Soccer fans have had their fun in Moscow, Russia, but come July 21st it’ll be a night for the sweet science as two fighters will clash in a matchup that has hardcore fans absolutely rabid.
Russia’s unified champion Murat Gassiev will meet in the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight final against Ukraine’s (also unified champion) Oleksandr Usyk.
Gassiev (26-0 19KO 1NC) holds the WBA and IBF crusierweight belts while Usyk (14-0 11KO) is in possession of the WBC and WBO straps.
Just to be clear, that’s two undefeated fighters coming together with the winner-take-all undisputed crusierweight championship with the final Muhammad Ali trophy, lest we forget the money!
Gassiev, is trained in Big Bear, California by Abel Sanchez, also trainer to middleweight champion and knockout artist Gennady Golovkin.
Gassiev has scored some spectacular KO’s of his own in order to reach the finals.
He dispatched Polish battle-tested veteran Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in the third round in the quarterfinals in New Jersey last year and was pushed to his limits in a close and classic matchup against Cuba’s Yunier Dorticos this year.
Gassiev with a narrow lead on the cards had scored three knock-downs in the twelfth round in front of a hometown crowd in Sochi for the referee to award Gassiev a stoppage win.
Usyk, earning Olympic gold in London in 2012, has proven to be the very definition of the road warrior.
Defeating Krzysztof Glowacki in Poland in 2016, defending his belt three times (once in Germany against Marco Huck in the WBSS quarterfinals and twice in America) and collecting his second championship with a razor-thin majority decision victory in Latvia against their very own Mairis Briedis.
Usyk once again will be venturing into enemy territory for one of the largest of prizes in one of boxing’s most overlooked divisions.
The fight, which could have very easily been mired in toxic Russia vs Ukraine venom with the military situation in Donbass has been kept in safe territory.
Usyk, while getting political and patriotic at times, even discussing Donbass from moment to moment, has insisted on staying out of politics while boxing, insisting that words get easily taken out of context and there’s no need to divide Russian and Ukrainian people, stating “we are all Slavs.”
To the delight of many, the relationship between Usyk and Gassiev has remained competitive, yet clean.
Many eastern European fighters are highlighted on the Moscow Usyk-Gassiev showdown, including another undisputed champ, Norway’s Cecilia Braekhus holding all the women’s welterweight belts, squaring off against Inna Sagaydakovskya.