By: Ste Rowen
In Sochi’s Bolshoy Ice Dome Murat ‘Iron’ Gassiev has knocked out WBA champion, Yunier ‘The KO Doctor’ Dorticos in the 12th round of an almost certain ‘Fight of the Year’, if not ‘Fight of the Decade’ contender.
The Cuban had the better start of the two fighters, making his reach advantage count. His 1-2’s keeping Gassiev at bay but for the spurts of counter combinations from ‘Iron’. It’s testament to Yunier’s chin that it took until the 5th round for ‘The KO Doctor’ to show any signs of weakness when Murat landed and Dorticos legs seemed to wobble ever so slightly.
He recovered well enough until the championships rounds when he really began to labour. The piston like jab and 1-2’s were gone and Gassiev began to overwhelm. In the 11th, the Russian landed cleanly again forcing Dorticos to clinch enough to bizarrely end up bending the IBF champ over the ropes.
Dorticos entered the final round in survival mode, but there was nowhere to hide. The first knockdown came from a wonderful left hook from the hip of Murat; the second from a more wild left hook, and the finisher came as the two fighters almost did a lap of the ring before Yunier backed up too far, took a huge right, then a left and found himself halfway through the ropes and looking up at the referee waving off the bout.
Post-fight the second unified cruiserweight champion in a week, Gassiev said,
‘I want to thank all Russian fans who come today to watch me. Thank you, all fans in the world who support me. Thank you Dorticos, he’s a really hard hitter. Good luck for his professional career. This is cruiserweight division and all around you, you have pressure … I don’t feel I finished him, he takes big punches and continued fighting.’
On the prospect of fighting Usyk, Murat kept it short and sweet,
‘First of all, congratulations. I hope in final we do good fight for all boxing fans.’
Usyk joined the winner in the ring and spoke via translator,
‘I want to congratulate Murat on his victory. I expect spectacular and beautiful fight.’
‘The KO Doctor’ didn’t speak in the ring afterwards but in the post-fight press conference he was consoled by his opponent as he began to cry. Via translator he said,
‘I’m sad … I feel like I’ve disappointed a lot of people; people in Miami, people in Cuba, a lot of people here today. I gave the best of me. He’s a strong fighter. I would like for him to give me a rematch.’
This week, the WBA upgraded Dorticos title from ‘Regular’ to ‘Super’ champion now meaning, for the first time, all four world titles will be on the line when IBF & newly crowned WBA champion, Murat Gassiev takes on WBO & WBC champion, Oleksandr Usyk in the final in May.
Briedis and Usyk brought the best out of each other, as did tonight’s semi-finalists. Surely there can be no doubt that Usyk v Gassiev will be yet another brutal but beautiful encounter.
On the undercard Fedor Chudinov notched up his third win in a row since being stopped by George Groves back in May last year. He forced a 7th round stoppage of Finnish, Timo Laine to move to 17-2 (12KOs).
The Finn seemed game enough from the start but Fedor was unmoved by his opponent’s occasional spurts of activity. The Russian dominated through the rounds, forcing 21-9 Laine onto the backfoot with bruising hooks to the body and head. Into round 7, Laine’s corner told him it was now or never. The Finn responded with a positive start to the round before Chudinov soaked it up and fired back with the accuracy he’d shown in the past six rounds. Just before the 8th, despite protest from their man, Laine’s corner pulled their fighter out and Fedor was claimed the victor. Tonight’s victory adds to a 2nd round stoppage of Jonathan Geronimo Barbadillo in July, and a routine 12-round decision win over then unbeaten, Ryan Ford in September.
Maksim Vlasov scored a 10th round TKO of Olanrewaju Durodola. He started on top and continued that way through the schedule 12-round fight. The man who conquered WBSS quarter finalist, Dmitry Kudryashov back in 2015 struggled to set himself and Vlasov’s pressure and combination punching proved to be too much as Durodola didn’t come out for the 11th round. Vlasov now moves to 42-2 (25KOs).