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World Boxing Super Series Preview: Rodriguez vs. Moloney, Dorticos vs. Masternak


By: Ste Rowen

In Orlando’s CFE Arena, a venue normally associated with basketball, World Boxing Super Series season one semi-finalist, Yunier Dorticos of Cuba faces Polish cruiserweight veteran, Mateusz Masternak for the right to face Andrew Tabiti in the next round of the Super Series tournament. Alongside the cruiserweight’s second, the 3rd round of WBSS bantamweights get underway as IBF champion, Emmanuel Rodriguez fights, Jason Moloney for the chance to face Naoya Inoue.

Yunier ‘KO Doctor’ Dorticos hasn’t fought since his Fight of the Year contender vs. Murat Gassiev last February. The Miami resident was brave, and emotional, in defeat eight months ago as he went tit-for-tat with then IBF champion Gassiev until ultimately, the Cuban was nailed with a wonderful counter left hook, shot from the hip, by the Russian and handing Dorticos his first professional defeat.

However, ‘The KO Doctor’ is far from down about that loss, if anything, going off the WBSS YouTube pre-fight documentary, Dorticos is more confident than ever,

‘‘Masternak? Master of nothing…Things are going to get really ugly for him.’’

‘‘I have to train to entertain…My style is aggressive, and I’ve always been aggressive… I respect my opponents as people, but I don’t respect them in the ring. I go out to get them.’’

Now 22-1 (21KOs), Yunier has no intention of changing his style this time around,

‘‘The defeat to Gassiev hurt, but when you get knocked down you get up again…Believe me, I am going to KO everyone in front of me this season…I’m here today because of a lot of sacrifice…No one ever gave me anything…’’

Mateusz ‘Master’ Masternak is 31 now but turned professional over twelve years ago. Perhaps defined mostly by his defeats, of which include the supremely talented, but injury-ridden Grigory Drozd and future Usyk opponent, Tony Bellew; Masternak does have victories over potential future hall of famer Jean Marc Mormeck, and twice winning against, his and Dorticos’ shared opponent, Youri Kalenga.

Currently 41-4 (28KOs), ‘Master’ recognizes the enormity of both the bout, and the challenge his opponent represents,

‘‘This is the most important fight of my career. It will determine whether I’m a world class boxer or a second league player…Dorticos is a great boxer. He made a great impression on the first edition of the tournament…But the odds aren’t stacked against me. If we do what we plan, we’ll be celebrating success.’’

It’s not just the Cuban juggernaut heading his way that Mateusz has to deal with. The Pole opened up about his struggle with long term spinal injuries but also, post-Bellew fight in 2015, problems with his vision,

‘‘Following the fight with Tony, I had crossed eyes…There was a problem when I turned my head, I had double vision. So, I saw two heads, so in order to be able to fight I had to change my boxing style.’’

‘‘I’ve been a professional boxer for 12 years, and my dream is to become the world champion. Never before have I been this close to achieving my goal.’’

The remaining quarter-finals to take place, both on the 10th November at Chicago’s UIC Pavilion, in the cruiserweight WBSS are;

Mairis Briedis vs. Noel Gevor
Krzysztof Glowacki vs. Maksim Vlasov

Emmanuel Rodriguez vs. Jason Moloney

In the third fight of the 118lb World Boxing Super Series, IBF champion, Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Rodriguez comes up against undefeated contender, Jason Moloney of Australia.

When Rodriguez, 18-0 12KOs) faced Paul Butler for the vacant IBF 118lb title earlier this year, it was all but confirmed that the winner would enter the World Boxing Super Series. Extra motivation perhaps then as, the Puerto Rican dominated ‘Baby Faced’ Butler over 12-rounds to claim his first world honours and dream of being THE man at 118lb.

Now the man tournament favourite, Naoya Inoue, named the ‘‘…best fight for me’’, has the opportunity to impress the audience and maybe, the Japanese ‘Monster’,

‘‘It’s now or never…I’m in this to win. We’re not here just to make up the numbers.’’

‘‘We’re going to be fully prepared for Jason Moloney. We know he’s unbeaten. He’s the mandatory challenger and hungry to be the world champion, just as I was when I had the opportunity.’’

‘‘I know I have the tools to beat Jason Moloney and anyone else that gets in our way.’’

Jason Moloney, twin brother of superfly contender, Andrew, earnt his path into the WBSS thanks to a technical stoppage over Kohei Kono. Currently the Ring Magazine’s 7th ranked bantamweight, the Australian cut Kono via a punch in round 3, which subsequently forced the end of the fight as the same cut, above the left eye, led to the referee waving off the bout at the beginning of the 7th, with Moloney clearly ahead on the cards.

Fighting outside of Australia for the first time, Jason, 17-0 (14KOs), is keen to prove his place in the tournament isn’t down to good luck,

‘‘I know I am the underdog in this tournament…People write me off because they haven’t seen much of me yet but, that excites me…It doesn’t worry me who we’re fighting. Stylistically I think I match up very well with Rodriguez.’’

‘‘The fans can expect an explosive, entertaining, all action fight. It’s my time to show the world what I’m capable of…If I fight to the best of my ability, I’ll win the fight.’’

The winner of Saturday’s 118lb matchup will take on Naoya Inoue at the semi-final stage. The fourth and final bantamweight quarter-final to take place will be between WBA ‘Super’ champion, Ryan Burnett and future hall of famer, Nonito Donaire, in Glasgow two weeks from this Saturday. The winner of that bout can look forward to a fight with WBO titlist, Zolani Tete, who grinded his way to victory over Mikhail Aloyan last weekend in Russia.

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WBSS Results: Gassiev Knocks Out Dorticos in Final Round of Slugfest


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).

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WBSS Preview: Murat Gassiev v Yunier Dorticos


By: Ste Rowen

As the dust settles in Riga, following the unification clash between Oleksandr Usyk and Mairis Briedis, which saw Usyk take control of both the WBO and WBC titles. The hype is just getting going in Sochi for the second cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series semi-final, as Murat ‘Iron’ Gassiev faces off against Yunier ‘The KO Doctor’ Dorticos.

It’s a battle of the powerhouses with Russian, Gassiev’s record currently standing at 25-0 (18KOs), as opposed to his Cuban opposition’s 22-0 (21KOs).

Both fighters scored very different but equally as brutal knockouts in the quarter finals. Murat cut former world champion, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in half to win a 3rd round stoppage in Newark. Dominating the early rounds before landing a left-hand finisher to the body which kept Krzysztof down long after the 10-count was up.

Just less than a month earlier, Dorticos made light work of heavy hitting Russian, Dmitry Kudryashov. He knocked out the, 21-1 (21KOs) at-the-time fighter in the second round by making him miss, then making him pay; dodging a left hook before firing off a right hand that sent the Russian’s eyes rolling into Christmas.

Speaking at a joint press conference immediately after Gassiev’s win over Wlodarczyk back in October, Dorticos was in a very confident mood,

‘I don’t really see anything that necessarily stands out. He’s defeating competition that is older than him. He fought a guy who has terrific history but at the end of the day his opponent tonight was old. Now he’s gonna fight someone that is similar to him.

Take a good vacation but I’m gonna prepare the right dosage for you of ibuprofen and anaesthesia for the next fight so the pain is less.’

Murat left his trainer, Abel Sanchez to give an assessment on his next opponent,

‘I think both guys have to be confident going into this fight. 25 guys now have tried with Murat and 25 guys have failed so I don’t see anything in Dorticos that is gonna pose problems. Yes, he can punch but so can Murat, let’s see who can take them.’

The 12,000-seat capacity Bolshoy Ice Dome will be the venue on Saturday. It’s the first time the stadium will hold a boxing event since it opened back in 2012.

Warmer climates await however for the winner, as the final will take place in Saudi Arabia in around four months time. Date and venue yet to be confirmed.

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WBSS: Semi-Final Locations Announced for Gassiev vs. Dorticos


By: Ste Rowen

The clash of the KO kings of the cruiserweight division will land in Sochi on February 3rd.

IBF champion, Murat Gassiev will face WBA ‘Regular’ champion, Yunier Dorticos for a place in the cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series final. A final signed to take place in Saudi Arabia around May next year.


Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series

It will be Murat’s first fight in Russia since he beat Denis Lebedev to win the IBF belt in December 2016 at Khodynka Ice Palace, Moscow. His one and only defence of the belt he won that night was his quarter final body-shot KO of Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in Newark two months ago.

Along with his fight of the year contender with Youri Kalenga in Paris, this will be Dorticos’ only second fight outside of the US. The Cuban impressively knocked out quarter final opponent, and Russian Dmitry Kudryashov in California to reach the semi-finals.

The two fighters have accumulated thirty-eight knockouts in forty-seven fights between them, as Gassiev’s record stands at 25-0-0 (18KOs) and Dorticos’ to date, 21-0-0 (20KOs).

After the announcement the Russian said,
‘The location for the semi-final was not important for me but the fact that it will be in Russia and the beautiful city of Sochi makes me very glad…Dorticos is a very good, dangerous fighter. It is going to be great test of my skills against an opponent like him.’

‘The KO Doctor’ Dorticos said,
‘No matter where I fight I will work hard to take my opponent out… I can’t wait to show Gassiev and the fans in Russia what ‘The KO Doctor’ is about.

The second semi-final between WBO champion, Oleksandr Usyk and WBC champion Mairis Briedis will take place in Briedis’ home town and quarter-final location, Riga, Latvia on 28th January.

Briedis, 23-0-0 (18KOs) eased to a unanimous points decision victory, in a particularly-difficult-watch quarter-final against Cuban, Mike Perez.

13-0-0 (11KOs) Usyk dominated Marco Huck in his quarter-final before stopping the German in the tenth round. It will be Usyk’s fifth fight on the road since he stopped Pedro Rodriguez in the seventh round at the Palace of Sports, Kiev back in December 2015.

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The World Boxing Super Series Begins


The World Boxing Super Series Begins
By: Matthew N. Becher

Over the past weekend, the newly created World Boxing Super Series held its very first draft, for its very first tournament. The premise of the new tournament is an open competition for any professional boxer that is ranked in the top 15 of the major sanctioning bodies systems.

WBSS

In theory the best fighters would face off against one another, until the last man was standing, thus making him the #1 boxer in that weight class. Simple. That is the easy part, the hard part is getting the best fighters to all participate in such a tournament, with everyone having different promoters and so forth. Fortunately, it seems to have worked out for the initial Cruiserweight Tournament.

The seeding of the tournament went as follows. The top 4 fighters were ranked 1-4 by the WBSS, with the four belt holders getting the top rankings.

1: Oleksander Usyk (WBO)
2: Murat Gassiev (IBF)
3: Mairis Briedis (WBC)
4: Yunier Dorticos (WBA)

Then from 1-4, the fighter was allowed to pick or draft his opponent from a group of 4 boxers, for their first round fight. (An exception was made for Gassiev, who had a mandatory against Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. That fight was picked for him)

The first round of the tournament looks like this.

Oleksander Usyk (12-0 10KO) v. Marco Huck (40-4-1 27KO)
Murat Gassiev (24-0 17KO) v. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (53-3-1 37KO)
Mairis Briedis (22-0 18KO) v. Mike Perez (22-2-1 14KO)
Yunier Dorticos (21-0 20KO) v. Dmitry Kudryashov (21-1 21KO)

Literally the best of the best in the Cruiserweight division will be competing against each other, until one is standing with all the belts, the inaugural Muhammad Ali Trophy and possibly a $1 million dollar bonus for advancing though semifinals and the championship round.

The tournament is slated to begin in early September and rap up by Mary of next year. The location of the fights have yet to be determined and will be placed in locations that match up well for each fight.

“To unify a division and spotlight a division that has clearly been underappreciated, even though the fights in the ring are always among the most exciting in the sport, irrespective of the division, that those four champions, if you look at the record – they are all undefeated. Most of their wins, the vast majority have come by knockout. So these are all big punchers, undefeated. I’m really excited,” said Richard Schaefer, the Chairman of the Americas for Comosa, who helped put this field together alongside fellow promoter Kalle Sauerland (the Chief Boxing Officer for Comosa).

This is a very exciting tournament for boxing and especially for the roll out of the new World Boxing Super Series. With formats like this, expect many division to start falling in line and possibly getting to see the best match up against the best in the near future.

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