Murat Gassiev vs Oleksandr Usyk
By Kid Hersh
World Boxing Association (WBA) Super World Cruiserweight Champion Murat Gassiev (26-0, 19KO’s) and Okelsandr Usyk (14-0, 11KO’s) squared off in their highly anticipated bout at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow. The bout is the final in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) and is historic in the sense that it is the first time an undisputed cruiserweight champion will be crowned.
In the first round, Usyk was circling and jabbing as Gassiev did not have his motor warmed up yet - he is notoriously a slow starter. He did, however, land a couple of nice left hooks near the end of the first round. The second round was a lot like the first, except that Gassiev was unloading a few more hooks to the body. His power appeared to move Usyk at times, but Usyk was still far busier and boxing very well. Usyk continued boxing beautifully, especially in the fourth round when we witnessed when of the best "boxing" performances of the year by Usyk for the entire round EXCEPT at the very end when Gassiev landed a bomb of a right hand to end the round - about the only punch he landed in the round. In the mid rounds Gassiev continued to have a very low punch output as Usyk was confusing him with his sense of range/distance and timing, as well as getting off first. Any time that Gassiev managed to land something nice it was usually a body shot (with many accidentally straying low to show the issues he was having) and Usyk would answer right back with a sharp combination. Usyk showed absolutely no signs of slowing down as Gassiev did not appear to have any other game plan to employ - he was simply moving forward and looking for hooks in range but Usyk was obviously the ring general controlling the distance that the fight was fought at. Usyk was throwing and landing double to triple the number of punches Gassiev was, who was looking a bit weary and beaten up - bleeding from the nose in the tenth round. The eleventh round was a very good one, with Usyk standing his ground and firing back at Gassiev who was trying to change the course of the fight as best he could under the current conditions. Usyk was landing some bombs himself but Iron has a helluva chin. Usyk showed amazing stamina as he continued moving and boxing his man in the twelfth and final round - even doing a little Ali shuffle before the fight was over; a nice touch to his amazing performance for the Muhammad Ali Trophy. The cards came in 120-108, 119-109, 119-109 for Usyk
Gassiev: "I want to congratulate Usyks team, they did a great job"
"This is a very good experience for me, he proved he is the best"
Usyk: "I give credit to all of my team for this win, my team made me look as good as I did in the ring tonight."
"I heard Tony Bellew is looking to fight the winner of this tournament. Hey Tony - are you ready for me?" and added that he is willing to go up in weight, eating extra spaghetti, to fight The Bomber
"My wife has already made a special place for this trophy in my home"