Oleksandr Usyk to Face Luiz Ortiz or Alexander Povetkin?
By: Waqas Ali
Oleksandr Usyk could be on the verge of stepping into the heavyweight division and facing either Cuban beast Luiz Ortiz or Russian Alexander Povetkin.
Usyk boasts a record of 16 victories and is the undisputed cruiserweight champion – holding the WBO, WBA, WBC, IBF and the Ring Magazine titles simultaneously.
Without a doubt Usyk is one of the best talent in boxing today and brings a variety of skills, styles and techniques that really cluster the meat of his talent.
According to Michael Benson via Fight News, Usyk’s promoter Alex Krassyuk stated that there is a “70% chance” of making a matchup against Povetkin or Ortiz.
Krassyuk also said that fighters such as Jarrell Miller and Joseph Parker turned down the option of fighting Usyk.
However, according to Parkers’ promoter David Higgns, he denied any rejection of Usyk and that they did not receive any communication from the Usyk camp.
Interesting to note the fact that when Dillian Whyte was asked about future opponents he would like to face, he did not mention Usyk.
“There’s five possible fighters [Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, Jarrell Miller, Dominic Breazeale and Deontay Wilder] out there for me,” Whyte said to IFL TV.
When asked about Usyk specifically, he dismissed him as a potential opponent.
“He’s a good fighter, but no one knows who he is,” Whyte said.
“He speaks no English. What I’m saying is he’s not really a big fight for me. The hardcore boxing fans will watch it [Whyte vs. Usyk], but imagine trying to sell Usyk-Dillian Whyte to the general public.”
One theory of this dismissal could be the fact that Whyte (25W, 18KOs -1L) is looking for the rematch against Anthony Joshua who is the unified heavyweight champion.
But in particular Ortiz and Povetkin are the main head-to-heads for Usyk, should his camp announce his debut at heavyweight and pick one of them.
But what does each fighter bring to the table?
Povetkin, 39, has a record of 34 wins (24 KOs) and two losses. In his last ten bouts, he won eight and six of them were by stoppages. His height is at 6 foot 2 inches and a reach of 75 inches.
Though Usyk would gain advantage since his height is 6 foot 3 with a 78 inch reach.
Povetkin is a conventional fighter and does have effective that could the smaller Usyk problems. Both are Olympic Gold medal winners from their countries of Russia and Ukraine. It would sell well in either countries or even in the United States.
Ortiz, 39, also boasts a record of 30 wins, 26 by KO, one loss and two no contests. His knockout ratio stands at 79%.
In his last ten bouts, he’s won nine, eight by KO and only one decision. His reach is similar to Usyks of 78”. This would mean that the range and distance could be of an interesting contest.
He has exceptional punching power and the ratio figure speaks for itself. Lacks the footwork but can break the range every now and when it comes throwing the overhand right hes follows it up with the right.
The Cuban is also a southpaw and majority of Usyks opponents are orthodox. This would put Ortiz in the lead due to the fact that Usyk has not fought any competitive southpaws.
According to a poll conducted by @boxingroyalty1, out of over 1600 plus voters 50% picked Povetkin to fight Usyk and 38% chose Ortiz.
— Boxing Royalty (@boxingroyalty1) January 6, 2019
One thing about Usyk is his punches are sweet but sour to taste.
Based on the styles and variations of each fighter I would say that on a selling point it would be with Povetkin because a Russian and a Ukrainian could gather a mega crowd in their home lands. They would make more money than opposed to having Ortiz travelling to foreign lands to sell. It’s an unfortunate reality but I suspect that even Ortiz will acknowledge this. Boxing today is more to do with stage than skills. Like quality over quantity.
From a stylistic point of view, I believe Ortiz is the stronger and powerful one of the two. Just as I mentioned in the analysis, his knockout ration is high and he has more weapons to fire than Povetkin has. For someone who comes in at 240 plus on fight night could be a problem for Usyk. We saw what happened in the Bellew fight. He was countered multiple times. The comprehension of taking those punches at heavyweight against someone like Ortiz would be devastating.
With regards to Whyte turning down Usyk, as I mentioned in the analysis, Whyte in his mind shouldn’t fight Usyk because he realises that he has more chance of losing to him and therefore it will cost him his chance of rematching with Joshua again. Of course from a hardcore boxing fans’ point view it is preposterous to even deny him a fight. The fact that Usyk can’t speak English is irrelevant. Saul Alvarez can’t speak English yet he’s the most paid boxer and the biggest name in boxing today. Whyte said that the bout wouldn’t sell. No doubt it probably make as much money as it would a second fight with AJ but at least fight could elevate Whyte back in the main elites. Usyk fought Bellew at the Manchester Arena. A venue with a capacity of over 20,000 and the viewership for that was over 600,000. Whatever the case maybe, I recognise the reasoning’s for Whyte’s reasoning on declining Usyk.
2018 Fighter of the Year: Oleksandr Usyk
By: Jake Donovan
For the past 30 years, there has been no debate that Evander Holyfield is the greatest cruiserweight of all time.
That was until Oleksandr Usyk wrapped up his 2018 in-ring campaign.
The 31-year old southpaw from Ukraine hasn’t enjoyed the benefit of fighting at home since his final fight as a contender in Dec. ‘15. Each of his last eight starts have taken place on the road, all but one being staged in the home country of his opponent beginning with his title-lifting effort over then-unbeaten champ Krzysztof Glowacki in Sept. ’16 in Poland.
Fighting on the road is hardly a new experience for the gifted cruiserweight, who spent a healthy portion of his 350-fight amateur career away from his native Ukraine. Included among the lot were two Olympic tours, advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and capturing a Gold medal during the 2012 London festivities.
It’s only fitting that every championship he’s won as a pro has come against the backdrop of a partisan crowd.
In 2018, Usyk (16-0, 12KOs) entered the lion’s den three times—twice in unification bouts and wrapping up the year with a defense versus a former champ, all taking place in sold-out arenas in packed with his opponent’s fans rooting hard for a hometown win.
His journey began with a trip to Riga, Latvia last January to face then-unbeaten titlist and local hero Mairis Briedis. It was already his third time facing an undefeated opponent in their home country, as he was the first to beat Glowacki (in Poland) and American contender Michael Hunter in the United States.
In Briedis, Usyk would receive his stiffest test as a pro, certainly a far more difficult challenge than having stopped former titlist Marco Huck in Germany the prior September in the opening round of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament.
The first five rounds were anything but a clear-cut indicator that Usyk would even win, much less go on to enjoy a Fighter of the Year-worthy campaign. He first had to adapt to the brisk pace forced by the house favorite, then contend with a clash of heads in the 5th round which left him briefly wobbled and with reddening around his left eye.
It ultimately served as a wake-up call.
Usyk took over the fight once the second half began, his second-to-none conditioning carrying him to victory. Save for a minor scare in round nine and a final round last-ditch rally by Briedis, the second half surge was enough for the visiting Ukrainian to advance to the WBSS finals.
That led to his twice traveling to Russia: first to take in the other semifinals bout between Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos one week later; then in July, for his finals meet with Gassiev in a bout that would leave the winner as the first truly undisputed cruiserweight champion in the four-belt era.
As it turned out, the hardest part in making history was getting to fight night. The unification clash itself was delayed by more than two months due to Usyk requiring elbow surgery, thus killing plans for a May clash in Saudi Arabia. The postponement worked out in Gassiev’s favor, in that the fight was relocated to his native Russia.
Home country advantage was the only edge he’d enjoy that night.
Usyk quickly took the crowd out of the equation, somehow reducing an undisputed cruiserweight championship contest into a one-sided sparring session in pitching a virtual shutout. Even before the final decision was announced, the immediate question was what the newly crowned World cruiserweight king would do for an encore.
The answer? A third road trip on the year, of course.
For months, the idea was floated of Tony Bellew challenging the WBSS winner—particularly if it was Usyk, who even entered a co-promotional pact with the Brit’s promoter Eddie Hearn. The union led to the finalization of plans for a November 11 clash in what would be a sold-out Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.
Even if Usyk opted to sit out the rest of 2018 following his win over Gassiev, he’d still serve as a leading Fighter of the Year contender. For much of the first half of his clash with Bellew, the risk of a third fight in an optional defense seemed to outweigh the reward.
That was, until the defending champ was ready to take over.
Once again displaying his superior ring smarts and conditioning, Usyk overcame a rocky start—and surprising scorecard deficit—to emphatically knock out Bellew in round eight. A textbook left hand landed flush, putting the former cruiserweight titlist down and out, a knockout loser in what would be the final fight of his celebrated career.
As for Usyk, it was merely the final moment of an unrivaled 2018 in-ring campaign. He entered the year at least a distant second in discussions of the best active cruiserweight of all time (Holyfield) and the best active boxer from Ukraine (Vasiliy Lomachenko).
Answers that were once foregone conclusions now warrant considerable discussion. Everything about the year that was for Usyk changed that mindset—while fittingly also ending any debate as to whether anyone else deserved the honor of being named the BoxingInsider.com 2018 Fighter of the Year.
Somebody’s 0 Has Got to Go: The Top Three Fights Fans Want to See
By: Oliver McManus
“Somebody’s 0 has got to go”, it’s possibly the most used phrase in modern boxing. Mind you, if David Diamante has his way it will soon become “let’s nix a nil” but the premise remains the same, two unbeaten fighters putting their records on the line in, hopefully, guts-and-glory encounters.
Don’t get me wrong, a loss doesn’t make you a bad fighter and beating an unbeaten man doesn’t, equally, make you a star player in the sport. As we’ve seen recently there have been a fair few damp squibs when it comes to unbeaten vs unbeaten – Andrade vs Kautondokwa, anyone?
Nonetheless there are plenty of mouth-watering fights in prospect and these are three fights I want to see, at world level, where someone’s 0 has got to go…
Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk – Heavyweight
Where better place to kick off than in the heavyweight division? Anthony Joshua has had things pretty much his own way at the top of the game since winning his first world title – sanctioned by the IBF- in 2016. Since that capitulation of Charles Martin, Joshua has fought in six world title bouts and added the WBA, WBO and IBO straps to his collection.
With a touted fight against Deontay Wilder falling by the wayside – take whoever’s side you want on that thorny issue – Joshua is next out on April 13th, at Wembley, with an opponent yet to be scheduled in.
But I’ll be honest, the tag of undisputed aside, I’d much rather see AJ in with the man who holds all of the cruiserweight belts and, arguably, one of the best in the world pound for pound. Usyk seems to me, and many others, the toughest challenge that Joshua can face.
Technically he is sublime and he possesses the heavyweight power required to take Joshua into deep water but, let’s not forget, Usyk has amateur pedigree in the heavier division so it’s not like he’s inexperienced at the weight. Even having said that experience wouldn’t be an issue for someone of such natural quality as Usyk for his fight IQ and ring-ability transcends weight classes.
Coming off the back of a breezy fight against Tony Bellew in which, if we’re honest, he never looked out of control the natural step is for Usyk to go up to heavyweight. Joshua, we know, is searching for “legacy defining” fights and a bout against Oleksandr Usyk is about as big as they come.
The fight seems the most realistic, out of all the big heavyweight contests, with Eddie Hearn taking an active involvement in the promotion of the Ukrainian powerhouse so, fingers crossed, we could see a blockbuster event next year.
Winner of Errol Spence Jnr and Mikey Garcia vs Terence Crawford – Welterweight
Announced last week is the fight that, if we’re honest, made no real sense. Mikey Garcia was the man we all wanted to see fight Vasyl Lomachenko and Errol Spence was the champion looking to unify with Terrence Crawford.
The IBF Welterweight title will be on line come March 16th with Garcia looking to become a five weight champion in his 40th fight. A frighteningly skilled boxer, the California native has continually proved his credentials with a frightening knockout power.
In his last three fights Garcia has been extended the distance but has boxed with class throughout the 36 rounds, controlling the pace of the fight and manouvering his way out of danger with a comprehensive ease.
Errol Spence Jnr goes into the bout with an obvious weight advantage – fighting 12lbs heavier than the division in which Garcia actively holds a world title. 2 years the younger man, Spence burst onto the scene in 2016 with knockout victories over Chris Algieri and Leonard Bundu.
Having captured the IBF crown with a ferocious victory against Kell Brook, in Sheffield, the Texas-man has defended the belt twice in equally terrifying fashion. A non-stop work rate with continual punch output, if you let the champion unfurl his hands then you’re going to be in trouble.
And whilst the question of weight will loom over the bout until fight night, Garcia is a consummate professional and an outstanding athlete. For a man trying to prove his ability in the welterweight division, there could be no better way to silence the critics than claiming a world title in your first fight so that’s where Terence Crawford comes into play.
Errol Spence is the man that people wanted to see in a unification class with Bud, they would produce a scintillating fight. If Mikey Garcia is able to overcome such a challenge then he will have instantaneously justified getting a fight with the WBO champion.
All roads lead to unification, or so they… bring it on!
Artur Beterbiev vs Dmitry Bivol – Light Heavyweight
We’ll deal with the younger boxer first in Dmitry Bivol who ticked over towards the back of 2014 with a Bronze Medal at the 2008 Youth World Championships and a Gold Medal at the 2013 World Combat Games. A two time Russian national champion with a record of 268-15, his amateur pedigree was impressive but paled in comparison to his counterpart.
As a professional, though, the 27 year old really turned up the heat by claiming the first, major, belt of his career in just his fifth fight. The knockout power we all enjoy was evident from the first second of his debut but, with that, he’d find opponents looking to hold and just survive through the early phases. Not that that mattered, Bivol has always found ways of punishing his opponent.
Even when he has been stretched the distance – three times in 14 fights – the Kyrgyzstan-born man has always looked in complete control with an array of power punches as well as technical skill. Of course we’ll all remember his fierce one-punch knockout over, admittedly over-matched, Trent Broadhurst that saw Bivol claimed champion.
Successful defences against Sullivan Barrera and Isaac Chilemba have followed – he next fights Jean Pascal on the 24th – but surely the Russian will be eying up the options for unification come the turn of the year.
Beterbiev, on the other hand, turned pro in the middle of 2013 and initially built up a strong following in Canada – the elite amateur (World Champion & runner up, two-time European champion) had moved to Montreal in order to purse his professional ambitions.
At 5 and 0 he stepped up to face Tavoris Cloud – a former IBF champion – and dealt with the threat of the American, coming off a world title loss, in convincing fashion. The momentum from this bout seemed to follow as Beterbiev looked to fight better opponents at every opportunity possible.
A refreshing attitude of “fight who’s in front of me and knock them out” has ensured success with all thirteen of his wins coming via an early stoppage. A grizzly fighter, that’s the best way to describe it, Beterbiev never looks the fastest of opponents but, boy, does he have vicious punch power.
Typically standing with his hands at shoulder level, the 33 year old stands ready to pounce and is mature enough not to go out all-guns-blazing. The IBF champion won his title against Enrico Koelling last November and, in a fight that ended in the 12th, boxed patiently and calmly to do so.
Two unbeaten Russian powerhouses, slugging it out to unify light heavyweight world titles… what more could you ask for?
DAZN Boxing Preview: Usyk vs. Bellew, Crolla vs. Yordan
By: Oliver McManus
This Saturday witnesses a monumental moment in boxing as the Manchester Arena plays fiddle to Oleksandr Usyk’s “all-the-belt’s” defence against Tony Bellew who seeks to do the unthinkable and claim one of the biggest upsets in memory. Join DAZN free for 30 days and live-stream fight night anywhere!
Bellew, who has repeatedly upset the odds, will look to produce the performance of a life-time against the undefeated, undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world but does so in front of 20,000 partisan fans.
Photo Credit: DAZN USA Twitter Account
Having recently defeated David Haye across two ill-tempered bouts there was speculation that Bellew was set for a three fight cash-out at heavyweight but the chance of history came a calling.
Make no mistake, the odds are stacked against Bellew and few outside of the inner circle believe there is a realistic chance of an upset. For Bellew to come triumphant he will need to impose a disruptive game-plan that nips Usyk’s technical superiority in the bud before the Ukrainian can really get into the swing of things.
For want of a better word Bellew will need to bully the undisputed champion, stand square in the centre of the ring and just throw everything and the kitchen sink – what’s he got to lose? Precisely nothing, there is nothing to lose for the home fighter, no-one expects him to win.
Let’s turn attention to the main man, then – an amateur who claimed glory at every turn and has looked flawless since turning professional. People will say that Bellew’s best chance is to land a flush punch but Usyk has taken shots from Murat Gassiev and Mairis Briedis as though they were tickling him.
Technically outstanding, Usyk is one of the most well-rounded boxers who, whilst capable of brawling and throwing fire, can make even the closest challengers look average. Gassiev, for many, was the toughest test for Usyk and he absolutely walked through the Russian contender.
The agility of, countryman, Vasyl Lomachenko and the power of, say, Anthony Joshua, Usyk is sublime in everything he does. Harsh as it sounds, heart won’t win you fights against boxers of such calibre, it takes a different level to be able to mix it with Oleksandr Usyk.
The fairytale ending would have Bellew winning – the real life Rocky story – but Usyk has seen and conquered every challenge that has preceded Bellew. Logic suggests he takes this in his stride and his continues on his quest as one of the greatest, purest, fighters of all time.
Anthony Crolla fights in the co-main event with the Manchester-man looking to become mandatory challenger to, WBA champion, Vasyl Lomachenko. Standing in the way of that status stands Daud Yordan – a 31 year old who formerly challenged for the featherweight world title.
Crolla, himself a former WBA belt-holder, has bounced back from his two losses to Jorge Linares with a bruising win against Ricky Burns last October and a comfortable 10 round points win over Edson Ramirez in March of this year. Against Yordan, Crolla steps into the mild unknown with the Indonesian not being the most “known” opponent.
A man with 26 KOs from 38 victories and losses coming only to world champions or challengers – Celestino Caballero, Chris John and Simpiwe Vetyeka – the 31 year old is a classy operator with a vicious punch. Yordan has a tendency to open up as the rounds progress allowing himself the opportunity to launch sterling counter attacks but, in doing so, finds himself susceptible to walking onto a punch.
Eight wins on the trot since moving up to lightweight, skipping super-feather completely, the heavy weight division has seen Yordan gain considerable success and, despite his aging years, he’s looked serene and youthful in the ring, as of late.
Million Dollar is at a point in his career where he wants to be taking big fights only and Yordan is a sensible stepping stone in that direction. Across his career we’ve seen Crolla’s class with endless heart being shown in the 12 years since he turned pro.
Typically targeting the body of his opponents, you only have to look at his knockouts against Darleys Perez and Ismael Barroso for picture-perfect displays of the constant threat he poses. In a ram-packed 135lb division that bustles with domestic talent Crolla will be looking to prove he’s still a step better than the young crop with a peerless display on Saturday.
The winner becomes mandatory challenger to Vasyl Lomachenko in what would be a legacy-defining bout but, before all that can even be dreamt about, someone needs to rise to the occasion and seize their opportunity – Crolla will be favourite but Yordan’s not going to make it easy.
Saturday night witnesses one of the biggest fights in British boxing history – whether you like that or not – with “that fat scouser” putting it all on the line for one shot at ultimate glory. We’re going to see plenty of grit from the Brit as he seeks to produce a seismic shock but with Bellew you simply never know what’s going to happen.
Get some popcorn at the ready because it’s going to be a blockbuster!
Bellew to Face Usyk in Cruiserweight Showdown
By: Michael Kane
The big fights keep on coming for UK boxing fans.
Tony Bellew has moved back down to cruiserweight and will face undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, all of Usyk’s belts will be up for grab, the WBO, WBC, IBF as well as the Ring magazine belt.
The fight is to take place at Manchester Arena on November 10th.
Bellew, who was the WBC cruiserweight champion, is looking to end his career off in some style, with reports this is to be his last fight. The 35 year old moved up to heavyweight to face David Haye twice and stopped Haye for the second time in March this year.
Bellew told BBC Radio 5 Live, “He’ll see someone that will never give in, ever. He is one of the most feared men in boxing. This is the ultimate test for me.”
He added: “I’m taking this with my eyes wide open, I know I’m facing the best cruiserweight in the world, the best since Evander Holyfield in my opinion, an amazing fighter who can do everything and I’m happy to go in there against him and once again prove the whole world wrong. He’s a monster they all say I can’t beat but it’s not my first time at the rodeo. I’ve heard it all before. Let’s just see if he can answer all the questions I’ve had to answer throughout my career.
“Can he get off the floor? Can he come back from a nasty cut? Can he fight through bad injuries? Can he come from behind on the scorecards? Can he provide a one-punch knockout when it’s needed? All these questions I’ve answered on umpteen occasions.
“What I can promise is I will not be in awe of this man. I will not allow him to rattle five-, six-, seven-punch combinations. He will see someone that will never give in, ever. I’ve fought people far quicker, far more powerful. What I haven’t fought is someone who puts all the things together as good as he does. He can’t show me something I haven’t seen before.
“The world says I can’t beat him, can I outbox him? Probably not. Can I chin him? Absolutely. I’m the quickest cruiserweight he has ever fought and when I hit him he’s going to know I am the hardest cruiserweight he has ever fought.
“There ain’t a man I’ve ever shared a ring with who hasn’t felt the same thing ‘how in God’s name has that skinny fat freak just hit me so hard’. And he’s going to feel the same.”
Usyk, 31, become the first man to hold all four cruiserweight titles after winning them as part of World Boxing Super Series, Usyk entered the competition with the WBO then added the rest by beating Mairis Breidis in the semi final for the WBC and then added the IBF and WBA crowns by beating Murat Gassiev in the final.
Usyk, said to Sky Sports, “ I’ve been preparing for this fight for a long time and i’m delighted that we’ve got the venue and the date finalised. I cannot wait to fight in the UK.”
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: Usyk Defeats Briedis
By: Ste Rowen
Wins for Usyk, Hrgovic and Otto Wallin, top a great night for former amateur standouts.
Olesksandr Usyk has taken one step closer to Cruiserweight supremacy after outworking the now former WBC champion, Mairis Briedis, to a unanimous 12-round decision.
The early rounds saw Bridies press as Usyk stood off, countering when it mattered. The Latvian made it uncomfortable for Usyk through four.
As the rounds progressed though, Usyk began to dominate behind his jab and his championship experience began to show.
The final round saw Briedis go all out as if he knew it was all or nothing, but Usyk kept his distance, and the Ukrainian did enough to keep the Latvian at bay.
The final score cards were, 114-114, 115-113, 115-113 for Usyk.
Speaking post-fight, Usyk said,
‘These were the most difficult 12-rounds I’ve had in my career.
On his possible finalist, Usyk said,
‘I will be watching this fight, and I wish the strongest man wins.’
He will now face either IBF champion, Murat Gassiev or WBA ‘Regular’ champion, Yunier Dorticos in the WBSS final in May.
On the undercard, highly rated, 2016 bronze medallist, Filip Hrgovic of Croatia, moved to 3-0 after scoring a TKO victory over Tom Little in the 4th round. Much like his fellow Super Heavyweight Rio Olympians, Tony Yoka and Jo Joyce; Hrgovic is being quickly accelerated through the heavyweight rankings and a stoppage victory over Tom Little, in just his third fight, underlines that point.
His victory tonight follows 1st round knockouts over heavyweight gatekeeper, Raphael Zumbano Love and 6-0, Pavel Sour.
Swedish southpaw, Otto Wallin moved to 19-0 (13 KOs) after taking out 6-5, Srdan Govedarica in the 3rd round with a body shot. After fighting just once in 2017 with a 5th round stoppage of 12-4 at the time, Gianluca Mendras; heavyweight Otto will be hoping to continue the steady progress he was making back in 2016, a year topped by his shutout points victory over the aforementioned, Zumbano Love. A showdown with fellow countryman Adrian Granat awaits later this year.
WBSS Preview: Oleksandr Usyk v Mairis Briedis
By: Ste Rowen
The World Boxing Super Series gets back underway on the 27th January as Latvia holds host to the first semi-final between WBC champion Mairis Briedis, 23-0 (18KOs) and WBO champion Olesksandr Usyk 13-0 (11KOs).
It will be Riga-born Mairis Briedis’ second consecutive fight in his home city after he dominated Mike Perez to a unanimous decision in his quarter final back in September.
Despite the awkward way the Perez fight played out, speaking at the first face-off between the two fighters, Briedis seemed confident that the bout would match up with the raucous atmosphere expected in Arena Riga,
‘It is one of my dreams as a fighter to be part of one of the greatest fights of all time. I hope this fight will be a hall of fame fight. It has all the ingredients to become a classic.’
On the raised stakes with each fight he’s a part of, Mairis replied,
‘I don’t think of anything outside of boxing so right now I’m doing my job… When the fight is done we will talk about other stuff that is not pure boxing.’
The enigmatic Usyk was in confident mood as always. It will be the Ukrainian’s 5th consecutive fight away from his home country and his 4th title defence since defeating then unbeaten Krzysztof Glowacki in Poland back in 2016.
‘There wasn’t an arena suitable to host this event in Ukraine but that’s not a problem… This is a unification bout; two world champions are facing each other so it doesn’t matter where the fight is taking place, it could even be on the moon. The most important thing is what’s happening in the ring.’
Asked about his travelling support, the WBO champion said,
‘Who knows? There is definitely interest in Ukraine and there is always fans when I am fighting abroad… 50/50 split.’
The 2012 Olympic gold medallist progressed to the semi-finals courtesy of a 10th round stoppage of Marco Huck. It was a particularly impressive victory coming off the back of two laboured wins over American, Michael Hunter and fellow southpaw, Thabiso Mchunu.
The second semi-final between Murat ‘Iron’ Gassiev and Yunier ‘The KO Doctor’ Dorticos takes place in Sochi, Russia a week later. All four remaining fighters go into the semi-finals unbeaten with a combined record of 83-0 (68KOs).
Reminder: If any of the fights are scored a draw across the three judges, a fourth judge will be called into play to settle who progresses to the much anticipated final, set to take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in May this year.
Five Fighters to Watch in 2018
By: Eric Lunger
As the final wrapping paper gets cleaned up from under the tree, and as we collectively vow – in varying degrees of enthusiasm and conviction — to get back to sensible eating and exercise, it’s time to take a glance ahead at the upcoming year in boxing, and count down the top five fighters to keep an eye on. This is a pretty eclectic list, and no doubt you have your own picks; I’d love to read which boxers you are watching for 2018 in the comments below.
Photo Credit: WBSS
Joseph Parker (Heavyweight). The Kiwi WBO champion had a great 2017, defending his newly-won belt twice. In May, he took care of business against Razvan Cojanu, a late-minute replacement in a not-so spectacular bout, but in September, Parker traveled to Manchester, UK, to take on the talented contender Hughie Fury. Parker (24-0, 18 KOs) answered a lot of questions that night, and won over some critics. Still, there are some commentators who feel that Parker is the odd man out in the top tier of the division, that he doesn’t really belong in the same rarified air as Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, and Tyson Fury. But with his power, his hand speed, and most importantly, his meteoric learning curve each and every outing, Parker can be a real spoiler in the division. Will he get a shot at AJ in 2018? That is tough to envision, given Team Joshua’s current aversion to risk, but as the WBO Champion, unification of the belts has to go through Parker at some point.
Oleksandr Usyk (Cruiserweight). Usyk (13-0, 11 KOs) fought on the same Olympic team as Vasyl Lomachenko, training with Lomachenko’s father, and it shows in Usyk’s footwork and use of angles. Already WBO world champion, the Ukrainian southpaw is in the semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series Cruiserweight tournament, slated to take on undefeated WBC champion Mairis Breidis in Riga, Latvia, on January 27. Supremely confident, Usyk is one of those few European amateurs who understands that the professional game is about more than just scoring points; a fighter needs to be exciting to watch if he wants to build his fan base. With knockout artist Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos in the other semi-final in February, the WBSS tournament is exciting and dynamic, and Usyk has to be the favorite to unify all the belts and lift the Muhammad Ali Trophy.
Javier Fortuna (Lightweight) A southpaw from the Dominican Republic and former WBA World champion at junior lightweight, Fortuna (33-1-1, 23 KOs) has an important title shot this coming January against undefeated IBF lightweight champion Robert Easter, Jr. Fortuna is an underdog in this fight, to be sure, but the matchup will be competitive and entertaining. The Dominican standout is a risk-taker, and he can get caught. But he is also brilliant to watch, especially when he makes intuitive adjustments in the ring or decides to ramp up the performance aspect of his game. This will be no easy tune-up for Easter, and Fortuna should not be overlooked as a potential upset of the year.
Danny Garcia (Welterweight). Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) has always been one of my favorite fighters. A guy with deep Philly roots, he’s had tough battles with the likes of Amir Khan, Zab Judah, Lucas Matthysse, Paulie Malignaggi, and Keith Thurman. Danny is an accurate counterpuncher whose risky style is based on one of the most dominant left hooks in the game. The split decision loss to Thurman last March had to be a bitter pill for the proud Garcia to swallow. How does a fighter who has accomplished so much in the sport find the motivation to rebound from a loss like that? We will find out where Garcia is mentally and physically this February 17 as he takes on Brandon Rios (34-3, 25 KOs) in a twelve-round welterweight clash.
Vasyl Lomachenko (Junior Lightweight). Obviously, the slick Ukrainian southpaw is on top of the boxing world right now, and is a factor in everyone’s pound-for-pound discussion, but the real unknown for Lomachenko in 2018 is: whom should he fight next? Who will give him a challenge? Who will draw a big audience? Miguel Berchelt (32-1 28 KOs), who holds the WBC belt, seems like the logical next opponent for “HiTech,” but a case can certainly be made for Francisco Vargas (24-1-2, 17 KOs) or even Gervonta Davis (19-0, 18 KOs). There has also been significant social media chatter about Lomachenko moving up to 135 to fight Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs), and what a fight that would be. Unfortunately, for now, Garcia has moved to junior welterweight to face Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) for the IBF title. Regardless, Lomachenko remains a fighter to watch in 2018.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Seldin, Usyk, Briedis, Estrada, Shields, Rungvisai, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of December 5th to December 12th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Star Boxing/Nick Sideris
Cletus “The Hebrew Hammer” Seldin Returns to HBO in Back to Back Months Usyk-Briedis Semi-Final Tickets for WBSS on Sale
Tickets for the Ali Trophy semi-final bout in the cruiserweight edition of the World Boxing Super Series between WBO World Champion Aleksandr Usyk (13-0, 11 KOs) and WBC World Champion Mairis Briedis (23-0, 18 KOs) are on sale now via bilesuserviss.lv with prices starting at €50.
This biggest Cruiserweight unification fight for several years, takes place at the Arena Riga in Latvia on 27 January 2018.
Ukrainian Usyk has promised a night to remember for boxing fans at the arena and around the world: “Fans at the arena and in front of their TV’s can look forward to a beautiful and interesting battle between two world champions.”
Said Briedis: “I can’t wait to hear the noise of the devoted Latvian fans again. I will prepare myself over the next weeks to give them a show against Usyk.”
Tickets for Usyk vs Briedis start at €50 and are on sale now via bilesuserviss.lv
Women’s Boxing Superstar Claressa Shields to Hold Public Media Workout
WBC and IBF Super middleweight World Champion Claressa “T-Rex” Shields (4-0, 2 KOs) to defend titles against former world champion and undefeated mandatory challenger Tori Nelson (17-0-3, 2 KOs) on Friday, January 12, in the main event of ShoBox: The New Generation live at 10 p.m. ET/PT from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY; Presented by Salita Promotions
Shields, her trainers, and Salita Promotions’ founder, Dmitriy Salita, will be available for photographs and interviews.
Tuesday, December 12 – OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
12:00 p.m. ET – Media Arrival
12:15 p.m. ET – Workout Begins
Kronk Boxing Community Center
9520 Mettetal St,
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Juan Francisco Estrada Set for February 24th Live on HBO
Following the overwhelming success from the first SUPERFLY event this past September, Tom Loeffler’s 360 Promotions in association with Nakornluong Promotions and Zanfer Promotions is proud to announce the highly anticipated second installment, SUPERFLY 2, set for Saturday, February 24 at the Forum in Los Angeles, CA televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT.
SUPERFLY 2 will be headlined by WBC Super Flyweight World Champion SRISAKET SOR RUNGVISAI, (44-4-1, 40 KO’s), of Si Sa Ket, Thailand, defending his title over 12-rounds for the second time against former world champion and #1 ranked mandatory challenger JUAN FRANCISCO “El Gallo” ESTRADA, (36-2, 25 KO’s), of Sonora, Mexico.
Advance tickets for SUPERFLY 2, priced at $250, $150, $100, $60 and $30 will go On-Sale Tuesday, December 12 at 12:00 p.m. PT and can be purchased through Ticketmaster (Ticketmaster.com, 1-800-745-3000) and the Forum Box Office. The Forum is located at 3900 W. Manchester Blvd, Inglewood CA 90305.
“It’s very exciting to announce the main event for the second installment of our SUPERFLY series. With the tremendous response from fans and media from our first event and overwhelming anticipation to our second, we join boxing fans in saying that we ‘can’t wait’ until February 24 at the Forum,” said Loeffler.
“Srisaket Sor Rungvisai had a remarkable year in 2017 upsetting ‘Chocolatito’ by controversial decision on March 18, 2017 at Madison Square Garden for the WBC Super Flyweight Title and decisively defeating him again in his first defense on September 9 at the Stubhub Center at our first SUPERFLY event.”
“Juan Francisco Estrada won a terrific fight against Carlos Cuadras on September 9 at the Stubhub Center and is very anxious to challenge for a world title in the super flyweight division against Sor Rungvisai.”
“The Forum has played host to many nights of memorable battles for more than 40 years and we expect this event to be another chapter in the annals of this iconic venue.”
Said Fernando Beltran, President of Zanfer Promotions, “On February 24 our talented and pride of Mexico, Juan Francisco “Gallo” Estrada will show that he is the best flyweight in the world by beating the WBC Champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in another great night at SUPERFLY 2.”
“HBO has given us a great opportunity to showcase the smaller divisions and the fans will be very happy to see it. If SUPERFLY 1 was a great night of quality boxing and action, I am sure that SUPERFLY 2 will surpass it.”
Mauricio Sulaiman of the World Boxing Council stated, “SUPERFLY 2 must be celebrated as it will bring excitement to boxing fans and it marks the return of real boxing promotion as this concept has found great interest around the world. It is great to see that the smaller weight divisions receive this type of opportunities to shine on the biggest stage of the world for boxing. The WBC fully supports SUPERFLY 2 and looks forward to this spectacular night of boxing.”
Said Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, “The super flyweight division is the deepest division in the world at the moment. I have great respect to Tom Loeffler and HBO for making SUPERFLY so successful, and SUPERFLY 2 will continue to deliver. We have so many great fighters in the super flyweight division, and it is exciting for me because there are many world class opponents that can make terrific fights.”
“Juan Francisco Estrada is definitely among the top-class fighters in our division. When someone is a former unified champion that moved up without losing his titles, you know he is a world class fighter in his prime. However, I am confident that I will be successful in this fight because I will be at my best on fight night again. We will give the fans an incredible fight and I plan on another impressive win.”
“I would like to invite all Thais in the United States, especially those in Los Angeles to attend my fight at the Forum on February 24. Together our Thai hearts will beat and our Thai blood will be pumped with pride and excitement. Let’s show the world our Thai power together on that day!”
Said Estrada, “I am very excited about facing Sor Rungvisai for the WBC Super Flyweight World Title on February 24 at the Forum. He will be a difficult challenge as he defeated Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez twice in a row with a vicious KO in their last fight. Sor Rungvisai is a very tough and skilled boxer so I will have to prepare very well to be ready to challenge him for his belt.”
The 30-year-old Sor Rungvisai made his United States debut on March 18 shocking the boxing world with a 12-round majority decision over then undefeated and consensus #1 pound-for-pound fighter Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez at Madison Square Garden. Dropping Gonzalez in the first stanza, Sor Rungvisai would capture the WBC Super Flyweight World Title in a hotly contested battle that had the massive crowd on their feet throughout.
Rematching Gonzalez on September 9 at The Stubhub Center, Sor Rungvisai would drop the four-division world champion twice in the fourth round, the second resulting in Sor Rungvisai being awarded the knockout stoppage erasing any controversy from the first fight.
Sor Rungvisai also previously held the WBC Super Flyweight World Title defending it once before losing the title to Carlos Cuadras on a technical decision on May 31, 2014. Sor Rungvisai had won the title in his hometown of Si Sa Ket, Thailand on May 3, 2013 by knocking out champion Yota Sato in the eighth round.
Known for his true ‘Mexican Style’ of fighting, Juan Francisco Estrada has remained one of the most popular fighters in the flyweight and super flyweight divisions throughout his nine-year professional career.
The 27-year-old Estrada won the WBC and WBA Flyweight World Titles on April 6, 2013 with a 12-round decision victory over Brian Viloria in Macau, China. Estrada defended both titles six times before moving up to the super flyweight division.
At the inaugural Superfly event on September 9, Estrada fought brilliantly in winning a 12-round unanimous decision over former WBC Super Flyweight World Champion Carlos Cuadras at the Stubhub Center.
Estrada has not lost a fight in over six years. On November 17, 2012, he challenged then WBC Flyweight World Champion Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez, losing a very close, 12-round decision at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Champs Celebrate the Holidays with our US Veterans
This past Tuesday, WBC Cares gathered together with local Champions and fighters from the Los Angeles community to fulfill a promise WBC made to the Veterans Home in Barstow earlier this year, to come spend a Holiday Lunch with our U.S. Veterans, our Heroes. Due to the California Wildfires, a few couldn’t make it because of road closures, but we still had great attendance from Champions and WBC Cares Ambassadors, like Golden Boy’s NABF Featherweight Champion, Joseph “Jo Jo” Diaz Jr., WBA World Super Bantamweight Champion Daniel Roman, Former World Champion Paul Banke, Former World Championship Contenders Ruben Castillo and Mando Muniz, Professional fighter and Officer for L.A.P.D., Juan Bustamente, Cutman Sergio Estrada and lastly the WBC Los Angeles team, Pepe & Cecy Sulaiman, Nancy Rodriguez & kids.
President Mauricio Sulaiman, and WBC Cares Chairperson Jill Diamond wanted to make sure our heroes received a special gift, the WBC presented all Veterans with an official WBC patch personalized with “CAL VETERANS” as well as a special plaque for the Veterans Home presented by Pepe Sulaiman to the Home administrator.
The visit started with our WBC Cares Ambassadors Daniel Roman, Joseph Diaz Jr. Juan Bustamante, Marissa Rodriguez and Ruben Castillo helping serve the veterans and staff a special Holiday Lunch. the Vets had a great time laughing through the line with Ruben Castillo’s jokes and great smiles behind the kitchen line, while the rest of the WBC Family Paul Banke, Sergio Estrada, Mando Muniz ate in the cafeteria with the Vets and had great conversations. After the lunch, WBC presented special gifts to all the Vets who answered Boxing questions, some were present as fans for the Ali vs. Frazier fight! Great stories to hear! Pepe Sulaiman then presented the Home with a Plaque in appreciation for all they do for our heroes, the kids and Ambassadors passed out patches as well as a special WBC cake for all present. The visit ended with many photos and autographs for the Veterans and many smiles.
Barstow is over a two hour drive from Los Angeles, the WBC is very grateful to our ambassadors for taking the time to make the drive out to Barstow and helping bring beautiful smiles to our heroes faces this Holiday season.
WBSS Results: Briedis Defeats Perez By Decision
By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night the Baltic country of Latvia hosted its first ever world championship fight as the World Boxing Super Series came to town. However, neither the pre-fight hype, nor the electric atmosphere inside Arena Riga could turn this highly anticipated match-up into an exciting fight.
The third quarter final of the Cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series saw WBC World Champion Mairis Briedis step into the ring with former heavyweight contender Mike ‘The Rebel’ Perez, with Oleksandr Usyk awaiting the winner in the semifinals.
The early rounds set the tone for what descended into an ugly scrap. In round one ‘The Rebel’ seemed the busier fighter, throwing more frequently and forcing Mairis onto the backfoot.
Round two was when the Latvian started to lay the groundwork for his own game plan. This time Briedis seemed comfortable on the backfoot, initiating a jab and hold tactic that continued relentlessly throughout the fight. The bout looked like it would set alight in round three as Briedis was cut on his left eye by a head clash, which the referee ruled Perez to be at fault for and docked the Cuban a point. For a brief period, Briedis seemed apprehensive, even causing a second-head clash which seemed to effect Perez more than it did the champion.
From round five however, the Latvian regained his composure and dominated right into the championship rounds. His holding wasn’t pretty but it was a strong enough base to work off as he started to land more frequently. By round nine, and arguably earlier, Mike Perez, 22-2-1 heading into tonight, seemed all out of ideas and was caught by a big right uppercut underneath the chin which, although he seemed to recover quickly, definitely shook him up. Enough for him to incorporate Briedis’ tactics of holding long enough to avoid any further damage.
In round ten Briedis was finally docked a point for persistent holding after much protest and frustration from Perez but by then the Latvian had an air of superiority about him. Perez began to rush forward with no real effect and he needed a knockout going into the final round. It never looked like coming.
There was the question of whether Mike’s power would have the desired effect coming down in weight, but in truth we still don’t know if it can. Briedis frustrated Perez throughout, never taking a clean hit from the Cuban nor veering away from his own game plan. Jab-Hold with the occasional combination flurry or eye-catching shot was enough to see Briedis pick up a clear points win, 116-110, 115-111, 114-112.
It’s hard to watch Briedis, now 23-0-0. Tonight, along with his last outing against Marco Huck to win the WBC title, prove why, but up next is tournament, fan favorite, Usyk. It’s a match-up touted for early 2018 and as well as a place in the WBSS final, Usyk’s WBO and Briedis’ WBC Cruiserweight world titles will be at stake. There’s enough there for us to forget about how tonight played out and salivate over how good the upcoming semifinal should be.
Krzysztof Glowacki v Leonardo Bruzzese
The main undercard bout of the night saw World Boxing Super Series reserve, and former WBO World Cruiserweight world champion Krzysztof Glowacki, 27-1-0 before tonight, ease to a stoppage win over Italian Leonardo Bruzzese (18-3-0).
The Polish southpaw dominated from the first bell, landing almost every time with a perfect left hand. And the domination continued through the second. Bruzese, who had fought all but one of his fights outside of Italy, began to land slightly more but it wasn’t a problem Glowacki couldn’t deal with.
The Pole almost ended it at the end of the second and then again through rounds three and fourth. His punches consistently sending Bruzzese onto the ropes, with only a solid chin keeping Leonardo in the fight. But he was never truly ‘in’ the fight as Glowacki hammered at his opponent with precision, power and most tellingly, ease.
Krzysztof finally landed a punch with the desired effect, firing a left hook in round five which dropped Bruzzesse and then again soon after, forcing the Italian to drop down on both knees as the referee waved the bout off.
Glowacki would’ve been a worthy participant in the World Boxing Super Series with or without tonight’s win but what tonight shows is that he’s a clear number of levels above the fringe fighter status. Let’s hope he’s not called upon but if he is, people would be wise to not overlook him as a world class contender at the 200lb limit.
Oleksandr Usyk Stops Tough Marco Huck to Open the World Boxing Super Series
By: Eric Lunger
The Quarter-finals of the World Boxing Super Series tournament opened last night at the venerable Max Schmeling Halle in Berlin, where long time German Cruiserweight champ Marco Huck took on heavily favored Ukrainian WBO belt holder Oleksandr Usyk, the former Olympic champ and teammate of Vasyl Lomachenko.
In the opening round, Usyk showed incredible footwork for a 200 pounder, moving in and out, changing range and angles, even toying with changing stance.
Huck, no rookie, patiently waited for a chance to set his feet and throw a punch, but had little opportunity. Huck did manage to get inside once, where he held Usyk’s head with the left while throwing right hooks – a professional tactic, to put it charitably. Nonetheless, Usyk scored with jabs to the body and head. First round to Usyk, 10-9.
The second round saw better work from Huck, who started to time Usyk and land counter rights to the body. Usyk took over in the second half of the round, however, using his considerable reach to establish a double jab, for which Huck had no answer. Usyk pinned Huck against the ropes late in the round, but the veteran German knew enough to extricate himself at once. Usyk 20-18.
Usyk came out in the third determined to up his tempo and punch output, but Huck is not easy to intimidate. Despite some good counters and some offense from Huck, the Ukrainian champ dominated the round with his foot work and hand speed.
Moments before the bell and sensing some fatigue in his opponent, Usyk slipped to his right and landed a punishing left hook that seems to stun Huck. Usyk 30-27.
In round four, Huck came out aggressively and found a way through Usyk’s guard with a good left hook. But Usyk fired back immediately, following his jab and scoring with his left. Huck continued to look for his straight right, even to the point of leaning in, and was duly punished by Usyk, who pounced on the error. Nonetheless, a close round, maybe with the edge to Huck. Usyk 39-37.
In the fifth, the Ukrainian seemed to realize that Huck, though tough and still throwing punches, was not a threat, and Usyk began to let his hands go, looping big shots with both hands. Conditioning also became a factor in this round, as Huck slowed down in the last 30 seconds of this and the following rounds, while Usyk continued to pressure and put combinations together. Usyk 49-46.
The sixth round was defensive and calculating from both fighters, with the champion content to box behind a high guard, dancing and moving out of range of Huck’s short overhand right. Huck took what was offered and began to attack the body, but drew a warning from referee Robert Byrd for a low blow. The German ended the round with a good combination, however, drawing a grin and grimace of frustration from Usyk. Usyk 58-56.
Having essentially taken a round off, the Ukrainian champ came out in the seventh with higher energy and much more focus. While game and always willing to throw back, Huck had no answer for Usyk’s jab, reach, and hand speed. When Usyk put those three elements together, Huck simply covered up and had to weather the storm. In a reverse mirror image of the last round, Usyk ended it with an effective and emphatic combination. Usyk 68-65.
The eighth began with Huck dangerously letting Usyk come in and then throwing clever counters with both hands. Either Usyk had excellent sparring or he had studied Huck’s style carefully, because he never went for the bait. While Usyk dominated the round, he went down on a slip, and Huck followed him, landing a punch while Usyk was on his knees. Although Huck has been known as a “rugged” fighter, this appeared a reaction more than a foul, but referee Byrd deducted a point. Usyk 78-73.
The fight exploded at the bell to start the ninth, as though Usyk had decided to go for a knock out. Huck, to his gritty credit, blasted back, but was immediately warned for holding Usyk’s head down.
Amazingly, Huck then crawled back into the round, landing a sneaky right hook — probably his best shot of the fight. Usyk answered, but Huck showed the savvy and fortitude that fueled his thirteen strait title defenses. A very close round, I gave it to Huck. Usyk 87-83.
The tenth began tactically, with Usyk still fresh, bouncing on his feet, and Huck trying to walk him down. But suddenly Huck slowed down, momentarily resting on the ropes. Usyk pounced, landing a stinging left hook that staggered the tough German. A blizzard of blows followed, with Usyk’s white gloves pouring through Huck’s guard.
Taking punishment and unable to throw, referee Byrd stepped in to save Huck from further punishment.
Huck fought a tough, clever, and resilient fight, as he has throughout his career. But Usyk is a special boxer; he possesses a rare talent and makes this brutal sport look elegant and, at times, easy. With more to come in the World Boxing Super Series, Oleksandr Usyk will have future opportunities to redefine excellence in the cruiserweight division.