One Night in Moscow: Usyk Outclasses Gassiev
By: Ste Rowen
We have a new undisputed champion and king of the cruiserweights. Oleksandr Usyk outclassed the previously unbeaten, Murat Gassiev to claim supremacy of the 200lb division.
The ring walks, the atmosphere, but maybe not the fight itself. Everything we hoped would be tonight almost was. Usyk’s class showed but Gassiev’s quality went missing.
Photo Credit: World Boxing Super Series Twitter Account
The first bell rang and one of the most important fights of this decade began. Gassiev, in metallic-black shorts with a white stripe, seemed to be going with the same tactics as the beginning of his semi-final bout with Yunier Dorticos, allowing Usyk the centre ground and see what he had to give. Usyk, in the white, gold and blue of Ukraine, stalked Murat around the ring, patiently firing off the jab. The two clearly respected the other’s skillset.
It took a minute of the 2nd round for ‘Iron’ Gassiev to show his Ukrainian foe what he was about, landing a heavy head and body combination, which got the crowd going. Usyk was the more active of the two but it was clear, as most predicted, that Murat’s power was a massive influencer in the way Oleksandr was fighting.
It was thought by many that the Russian’s boxing aptitude was underrated heading into tonight, but it was undoubted, even from the early rounds, no other big man moves like Usyk. Heavyweight, Tyson Fury perhaps comes closest, but the Ukrainian has displayed this kind of fluidity consistently against the best of his division. Through rounds 3 & most of 4 it was on show again. It’s testament to Murat that he kept his composure and didn’t allow himself to show frustration early on. However, at the end of the 4th, ‘Iron’ landed a massive right hand from the waist that clearly shook the Ukrainian, enough for Usyk to come in close and hold until the bell.
Usyk proved he was prepared for his opponent’s power though, as he resumed his jab and move tactics into the next round and showed no signs of weariness from that right hand. Into round 7, and the WBC & WBO champion was into his rhythm now, comfortable with his razor sharp 1-2’s and move. Even if he lacked the power his opponent held, Usyk was fighting as if it was an Olympic event.
Gassiev needed to disrupt his rival’s flow. It was clear by the 8th, the Ukrainian was on top. The stablemate of Gennady Golovkin, even with the occasional, cleanly shot, right hook couldn’t force the 2012 Olympic gold medallist back.
By the start of the 10th Usyk was well on top. Murat just looked as if he had no answers, as if Usyk was a step too far. Oleksandr by now had added a nastiness to his shots, they seemed to be taking a little more out of ‘Iron’ than before. In between 9 & 10, Gassiev’s trainer, Abel Sanchez was heard saying,
‘’You’ve got 3 rounds…You’re not going to get the decision unless you put this man on the floor.’’
But what could the Russian do? The southpaw in Usyk was too elusive, too demoralising in every punch he landed. He tapped on Gassiev’s guard and then was gone by the time Murat looked up
In the championship rounds of the WBSS semi-final between Gassiev vs. Dorticos, Murat had the upper hand, it was by no means a formality but ‘Iron’ had the momentum and the lead. Tonight, in round 11, it was one-hitter-quitter time for ‘Iron’.
Does Murat only respect power? He knew Lebedev and Dorticos had it, as well as a world class chin that’s why when they met, Gassiev’s output was high and his boxing measured. Tonight? Not even close. Maybe the Ukrainian just has Gassiev’s number.
As round 12 was upon us, it was now or never, and Abel Sanchez was audibly telling his fighter that in the corner. Usyk never veered from the game plan, firing off fast paced three-punch point scoring combos. They weren’t testing Gassiev’s chin, they were testing his mentality, and with a minute left of the 12th, Murat looked done.
The final 10 seconds, an Usyk Ali-Shuffle, and then the final bell. How fitting for one of the greatest boxing displays in a long time.
The three were from the US and Belgium, we can trust these guys, right? Turns out we could, unlike some of tonight’s undercard bouts. There was no doubt, and the scorecards returned as 120-108, 119-109, 119-109 all in favour of the WBC, IBF, WBA, WBO, Ring Magazine and the Muhammad Ali Trophy champion of the world, Oleksandr Usyk.
Speaking post-fight, the now beltless Gassiev, and now 26-1 (19KOs), was complimentary to his opponent,
‘‘I want to congrats Usyk’s team. I want to thank all boxing fans. This is a very good experience for me…Every fighter is different, and you never know what will happen, you just do the best job you can do. In cruiserweight division you have a chance from first round to the last round. I listen to my corner and do my best.’’
Usyk, now 15-0 (11KOs), was obviously in a much more jubilant mood, loosely translated, the cruiserweight king said,
‘‘Thanks God. Thank you to everyone in my training camp. I was this good in the ring because of my team…The first thing I thought when my hand was raised, ‘Oh, Jesus Christ.’.’’
‘‘We need to take a rest, after that… I heard Tony Bellew is looking for a fight. Tony Bellew, are you ready? If he doesn’t wanna go down, I will go up.’’
Whatever happens next, for the first time in cruiserweight history, all four belts now belong to one man.
Cecilia Braekhus vs. Inna Sagaydakovskaya
Fighting for every belt conceivable in the women’s game, Cecilia Braekhus retained her undisputed status by defeating unbeaten challenger Inna Sagaydakovskaya via 10-round decision.
From the first bell, and as expected, Braekhus looked the more comfortable of the two boxers, Inna 7-0 (3KOs), wasn’t afraid to let her hands go and attempt to gain the early respect from the ‘First Lady’ but, the Norwegian was efficient with her punches. When Sagaydakovskaya threw – and missed – three shots, Cecilia landed cleanly with one.
In round three, with Braekhus on top, the undisputed champion slipped and as she was down, the Russian helped herself to a free shot. It did nothing but anger Cecilia. The overhand right from the Norwegian seemed to be landing every time. ‘Ice Queen’ Sagaydakovskaya, though persistent, was unable to stop the power punches landing.
By round 7, the ‘First Lady, trained by Jonathan Banks, was proving her class. The latest challenger to her throne was very game but ultimately a level below. Round 8 seemed to epitomise the fight.
The Colombian-born, Braekhus, went through the motions, making every shot, every manoeuvre seem simple, as the ‘Ice Queen’ struggled to find a way in and land a bout-changing punch.
Sagaydakovskaya’s conditioning is to be applauded. She was relentless in her offense, even in 2-minute rounds, and so obviously behind. Braekhus almost took her Russian foe out before the final bell as she put her foot down in the 10th, but even though she didn’t get Inna out of there early, it was mightily impressive from the welterweight.
The final scorecards weren’t revealed, but Braekhus was announced as the winner by unanimous decision and still, the WBC, IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO welterweight champion of the world.
Fedor Chudinov vs. Nadjib Mohammedi
Fighting for the WBA ‘International’ super middleweight strap, Fedor Chudinov scored a controversial 12-round split decision victory over Nadjib Mohammedi.
The two fighters made a tentative start to the bout, both choosing to fight off non-committal jabs, and it was close heading into round four, if a little too slow for the crowd’s liking. Chudinov seemed to have the edge though. His punches were having more of an effect on Mohammedi than the Frenchman’s were having on Fedor.
‘Flat footed’ is something that is continuously used to describe the Russian, and in little bursts of the fight, Chudinov was victim to brief, quick-handed assaults from his opponent that a more agile boxer would’ve avoided.
The bell for round 6 seemed to flick a switch in Mohammedi, who headed into tonight with a 40-5 (23KOs) record, as he came out swinging, trying to gain the initiative in a fight lacking sustained action. Whilst Chudinov did regain control of the pace of the fight, he continued to use his head as his best defence, and even through rounds 7 & 8, when the Russian was on top, Nadjib was landing point scoring counters which the judges should’ve noticed.
Mohammedi, who built his career fighting at light heavyweight, was unbeaten as a super middle and in rounds 9 & 10 he looked the brighter and more comfortable of the two. By now, Fedor had been resigned to wild, hopeful swinging. The championship rounds gave us more of the same from the Frenchman, specifically in the 10th as he teed off on his Russian foe’s face. There wasn’t even any urgency from Fedor as the bell rang for the 12th round, he was robotic in his movements – if the robot was slowly shutting down.
The fight went the distance, and it felt as if only ‘hometown’ judge’s cards stood between Nadjib and the victory. Sadly, this is boxing, and that’s exactly what we got. The judge’s scores came back as, 115-113, 111-118, 116-112, officially, a split decision victory in favour of Chudinov. Even Fedor, now 18-2 (12KOs) couldn’t disguise his surprise in having his arm raised. The Moscow crowd booed the result and then cheered Mohammedi as he protested in the ring.
The only semblance of justice now is for an immediate rematch to be called, don’t expect Mohammedi to return to Russia anytime soon.
Mairis Briedis vs. Brandon Deslaurier
World Boxing Super Series semi-finalist and former WBC cruiserweight champion, Mairis Briedis of Latvia scored a run of the mill 10-round unanimous decision victory over no-hoper Brandon Deslaurier.
Briedis, tonight’s main event injury reserve, went in for the kill straight away. His height and ring presence forcing Deslaurier onto the back foot immediately. It was clear from his physique and array of head and body punching that Mairis had taken training as seriously as if he was fighting in the final against Usyk or Gassiev.
Every now and then ‘The Gypsy Bomber’, Deslaurier landed a single punch that, for half a second, gave Briedis something to think about, but through to round 3, there was only one man winning this fight. More of the same continued into the 5th but, Brandon looked more comfortable now, fighting off the backfoot, maybe believing, at some point, the 3rd best cruiserweight in the world would tire.
He didn’t, and even though Deslaurier proved more resilient than he looked, into round 8, Mairis donning a pretty impressive handlebar moustache, was proving two or three levels above his French foe. Deslaurier is of course not even close to the challenge that Briedis faced when he took on tonight’s WBSS finalist, Usyk, but it does make you wonder, if the Latvian had started a little more liberally, a little less jab-and-hold at times against the Ukrainian, maybe he would’ve been fighting a very different kind of fight tonight.
The 10th and final round didn’t change either fighter’s tact. The former WBC champ beat and bullied the Frenchman around the ring, but it seemed as if he was holding something back. Briedis seemed happy enough with his performance by the final bell, and after all, the result was never really in doubt. The final scorecards were all of course, in favour of Mairis.
Now, 24-1 (18KOs), there are so many great matchups to look forward to for Briedis. Whether it be Usyk or Gassiev, fellow defeated semi-finalist Yunier Dorticos, or any of the other Ring Magazine’s top 10 200lb fighters. You have to seriously go out of your way to make a bad fight at cruiserweight.
In the non-televised bouts…
– The latest in a long line of rising Ukrainian prospects, Serhii ‘El Flaco’ Bohachuk, fighting at junior middleweight, moved to 10-0 (10KOs) with a stoppage victory over Georgian, Nikolozi Gviniashvili.
– In another 154lb bout, Konstantin Ponomarev, 34-0 (13KOs) heading into the bout, tasted his first professional defeat as he dropped a split decision to fellow Russian, and now 7-0 (6KOs), Sergey Vorobiev. 94-96, 97-94, 96-94 were the final scorecards after 10 rounds.
– The early surprise on the card, middleweight, Magomed Madiev, now 11-0-1 (4KOs) fought out a 10-round split decision draw with Argentine, Guido Nicolas Pitto. Mediev was expected to take the WBA ‘Asia’ and IBF ‘International’ belts up for grabs, but the final scorecards returned as, 96-94, 94-96, 95-95.
– Former junior amateur world champion, Vladimir Shishkin moved to 7-0 (4KOs). The super middleweight stopped Russian southpaw, Gasan Gasanov in the 5th round to claim the WBA ‘Continental’ strap.
– Denis Shafikov moved to 40-4-1 (20KOs) thanks to an underwhelming 10-round unanimous decision victory over Filipino journeyman, Jhon Gemino.
WBSS Preview: Oleksandr Usyk vs. Murat Gassiev
By: Ste Rowen
Over four weeks since the 14th June, the soccer world cup has swept Russia and the globe. Overshadowing every other sporting event that dared take place on the same day, week or even months.
Somewhat ironic then that the ‘actual’ biggest sporting event in 2018 will take place six days later and 10km from the climax of the world cup when, in the World Boxing Super Series final, Oleksandr Usyk takes on Murat Gassiev for no less than the WBC, IBF, WBO, Ring Magazine, the actual (no strings, interims or regulars attached) WBA belt, as well as the Muhammad Ali trophy and, arguably most important of all, cruiserweight supremacy.
The fight was originally set to take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia but, like most fights billed for the Middle East, plans fell through weeks after Usyk was forced into postponing the original date due to a shoulder injury. It opened the door for the more logical option of Moscow to take its place.
The Olympiyskiy Arena has hosted the 1980 Olympics, the 2009 Eurovision song contest, and in September it will be the venue for the UFC’s first ever event in Russia, but on Saturday night, the arena will house an estimated 35,000 lucky, bloodthirsty boxing fans.
It’s been a long and explosive road to get to Saturday’s final in Moscow. Way back in the very first 200lb limit quarter final, on the 9th September 2017, when he only held the WBO belt, Usyk taunted and dominated Marco Huck to a 10th round stoppage.
For many, coming into the tournament the Ukrainian southpaw was the outright favourite already, but his September performance in Berlin solidified his number one status amongst a majority of fans. There was no let up from the champ that night in Germany, his movement even more demoralising for Huck than the punches he was landing, which seemed to be every time Oleksandr threw. So, when the referee eventually stepped in, with Marco still on his feet, there were little to no complaints at all.
42 days later, it was Murat’s turn to step into the ring for his quarter final. Due to IBF mandatory commitments, Gassiev had elected to fight Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, a good test for any newly crowned cruiserweight champion. The setting was the Prudential Center in Newark and it was to be a short night as, in the 3rd round, Murat landed a wonderful left hook upstairs/downstairs combination and left the Polish veteran fighting for breath, unable to rise to beat the count.
And so, onto the semi-finals, Usyk to face WBC champion, Mairis Briedis who’d earnt a 12-round decision over Mike Perez, in the only disappointing cruiserweight fight of the whole tournament. Gassiev was to take on then, WBA ‘Regular’ champion Yunier Dorticos who’d steamed through Dmitry Kudryashov in two rounds.
In the ‘WBSS Pre-Fight’ video for Saturday’s bout, Usyk said of his semi-final,
‘‘The first thing I remember is that it was a poor training camp. I could’ve done more work, I should have.’’
And there did seem to be something different about the Ukrainian that night, though many just put it down to a step up in competition. When he took on Mairis, it was the 5th time in a row the 2012 gold medallist had fought away from home (Saturday’s final will be his 6th), and though Usyk displayed the same attempts to dominant, as in his quarterfinal, this time his opponent wasn’t afraid to take punches, to land them. With the Riga crowd screaming him on, Briedis seemed to find another wind again and again, and though Usyk spent the majority of the fight as the aggressor, the Latvian timed his counter punches well enough to keep the fight close. The bout eventually went to the scorecards and was ruled a majority decision to Usyk, now the holder of the WBO and WBC.
A week on from the first semi-final, Gassiev and Dorticos fought an early frontrunner for fight of the year. Dorticos was unafraid of the Russian contingent on his back throughout the fight and started the brighter of the two, but unlike in his quarterfinal, Yunier’s 1-2’s wasn’t having the same effect on this Russian as they did against Kudryashov. As time drew on, it was clear that Murat’s early body attacks were having the lasting effect. In the championship rounds it seemed every punch ‘Iron’ threw shook up the Cuban and in the 12th Gassiev dropped Yunier once, then twice and with 17 seconds left in the fight, rifled Dorticos through the ropes and put an end to proceedings.
It was a fight that stood up alongside past greats such as Holyfield vs Qawi 1 or Haye vs Mormeck, and like the latter, Gassiev came out with two legitimate belts, as months later the WBA would rightfully upgrade the ‘Regular’ belt to the full champion strap.
‘‘Some experts predicted the final would be Gassiev vs. Usyk.’’ said Oleksandr, during his most recent training camp, ‘‘Now Murat and I will fight to be the undisputed world champion.’’
‘‘I’ve set myself on fire. I’m burning. That’s how I characterise my training camp.’’
‘‘We’re going to Moscow. I was not surprised… It doesn’t matter for me. The important thing is to fight, and I have somebody to fight.’’
Never one to give too much away before a fight, Gassiev is keeping a level-headed approach to the final,
‘‘Same as the last camps we do some different things in tactics for a southpaw and other things, nothing changes. Same running, physical exercise, sparring.’’
‘‘Toughest fight for me, for my career. He is number one in the cruiserweight division right now.’’
Ultimately, from hardcore to casual, fans want to see the best fight the best and in terms of the cruiserweights, that’s what we’re getting. For pure, unadulterated boxing, – skill, power, speed, P4P status – this upcoming WBSS final bout is arguably the best fight that can be made right now in this ridiculous sport.
Forget Wilder/Joshua, Spence/Crawford, Inoue/Tete… at least for now anyway.
Across 285 days, 8 fighters, 4 countries, and now 2 finalists.
Ukraine’s biggest vs. Russia’s best to give us an undisputed champion is what boxing, and the world, needs.
We should all be feel. Very feel.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Conwell, Bare Knuckle Fighting, Usyk, Gassiev, Munguia, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of July 10th to July 17th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Tom Hogan-Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
Usyk and Gassiev Touch Down in Moscow for Historic Final
Murat Gassiev and Aleksandr Usyk arrived Monday evening in Moscow ahead of the Cruiserweight Ali Trophy Final on July 21 at the Olympic Sports Complex.
“I am looking forward to the final. A final that will bring out the best in boxing. I can’t wait to see my fans in Moscow,” said Usyk.
Gassiev: “I’m in Russia one week before the fight. I’ve never had problems with the acclimatization. Jet-lag is also not a problem. A good nap during the flight and I’m ready to box at the airport. As always I expect a tough fight. I have to be ready for everything and adjust.”
Tickets are still available through official channels for one of the most anticipated fights of the decade, one of the most exciting boxing events in history, with 10.000 being sold up to now and 20.000 spectators expected.
“The exciting build-up for the first Ali Trophy Final ever is entering its most exciting phase,” said Kalle Sauerland, Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer. “This is the moment we have been waiting for.”
“True history and legacy making are at stake and the ‘Winner takes it all’ frase has never been more fitting. On Saturday in Moscow boxing and the world of sport will have a new, true superstar!”
The winner of Usyk-Gassiev will be the first boxer ever to win the Muhammad Ali Trophy and unify the cruiserweight titles in the four belt era.
The belts on the line will be the WBO, WBC, IBF and WBA Super and RING Magazine’s vacant cruiserweight championship strap.
The mouthwatering final will be a key event during a weekend of boxing activities in the Russian capital in celebration of International Boxing Day after Comosa were invited to bring and supervise the first final of The Greatest Prize in Boxing – The Ali Trophy – to the festival of pugilism.
Jaime Munguia and Alberto Macahdo Los Angeles Media Workout Quotes
Jaime Munguia (29-0, 25 KOs), the newly-crowned WBO Junior Middleweight World Champion of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, hosted a media workout today at the Westside Boxing Club ahead of the first defense of his title against former world champion Liam “Beefy” Smith (26-1-1, 14 KOs) in a 12-round main event Saturday, July 21 at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas. The fight will be televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Alberto “Explosivo” Machado (19-0, 16 KOs), who will put his WBA Super Featherweight World Title on the line as he faces undefeated No. 1 Contender Rafael “Sweet Pea” Mensah (31-0, 23 KOs) in the 12-round co-main event, also participated in the workout.
Here’s what Munguia and Machado had to say during today’s media workout:
JAIME MUNGUIA, WBO Junior Middleweight World Champion:
“We had a sensational training camp. We have a great team, so I feel very good. The potential fight against Gennady Golovkin really got my name out there. It allowed me to get the opportunity to fight for a world title. I’m grateful for that. I’m also grateful that the NSAC didn’t allow me to fight against Golovkin because it lead to this world title.
I’m always 100% ready. I got the call to fight Sadam Ali with only two weeks notice. The only struggle was to lose the weight, but other than that I was ready. I knew my advantage was my reach and my power. I knew that he was a smaller fighter. Those were the keys to my victory.
I feel very motivated now that I am a world champion. Everyone is going to talk about to me after this fight. This will open up more opportunities, and people will mention my name with the likes of Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.
I think that the only advantage that Liam Smith has is that he’s fought in big events before. But I have many fights under my belt. I have a lot of experience. I had over 100 fights as an amateur. All this experience gives me a lot of confidence when I step into the ring. Also, Smith might say that he’s a natural 154-pounder, but I want to tell him that I’m a natural 160-pounder who drops down. I’m very happy with the training camp we had and very confident about this fight.”
ALBERTO “EXPLOSIVO” MACHADO, WBA Super Featherweight World Champion:
“It’s been about 10 months since my last fight. But it served me well. It allowed me to get some rest and to work on some technical details I needed to work on. I had been boxing for 15 years straight, so it was a necessary rest.
Fighting on HBO for the first time was a dream come true. I used to gather with my friends to watch Miguel Cotto, Ivan Calderon and Felix Trinidad on HBO, so this was definitely a dream come true. The fight against Jezreel Corrales was very tough. At first, he didn’t event make weight. I knew he had a lot more experience than I did too. But I brought out the spirit that characterizes us a boxers to walk away with the victory.
For this camp, I worked on strategy and technique. I had more time to travel to Los Angeles and work with Freddie Roach. During this camp, I really got to see why he is a Hall of Fame trainer. I got to see why he’s had so many world champions. On July 21, you will definitely see a new and improved Alberto Machado.”
Mykquan Williams Headlines Broadway Boxing on July 21st
Following a successful weekend that saw DiBella Entertainment (DBE) spanning the globe with four impressive victories between junior welterweight star Regis Prograis and US Olympian Charles Conwell in New Orleans, female boxing sensation Raquel Miller in San Francisco and lightweight contender George Kambosos Jr. in Kuala Lumpur, DBE is on the road again bringing the Broadway Boxing series back to its home away from home at the beautiful Foxwoods Resort Casino, in Mashantucket, CT, this Saturday. Headlining the event will be East Hartford, CT’s “Marvelous” Mykquan Williams (11-0, 7 KOs) facing Matt “The Mantis” Doherty (8-4-1, 4 KOs), of Salem, MA, in an eight-round junior welterweight bout.
Only 20 years old, the all-action Williams has become a featured fighter at Foxwoods Resort Casino, with nine previous starts on-site. Managed by Jackie Kallen and trained by Paul Cichon, Williams has started his 2018 campaign in destructive fashion with two first-round knockouts, most recently stopping Orlando Felix on May 5, at Foxwoods. The 29-year-old Doherty looks for a return to victory after his four-bout winning streak was stopped in a six-round clash against highly regarded undefeated prospect Ray Moylette on March 31, in Quincy, MA.
Tickets for the stacked card, presented by Nissan of Queens, Azad Watches, OPTYX, Christos Steak House and Gagliardi Insurance, are priced at $125, $75 and $45, and can be purchased online at Foxwoods.com, Ticketmaster.com, by calling 800-200-2882, or visiting the Foxwoods box office. Foxwoods Resort Casino is located at 350 Trolley Line Boulevard, Mashantucket, Connecticut 06338. Doors will open to the Fox Theater at 6:30 p.m., with the first fight scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
The show will be broadcast on LIVE.DBE1.COM, part of the SportsLive OTT service as part of a partnership with CBS Sports Digital. Fans can subscribe to the event for $6.95 now by visiting LIVE.DBE1.COM.
Featured in an eight-round women’s featherweight contest, Providence, RI, fan favorite Shelly “Shelito’s Way” Vincent (22-1, 1 KO) battles hard-hitting Colombian Calixta Silgado (16-9-3, 11 KOs), in a rematch of their memorable clash last year, won by Vincent over eight rounds. Including the win versus Silgado, Vincent is currently riding a four-bout winning streak, started after her history-making nationally televised battle with world ranked Heather Hardy on August 21, 2016, the only loss on her ledger.
Popular fast-rising welterweight prospect Adrian Sosa (7-0, 5 KOs), of Lawrence, MA, will compete in a scheduled six-rounder. The 23-year-old Sosa returns to action following his best win in the paid ranks, a six-round decision against fellow undefeated prospect Khiry Todd on May 5, at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Sosa was a 2014 New England Golden Gloves champion and turned pro in July 2016 following an 18-2 amateur career.
Newcomer Lamont Powell (1-0), of Pawtucket, RI, will compete in a four-round middleweight bout against Charles Carroll (0-1), of The Bronx, NY. The 25-year-old Powell made his triumphant pro debut on May 5, with a shutout four-round decision against Amadeu Cristiano.
Brooklyn, NY’s Hurshidbek Normatov (6-0, 2 KOs) will square off in a six-round junior middleweight fight against fellow unbeaten prospect Alexis Gaytan (4-0, 2 KOs), of Mission, TX. A former amateur standout representing Uzbekistan, the 26-year-old Normatov won a six-round decision versus Ronald Montes on May 5, at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Promoted by DiBella Entertainment and managed by David McWater’s Split-T Management, Normatov was an experienced amateur competing in 324 bouts and winning the 2014 European National Championships. The 23-year-old Gaytan returns following a six-round decision win versus then undefeated Kendrick Ball Jr. (9-0-2), on June 2, at Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Undefeated super middleweight contender Lennox “2 Sharpe” Allen (20-0-1, 13 KOs), of Brooklyn, NY, will see action, after a three-year layoff, in a scheduled six-rounder against Willis Lockett (16-23-6, 5 KOs), of Takoma Park, MD. Allen is a former WBC CABOFE, New York State and Guyanese champion.
Co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment and Fight Promotions Inc., Uzbek heavyweight Bakhodir Jalolov (1-0, 1 KO) will return to the scene of his pro debut in a six-round bout. Born in Sariosiyo, Uzbekistan, Jalolov was a highly accomplished amateur, compiling a record of 84-13. A four-time National champion from 2013 to 2016, Jalolov represented his homeland at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, and had the distinguished honor of being the country’s flagbearer at the Opening Ceremonies. As an amateur, Jalolov won gold medals at the Asian Amateur Boxing Championships in 2017, World Cup Tournament, Liventsev Memorial Tournament, Great Silk Way Tournament, and Duisenkul Shopokov Memorial Tournament in 2015, and at the World Cup of Petroleum Countries Tournament in 2014. During his amateur career, Jalolov also focused on his education, earning a Master’s Degree in Sports Science. He now trains in Miami, FL, with the renowned Pedro Diaz and Ravshan Khodjaev.
Bridgeport, CT, native Oscar Bonilla (4-3-2) will challenge Philadelphia, PA’s Seifullah Jihad Wise (3-4, 1 KO) in a six-round junior welterweight bout.
2016 United States Olympian Charles Conwell Scores 2nd Round Stoppage
2016 U.S. Olympian Charles Conwell was impressive by stopping Travis Scott in the 2nd round of their junior middleweight bout.
Conwell came out in round by hurting Scott with a flurry of punches on the ropes. Conwell ended things with a perfect left hook to the body that sent Scott to a knee for the ten count at 1:34.
Conwell, of Cleveland, OH raises his record to 8-0 with 6 knockouts. Scott, of Baton Rouge, LA falls to 19-4.
“This win means a lot as it shows that I can not only beat good fighters with experience, but get them out of there,” said Conwell. “It also shows that I am on a whole other level then guys out there in my weight, and that I am a force to be reckoned with.”
“Charles has remarkable power for somebody his age, and he really has no ceiling. This was supposed to be his step up fight,” said Split-T Management CEO, David McWater.
Conwell is co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment and Holden Productions
World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation Up and Running
Combat sports’ newest organization, World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation (WBKFF), officially announced today that it is fully operational and targeting this October to promote its inaugural professional event, to air worldwide on independent pay per view.
WBKFF principals include CEO Tom Stankiewicz, COO & Director of Operations JC and matchmaker Paul Tyler.
The exact date of this historical event, venue, complete PPV details, and bouts will be announced during this summer.
“WBKFF will soon become the biggest, most popular in combat sports,” JC predicted. “This all started from our passion for hand-to-hand combat and to give fans what they deserve. WBKFF and fan-friendly will be synonymous. We’re going to give combat sports fans what they want and deserve: integrity, passion and fairness.”
Newly adopted rules including holding and striking, spinning backfists and hammer fists will be used in all WBKFF fights, which will be contested in a traditional boxing ring for optimum viewing and safety. All men’s and women’s matches will feature five (two-minute) rounds.
WBKFF has actively scouted and recruited battle-tested veterans and promising prospects alike from boxing, mixed martial arts, kickboxing, Muay Thai, wrestling and other combat sports disciplines.
Members of the WBKFF stable of fighters range from legendary MMA veteran and undefeated kickboxer Phil “New York Bad Ass” Baroni to Street Beats Internet and YouTube MMA sensation Chris “Mighty Mouse” Yarborough, pro-debuting Team USA national boxing champion Tika “Ice Cold” Hemingway and former University of South Alabama football star Desmond LaVelle, former UFC fighters Seth “Polish Pistola” Baczynski, Tom “Da Tank” Gallicchio and Christina Marks, former Bellator fighters Virgil “Rezdog” Zwicker and Dakota Cochrane, and former world boxing title challenger Jasmine Clarkson, among the more notables to date.
Additional signings, including some with major names in MMA and boxing, are in negotiation stages.
All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Usyk Opens as 3-1 Favorite to Defeat Murat Gassiev in WBSS Final
By: Bryant Romero
The stage is set for the Crusierweight final of the Word Boxing Super Series. Oleksandr Usyk (14-0, 11 KOs) of Ukraine will take on Murat Gassiev (26-0, 19 KOs) of Russia for all the marbles of the cruiserweight division in an unusual location for a prize fight in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on May 11. Perhaps a change in location could be in the cards since its being reported that Russia is pushing hard to land the cruiserweight final. Though it would be fair to both finalists to fight on neutral soil, especially since Usyk has already had to fight on hostile territory on two occasions in this tournament.
The 31-year-old Usyk has opened as high as a 3-1 favorite to defeat Gassiev , according to the 5dimes sportsbook. Usyk is coming off a hard fought battle against Latavia’s Mairis Briedis (23-1, 18 KOs) in a good scrap between two undefeated champions. Usyk was legitimately tested for the first time in his so far brief pro career. The Ukrainian however, was able to separate himself though as the rounds progressed, showing a superior workrate, and consistently outboxing Briedis while coming forward. It was the most competitive fight of Usyk’s pro career, but he was the rightful and clear winner earning a majority decision on the scorecards.
It’s only early February but Gassiev on the other hand was already in a fight of the year candidate with Yunier Dorticos (22-1, 21 KOs) of Cuba. In an anticipated matchup between explosive punchers, it sure lived up to the hype as Gassiev and Dorticos produced a dramatic battle at the Bolshoy Ice Dome in Alder, Russia. Dorticos started fast giving Gassiev problems with his range, long jab, and workrate. The 24-year-old Gassiev however, was able to turn the fight around after a slow start and slowly but surely started to pick apart the shaky defense of the 31-year-old Cuban. Gassiev would score 3 knockdowns in the 12th and final round forcing a stoppage and sealing the victory, while unifying the IBF and WBA titles in the process.
Gassiev seems very mature beyond his 24 years of age but he will have an uphill battle with Usyk who brings in a very extensive amateur background, pedigree, and a much different boxing style compared to Gassiev’s last two opponents. Usyk’s boxing style has given him the comparisons of being a cruiserweight Lomachenko and he should be the favorite coming into this bout. However, the confidence Gassiev will bring into the fight after unifying two titles and under the guidance of his coach Abel Sanchez who also trains Gennady Golovkin, we could be in for a dramatic battle of this cruiserweight final. May the best man win.
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).
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.
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.
Gassiev Wins by Knockout over Wlodarczyk in Newark
By: Ken Hissner
At the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, Sauerland Event and Ringstar Sports (Richard Schaefer) brought a world championship to the city Saturday night. This was part of the World Boxing Super Series.
In the Main Event IBF World Cruiserweight champion Murat “Iron” Gassiev, 25-0 (18), of Vladikavkaz, RUS/Big Bear, CA, knocked out former WBC & IBF champion Krzysztof “Diablo” Wlodarczyk, 53-4-1 (37), of Piaseczno, POL, at 1:57 of the third round.
In the opening round Gassiev came forward with a jab while Wlodarczyk rarely threw a punch. In the second round it was more of the same with Gassiev landing more punches. In the third round a pair of left hooks to the chin and then the body from Gassiev and down went Wlodarczyk as referee Earl Brown counted him out. The fans were not happy with the loser’s performance.
Super welterweight Maciej Sulecki, 26-0 (10), of Warsaw, POL, defeated former WBA World super welterweight champion ECU “Golden” Jack Culcay 22-3 (11), of Darmstadt, GER, over 10 close rounds in a WBC eliminator match. The fans were not happy with the decision.
In the first round the much taller Sulecki used his reach keeping Culcay at bay. In the second round it was Culcay forcing the action getting inside of the reach of Sulecki. An overhand right from Culcay to the chin of Sulecki drove him into the ropes just prior to the bell. In the third round both fighters took turns scoring well up until near the end of the round when a Culcay left hook rocked Sulecki.
In the fourth round both fighters mixed it up well with Culcay suffering a cut by his left eye from a chopping right hand. In the fifth round Sulecki controlled using his reach and an occasional right to the body of Culcay. Culcay centered in on body shots landing a solid right to the chin of Sulecki near the end of the round. In the sixth round it was all Sulecki using his jab and straight rights to the chin of Culcay who seemed to be taking the round off.
In the seventh round Culcay came storming out driving Sulecki across the ring into the ropes. This finally getting the fans into the fight. Culcay with hands to his side was trying to get Sulecki to open up which he did. In the eighth round Culcay kept coming forward while Sulecki countered him well to win the round.
In the ninth round Culcay forced the action but Sulecki controlled with his counter punching. In the middle of the round Culcay rallied getting inside of Sulecki’s reach. Near the end of the round Sulecki went down but referee Fields ruled it a slip. Culcay kept up the attack until the round ended. In the tenth and final round a lead right by Sulecki on the chin of Culcay drove him back several steps. Fields ruled Culcay forcing him down by the back of the head twice to the canvas but referee Culcay was looking to end it with a knockout and had Sulecki in trouble at the bell.
Judges Paige scored 98-92, Wallace 97-93 and Kenney 96-94. This writer had it 95-95.
Cruiserweight Mateusz Masternak, 40-4 (27), of Wroclaw, POL, won a lopsided stoppage over Stivens Bujaj, 16-2-1 (11), Albania/NY, at the end of the seventh round by the order of the ring physician.
In the first two rounds Masternak controlled what little action there was keeping the shorter Bujaj from getting inside. In the third round Masternak was trying his best to land chopping rights on the head of Bujaj who kept ducking low with little offense on his part. In the fourth round Masternak delivered a 3-punch combination to the head of Bujaj who seemed frustrated and not doing much of anything.
In the fifth and sixth rounds Masternak landed occasional chopping rights to the top of the ever ducking Bujaj throughout the round. In the seventh round a chopping right to the side of he head of Bujaj dropped him. He was up on unsteady legs and didn’t seem to be interested in continue up until the bell. The ring physician was brought in and stopped the match.
Welterweight Elmantas Stanionis, 4-0 (3), of Lithuania/Oxnard, CA,
Super welterweight Skender Halili, 15-2 (13), of Kosovo/Ft. Worth, TX, easily defeated Samuel Amoako, 23-16 (17) GH/Silver Spring, MD, over 6 rounds. Harvey Dock was the referee.
In the second round Halili was landing lead rights to the head of Amoako knocking him back several steps. Halili had Amoako pinned in a neutral corner when the round ended. In the third round Halili landed half a dozen unanswered punches. Amoako was completely on the defense.
In the fourth and fifth rounds Halili continued to pound to the body and head with Amoako looking to go the distance. In the sixth and final round Halili kept up the pressure but Amoako had a good chin.
All 3 judges Barnes, Layton and Taylor and this writer had it 60-54.
Super welterweight Money Powell IV, 5-0 (3), of GER/Ft. Mitchell, AL, came off the canvas in the first round to dominate southpaw Brandon Adams, 4-5-1 (2), Oakland, CA, the rest of the way winning in 6 rounds.
In the first round Adams dropped Powell with a straight left to the chin. Powell got up and took it to Adams with straight rights to the mid-section and head. In the second and third rounds Powell kept a steady jab and right to the head of Adams.
In the fourth round Powell landed a solid right to the chin of Adams spinning him completely around the landed a flurry of punches until Adams clinched. In the fifth round Adams came out throwing punches making Powell back up. Halfway through the round Powell once again took over landing straight rights to the chin of Adams. In the sixth and final round Powell countered Adams with lead rights to the chin right up until the round ended. Alan Huggins was the referee.
Judges scores were Barnes 59-55, Layton 59-56 and Taylor 58-55. This writer had it 58-55.
Heavyweight Efe Ajagba, 2-0 (2), of NIG/Houston, TX, stopped Luke Lyons, 5-1 (2), of Ashland, KY, at 2:19 of the first round.
In the first round the much taller Ajagba pounded on Lyons for half a round, before a left hook to the body dropped Lyons. Ajagba jumped on Lyons as he arose and pounded him with a flurry of punches until he went down a second time. Upon rising referee Dock wisely halted the match.
WBSS Preview: Murat Gassiev v Krzysztof Wlodarczyk
By: Ste Rowen
The final Cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series Quarterfinal between current IBF Champion, Murat Gassiev and former IBF & WBC World titlist, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk takes place this Saturday at the Prudential Center, New Jersey.
Despite the draft gala, whereby seeded fighters can choose their opponent, this bout was pre-determined as Wlodarczyk is the mandatory for Gassiev’s IBF belt.
The newly crowned IBF Champion, Murat ‘Iron’ Gassiev (24-0-0 17KOs) has had a sharp rise since his first fight in the US back in January 2015. He began working with renowned trainer Abel Sanchez in 2014, and he was kept busy as the Russian notched up three straight victories including, a scrappy but dominant affair with journeyman Terrance Smith, where Smith forced the referee into stopping the bout due to excessive holding. Then Gassiev scored stoppages over former fringe contender Felix Cora Jr in the ninth, and a second-round dismantling of Rodney Moore. His most notable fight of 2015 though came in a matchup with the then unbeaten, Isiah Thomas, when at the end of the third, Gassiev fired off two big right hands, one after the bell, and Thomas was deemed by the doctor unable to continue and the fight was called a No Contest.
Murat bounced back in devastating fashion almost five months later when he really lived up to his alias, landing an unbelievable left from the waist onto the chin of 21-0-0 at the time, Jordan Shimmell. It set up Gassiev’s biggest, and toughest fight of his career so far against fellow Russian, WBA & IBF Champion, Denis Lebedev. A combination of Lebedev’s chin and Gassiev’s power meant this bout was unlikely to disappoint. A close back and forth shootout throughout but a fifth-round knockdown via a perfect left hook body shot from Gassiev, as well as constant pressure from ‘Iron’ made the different as Murat was crowned the Cruiserweight Champion.
For some strange, incomprehensible reason that only the WBA could conjure up, Lebedev was allowed to keep hold of his WBA belt but of course, Gassiev didn’t leave empty handed from such a gruelling win. And so, the IBF strap will be on the line this weekend.
Krzysztof ‘Diablo’ Wlodarczyk (53-3-1 37Kos) is no stranger to the IBF belt now held by his Russian foe. The veteran Pole won it back in 2006 when he defeated, then unbeaten, Steve Cunningham via a debated Split Decision. He lost it however in the immediate rematch six months later. This time ‘Diablo’ was comprehensively beaten. Not for the want of trying by judge Robert Gibson though who, despite Wlodarczyk taking a ten count in round four and the other two scorecards being 112-116, 112-115, Gibson scored it a draw.
He bounced back quickly though. In the space of almost six months Wlodarczyk scored four straight wins, earning a shot at then WBC Cruiserweight World Champion, Giacobbe Fragomeni. The bout ended in a draw despite Krzysztof scoring a knockdown in the ninth, but the Pole got a second chance almost a year to the day later. ‘Diablo’ left no doubt in the rematch as he scored a TKO in round eight and became a two-time World Champion. His reign lasted for over four years and six defences until he came up against another Russian, in the form of Grigory ‘Pretty Boy’ Drozd. He was soundly beaten and down heavily on all scorecards, in a fight that included Wlodarczyk taking a knee in the eighth. Since then he’s fought and won four times against fringe contenders and earnt his path into the tournament and the chance to become a three-time World Champion.
It seems almost lazy to compare Gassiev with his gym mate, Gennady Golovkin but there are clear similarities between the two, and not just that they both train at Big Bear. He’s got a come forward, seek and destroy attitude added with his ability to cut off the ring expertly.
There’s fearsome power and accuracy in his left hand, and proved in the Lebedev fight that his chin isn’t in doubt.
For Wlodarczyk, this will be his 58th fight and 11th world title fight. He too has shown great power throughout his accomplished career. Though an over reliance in his left hand has allowed his chin to come into question more than a few times. None of the unseeded fighters in either the Cruiserweight or the Super Middleweight draw have won so far, it’s a bad omen for Krzysztof.
The winner will meet Yunier Dorticos in the semi-final of a tournament that continues to deliver.
Krzysztof Wlodarczyk Looks to Upset Murat Gassiev in Newark as WBSS Cruiserweight Tournament Hits the Prudential Center
by: Eric Lunger
The Cruiserweight division of the World Boxing Super Series comes to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Saturday night as two-time world titlist and IBF top-ranked challenger Krzysztof “Diablo” Wlodarczyk (53-3-1, 37 KOs) of Poland takes on hard-hitting IBF Champion Murat Gassiev (24-0, 17 KOs) of Russia.
Wlodarczyk, 36, fights out of Piaseczno, Poland (a suburb of Warsaw). At six-feet-one with an orthodox stance, Wlodarczyk is a straight-ahead pressure fighter, who likes to walk down his opponent with a strong jab. Wlodarczyk won the vacant IBF World Cruiserweight title in 2006, defeating American Steve Cunningham in a close split decision, but then lost the belt to Cunningham eight months later on another close set of cards. Both of those bouts took place in Poland. Wlodarczyk has fought twice in the US, both times in Chicago. At UIC Pavilion, Wlodarczyk defeated Giacobbe Fragomeni in 2013 to capture the WBC World Cruiserweight title. He surrendered that belt to Grigory Drozd in Moscow in a 12-round decision, in September of 2014.
Reached for comment while training in Poland, Wlodarczyk told boxinginsider.com (via translation by his manager) that he was excited to fight in Newark and the NYC metro area, “where I have many friends.” Wlodarczyk sees the age difference between him and Gassiev as a “coin with two sides. Murat is the youngest and I am the oldest, [but] I am the most experienced boxer in the tournament.” Asked how he planned to deal with Gassiev’s power and his high guard, Wlodarczyk was cagey, merely remarking that “my defense is usually quite good, and I hope this time will be the same.”
Having a chance, at this stage in his career, to fight in such an important tournament, with three belts and the Muhammad Ali trophy at stake, is a great honor for the Polish veteran. “It is a great pleasure, and big prestige. I am very excited.” Asked if he had a message for American boxing fans in Newark, Krzysztof replied: “I just hope they enjoy the show; I really have been training very hard last twelve weeks and I will do my best.”
The other three semi-finalists in the tournament are set, as Ukrainian WBO Champion Oleksandr Usyk stopped veteran Marco Huck in ten rounds, WBC Champion Mairis Briedis defeated Mike Perez of Cuba, and WBA Champion Yunier Dorticos knocked out Russian Dmitry Kudryashov. The winner of Wlodarczyk vs. Gassiev earns a showdown with Dorticos early next year.
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.
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.
Gassiev Outpoints Lebedev to Win IBF Cruiserweight Belt
Gassiev Outpoints Lebedev to Win IBF Cruiserweight Belt
By: Eric Lunger
Last night at the Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow, Denis Lebedev (29-2, 22 KO’s) faced fellow Russian Murat Gassiev (23-0, 17 KO’s) with Lebedev’s IBF World Title at stake.
Lebedev, currently trained by Freddie Roach, picked up the IBF belt by defeating Victor Ramirez (22-3-1, 17 KO’s) in May of this year by second round TKO. Lebedev, 37, came into the fight with two losses on his record, one to Marco Huck in 2010, a split decision loss in Germany, and one to Guillermo Jones in May of 2013, a TKO in which Lebedev took a brutal amount of punishment to his right eye. Gassiev, 23, is another on the seemingly inexhaustible list of Eastern European/Russian fighters gravitating to Big Bear, CA, and Abel Sanchez’s Summit Gym. In May of this year, on PBC, Gassiev scored a scary first round knockout against Jordan Shimmell (20-2, 16 KO’s). While Abel Sanchez has compared Gassiev to training partner and friend Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, the Lebedev fight was new territory for the young prospect. It was both a homecoming to Russia and a big stage against an experienced and dangerous southpaw, who has been in the trenches a long time. It also presented an interesting stylistic clash, with the 6’ 3” Gassiev employing a classical orthodox style and working behind a straight jab. Lebedev, on the other hand, is a 5’ 11” southpaw who will throw a lead left while circling to his left. His defensive fundamentals are solid, and he is very comfortable countering off the back foot.
Given the power of both fighters, no one expected a reckless brawl, and indeed, the bout proved to be twelve rounds of tactical boxing. Both fighters stuck closely to their game plan: for Lebedev, to let the taller Gassiev come forward into the left hand counter; for Gassiev, to walk Lebedev down while using his jab to set up the power straight right. I saw the early rounds as fairly even and difficult to score. Gassiev holds a high guard, which accentuated the height advantage. Lebedev was surprisingly versatile: he could jab effectively to disrupt Gassiev as he came in, and he also effectively countered Gassiev, often beating him to the punch with a shockingly fast lead left. Lebedev’s movement was also remarkable. Ducking and slipping under Gassiev’s right, Lebedev was smooth and poised on his feet, even elegant at times.
Nonetheless, the challenger’s activity and varied attack, especially in the fourth, put him ahead, in my view, but the rounds were very close. Gassiev was always coming forward and always jabbing, while Lebedev was countering and fighting off the back foot. It is natural, in such a fight, to assume that the walking-forward fighter is winning the round. I think we saw this phenomenon in the Kovalev-Ward fight as well. That said, I had Gassiev up three rounds to one, after the fourth. In the fifth, the challenger caught Lebedev with a stunning, flush left hook to the liver, scoring an immediate knock down. The champion recovered quickly and thereafter kept his elbows close to his body, not wanting Gassiev to score there again.
Despite his continued aggressiveness, Gassiev was not able to break down Lebedev’s defense in any meaningful way during the middle rounds of the fight, but neither did Lebedev ever put Gassiev in much trouble. I felt the later rounds of the fight, however, should have gone to the champion. The young challenger started to lose steam, with Lebedev deciding to walk through a lot of shots to score his own combinations. Abel Sanchez could be heard in the corner after round ten, essentially telling Gassiev to move after throwing and not let Lebedev score so easily. In the eleventh and twelfth, Gassiev still came forward but could not cut off the ring, allowing Lebedev to score against a target that was consistently right in front of him.
At the final bell, Gassiev did not have the expression or body language of a fighter who thought he had won. It took an inordinate amount of time to get the score cards, but the challenger squeaked out the win by split decision (113-114, 116-112, 116-111). A very tough fight to score, and I can see two of those cards as reasonable, but the five-point spread was too wide. In a bout this close, that one liver shot in the fifth was probably the difference. Denis Lebedev fought a brave, smart and gutsy twelve rounds, but he lost his belt on one defensive lapse.