The War Report: Pay a call (Week 42, 2017)

IBF cruiserweight titlist Murat Gassiev (left) faces off against WBA beltholder Yunier Dorticos. Photo credit: Stephanie Trapp/Trapp Photos/World Boxing Super Series


“I prepared myself with my coach for a 12-round fight -  but it’s boxing . I have great chance and I use this and this result is knockout.”


Moments after successfully defending his IBF cruiserweight title for the first time, Murat Gassiev’s first post-fight thought was about as matter-of-fact as his third round knockout of Krzysztof Wlodarcyzk on Saturday night, where, at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, the “World Boxing Super Series” finalized its cruiserweight semifinal bracket.


“I listen to my coach every round and he tells me what I need to do. That’s it,” Gassiev replied when asked to elaborate on the knockout, by WBSS reporter Ray Flores.


Photo credit: Stephanie Trapp/Trapp Photos/World Boxing Super Series


Gassiev, 25-0 (18), a 24-year-old Russian transplant, trained by Abel Sanchez in Big Bear, California, may have been hamstrung on explaining the details, thanks to his limited English, but, in the ring, he presents power that’s beyond comprehension. On this evening, only Wlodarczyk, 53-4-1 (37), could fully understand what it was like, after a left uppercut from Gassiev rattled his head and another left to the liver crumbled him to the canvas, two minutes into the third stanza. The experienced 36-year-old was well past his prime and the expectations were relatively low going into the bout. However it wasn’t thought to be this easy for Gassiev, especially considering the former WBC cruiserweight titleholder from Warsaw, Poland, had never been stopped before.



In all likelihood, Gassiev and his team probably knew he was a mismatch for Wlodarczyk, and they also had knowledge of him as an opponent in advance. In an agreement with the IBF and the World Boxing Super Series, this fight was the only pre-conditioned matchup allowed to happen in a tournament format with seeding, and even an elaborate drafting of the first round, in which top guys chose who they fought. Gassiev, the No. 2 seed in the WBSS, proceeded to choose Wlodarczyk, and, when asked why, reminded everyone of the obligations he had to face the IBF No. 1 contender. In other words, it was bound to happen but Gassiev entered the WBSS still looking to have his first fight in 2017, after a year in which he delivered a legitimate “Knockout of the Year” candidate and won a world title by beating Denis Lebedev handily in his first step-up fight. Call it a warm-up or even another thankless mandatory, Gassiev’s walk-through of Wlodarczyk won’t be remembered for what it was, thanks to the harmonious format of a boxing tournament, which is the reason why, even on a night when a highlight reel knockout happened, it was already a thing of the past, as the post-fight interview concluded.


“(WBA cruiserweight titlist Yunier) Dorticos is a very great fighter,” said Gassiev when finally asked about his next opponent in the WBSS. “He has great amateur experience; he is world champion in professional. He is undefeated and I’m sure to give all boxing fans a great fight.”


In the ring to pay a call to Gassiev, Yunier “The KO Doctor” Dorticos stood there looking sharp in a three-piece suit and, three weeks removed from his unruly second round knockout of Dmitry Kudryashov, was fresh-faced and ready to give an early prognosis of their impending match-up.


“I give credit to Murat and his entire team but, now, this is something I wanted. He kind of maybe wanted to avoid it but it is upon us,” Dorticos said in Spanish. “This is a fight for my family. I’m going to knock you out. I’m going to knock you out.”’



With Sanchez in his ear translating, Gassiev, who can be best described as a muscular teddy bear, reacted as if he liked the diagnosis Dorticos gave him. After a big smile and lending a firm handshake, he proceeded to take part in their first stare down. Perhaps it was the adrenaline still flowing, just a few minutes removed from his fight, but Gassiev couldn’t shelve his grin, as Dorticos stared back intensely. With his head slightly tilted and bold black eyes set still, Dorticos seemed to have all day to analyze his next patient until Sanchez decided to step in end the stare down that lasted about 12 seconds. Befittingly enough, the mad scientist behind the brute technique and strength of Gassiev didn’t have time for Dorticos’ trivial process to go on too long and, for as uneventful a stare down, the first moment having anything to do with Gassiev-Dorticos enjoyed an intense undercurrent that manifests what it will be like when these two KO artists exchange leather.


*The Gassiev-Dorticos date and venue are yet to be determined*




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