Murat Gassiev prepared for war vs. Yunier Dorticos
If you’re in the States, you’ll have to find a suitable stream (more on this later) for today’s match-up between IBF cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev, 25-0 (18), and WBA beltholder Yunier Dorticos, 22-0 (21), from the Bolshoy Ice Dome in Adler, Russia. This titanic tilt is a semifinal bout in the cruiserweight tournament of the World Boxing Super Series.
The winner goes on to face Oleksander Usyk, who, last weekend, decisioned a game Mairis Briedis over 12 fast-paced rounds, to add the WBC title to the WBO crown he held coming in.
Gassiev says of this bout with the Cuban slugger, “I think, for me now, it’s the toughest fight of my professional career. I’ve prepared myself for a 12-round fight and I’m ready for this.”
Most believe this bout will end well before the final bell and for good reason. Both are heavy-handed bangers who came into the semifinals in style. Gassiev stopped veteran Krzyszstof Wlodarczyk in three rounds with a perfectly placed left hook to the body, while Dorticos scored an eye-opening KO of Dmitry Kudryashov in two.
“In the cruiserweight division, everybody has a strong punch,” said Gassiev, who is one of the most concussive punchers in the sport. “I don’t feel a big difference; it’s normal. Big guys hit hard and I think this is what people like and need right now.”
Gassiev is trained by Abel Sanchez and is a stablemate of middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin. He says of his time at the Summit in Big Bear, California, “Abel’s helped me a lot; he teaches me a lot of things. My style is now more aggressive. We do a lot of physical training and I’m very happy to be with Abel, with ‘Triple G,’ because these guys help me a lot and I really like it.”
Looking at Dorticos, he is the looser-limbed puncher, who’s probably quicker off the trigger than Gassiev. However Gassiev is a bit tighter technically and more methodical in his approach. It says here that whomever can establish his jab and back up the other has a huge tactical advantage in this contest. When asked if he would try and box early on, Gassiev answered, “I need to do the best what I can do. I’m not a pretty boxer – I’m a fighter. I like street fight and I want to show this style.”
So in other words, bombs will be bursting in air, early and often?
“Yes, it’s war,” proclaimed Gassiev, “First round, last round – it’s war. All seconds, all moments, it’s a war.”
Like many of you, here in America, last week I had a bit of a frustrating time getting a clean stream of the Usyk-Briedis fight. The World Boxing Super Series provided a legal one on its YouTube and Facebook pages but, quite frankly, there were…ummm, issues with that and many were forced to – ahem – “listen on the radio.”
This is a shame because it was a really good fight in Latvia.
Unfortunately the WBSS has not been able to procure a television deal in the States, for various reasons but, for years, save for a short period of time with Evander Holyfield, the cruiserweight division has, for the most part, been ignored by the major networks over here.
The fights involving Gassiev and Dorticos, in the quarterfinals, were held in the States (in Newark, New Jersey, and San Antonio, Texas, respectively) but the large majority of this tournament has been based in Europe (which is probably one of the reasons HBO and Showtime shied away from at least the first two rounds).
And outside the usual fight week pressers and open workouts, there hasn’t been all that much promotion of these fights in America. The aforementioned quotes from Gassiev were from a short interview conducted at the “SuperFly2” press conference, in mid-January, at the Palm Restaurant in Los Angeles, where Gassiev accompanied his trainer (who is working with Carlos Cuadras, who faces McWilliams Arroyo on that card, on February 24).
Perhaps (hopefully?) the finals of the World Boxing Super Series will be picked up by one of the major American networks.
To its credit, it has been a very strong and noticeable presence on social media (its Twitter account @WBSuperSeries does a really good job of keeping fans updated and engaged) and has produced high-quality shoulder programming, such as this pre-fight feature on Gassiev-Dorticos:
Or this one in review of Usyk-Briedis:
Yeah, all this (and, of course, the actual fights) has you wanting more.
Hopefully next time, those of us here in the good ol’ U.S. of A can find a more convenient way of viewing it.
It was a double dose of “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” with Mario Lopez and Yours Truly this week.
…then we discussed everything in boxing, including Gassiev-Dorticos on this episode.
I’m told that, like last week, the main event (Gassiev-Dorticos) will begin at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT, so plan your day accordingly…The Top Rank shows begin at 10:15 p.m. ET, with ESPNews airing the bouts featuring Jesse Hart and Teofimo Lopez at 9 p.m. ET…Is there a “Curse of LeBron” going on with the All-Star Game selections? Guys are going down all over…”The Two Bills,” the latest “30 for 30,” on ESPN was great stuff. A must-watch for any football fan. Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells are two of the best ever to be on the sidelines…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.