The War Report: Unruly practice (Week 38, 2017)
A majority of those who attended last Saturday’s “World Boxing Super Series” event in San Antonio, Texas, probably didn’t really know who either cruiserweight was in the main event. Yunier Dorticos and Dmitry Kudryashov had never fought there before, nor would there be a large Cuban or Russian contingent in the area relied upon to fill the Alamodome. Little they did know these two cruiserweights were taking part in a single elimination tournament that will end up crowning an undisputed champion – an idea so sensible and clear cut – the casual observer wouldn’t need any further explanation to follow along. However they were in the temporary office of the “KO Doctor” and he was about to give them a moment to remember forever.
The elaborate set-up was made to order for this practitioner of knockouts. The ring was remarkably clean with white ropes, a black canvas and without any shameless advertising polluting it. The seats around the ring were laid out in a circular fashion, mimicking some sort of operating theater in which hopeful surgeons of tomorrow got to see professionals of today at work. Dorticos, 31, was even dressed appropriately for the occasion, as he was introduced to the unsuspecting crowd. The strikingly yellow shirt and trunks seemed way too big for the 6-foot-3 Cuban but the getup resembled that of surgical attire, or even an academic robe. On the surface, he didn’t look like the menacing figure who stood in the opposite corner. With a crooked nose, bald head and reddish beard, Kudryashov, Volgodonsk, Russia, fit the description of a menacing psychopath and he was about to be a patient of Dortico’s unruly practice.
The contest started out with a feeling-out process that measured each other’s strength, rather than trying to compute a comfortable distance. Quickly, Dorticos made Kudryashov realize that he’d fight fire with fire and that this was going to be a test of wills until either one was able to deliver the final punch. Kudryashov, nicknamed “The Russian Hammer,” presented a sample size of the devastating power he’s shown in the past but Dorticos’ combinations seemed more inspired in the opening round. The combos weren’t even all that creative but Dorticos willed the one-twos to puncture through Kudryashov’s guard and the round ended with an intense staredown after Dorticos threw a punch slightly after the bell.
Inexplicably, the Russian showed signs of wariness early in the fight, after throwing an extremely lazy combination midway through the second round, and Dorticos may have noticed it. Two minutes in, Kudryashov threw another lazy punch. This time, it was just a jab and it would be the last punch he threw in the fight. It may not have looked that way but Dorticos put every ounce of his weight behind a right hand over the top of that lax jab. It was a fundamentally perfect shot, landing square on Kudryashov’s face, it slowly collapsed him to the canvas. Kudryashov, 21-2 (21), wasn’t knocked out completely but, in the immediate aftermath, when trying to get up, went from this daunting figure to an unnerved zombie. Galvanized in the heat of the moment, Dorticos, 22-0 (21), pumped his chest with the same right hand that sent his foe into this transfiguration and, although Kudryashov got up at the count of nine, referee Rafael Ramos rightfully waved the fight off and the jubilation continued for the Cuban.
“I knew that he was going to come at me and I waited and delivered the shot,” said the KO Doctor after the victory. “Once it landed, I knew it was over.”
The knockout was as grandiose as the tournament that brought the match-up to fruition and, to the unsuspecting viewers watching live that evening, there must’ve been a strange balance of satisfaction while wanting more. They can get more, should they follow the rest of the World Boxing Super Series and Dorticos has earned the right to be their cruiserweight, if they hadn’t picked one already. Entering the semifinals of the eight-man tournament, Dorticos will learn the identity of his next opponent on October 21 but the KO Doctor has already called the likely winner into his office.
“I want to prove to the world that I am the best cruiserweight in the world right now. I know that I want to fight Murat Gassiev. I know he’s watching me and I’ll be watching him. If he can take care of business, I would love to fight him. I’m ready to make that fight happen.”