puncher and the end was nigh.
Usyk finally unveiled the brilliance which puts him in the top five pound-for-pounder in the world. A flurry of rights was followed by staggering left. As Bellew fell back the Ukrainian went for the finish.
A massive left dropped the British challenger flat on his back. With no hope of him rising fully the referee waved it off before finishing the ten count.
Amir Khan hangs out with former American boxer Thomas Hearns ahead of Bellew’s eagerly anticipated fight with Usyk