A week after the battle of the boxers in the first semi-final – at the time of writing Oleksandr Usyk vs Maris Briedis had yet to take place – the two punchers of the tournament collide in what is guaranteed to be a firework filled event.
The IBF Cruiserweight ruler, Murat Gassiev takes home advantage in Russia when he welcomes the destructive fists of WBA champion Yunior Dorticos.
Gassiev 25-0(18KO’s) raced through the opening 5 years of his career before he was ready to step in with countryman and IBF champion Denis Lebedev.
The champion was dropped in the 5th, but would not surrender his crown easily as he dragged the contest out to its final bell. It was a split decision in favour of the new champion.
Gassiev’s opening bout of the World Boxing Super Series was a brutal one. It was his mandatory, but Krzysztof Wlodarcyzk was a very capable challenger, having reigned for some considerable time as champion himself.
In 57 fights the Polish warrior had never been stopped, but he was spectacularly wiped out in 3 rounds with a breath-taking body shot from Gassiev.
Cuba’s Dorticos 22-0(21KO’s) has seen his career slowed by multiple 12 month hiatus from the ring. But those lengthy absences have never seemed to cause any harm, with Dorticos returning with 1st round stoppages in his previous welcoming returns.
And it was 16 months between his late come-from-behind stoppage of Youri Kalenga and his meeting with fearsome Dmitry Kudryashov.
But the Russian banger was clinically whipped out in the second round of a fiery encounter.
There are cases for both champions in this one, which makes it such a fascinating contest in a truly underrated division.
Whatever people say of this tournament across other weight classes, it has certainly turned out to be a success in the Cruiserweight division.
Dorticos is the faster and arguably sharper of the two, but he is far easier to catch both when he is letting his hands go and when he is not.
Whereas Gassiev, a more static target is harder to pin down with a clean shot when he is stalking, but if a fighter is brave enough to trade with him, then the Russian can be tagged.
Dorticos is certainly fearless enough to fight fire-with-fire in this one and that could lead to yet another quick stoppage one way or another.
Gassiev will come out behind a high guard, walking forward as Dorticos goads Gassiev with his hands down low.
Gassiev will draw gasps from the crowd every time he launches a right cross, but early on his aim will be off target.
Dorticos will have the confidence to fire looping shots even when Gassiev has his shell-like defence up, and his thudding power will begin to have an effect on the features of the favourite.
At some point the pair will go blow-for-blow and in this instance Dorticos is likely to come out better off – largely thanks to a 4-inch reach advantage.
Having hurt his rival around the midway stage, Dorticos can upset the applecart and stun a rowdy Russian crowd. Landing cleanly when Gassiev is in mid-flow, Dorticos will follow-up with his opponent in clear danger.
The guard will go up, but the man now living out of Miami will load up from range, while still landing with considerable force.
Gassiev can rise from a knockdown, but with time on his side and behind on the scorecards, Dorticos will not miss his opportunity, leaving with both belts around his waist in the 7th round.