This Saturday, the World Boxing Super Series wraps up their Cruiserweight tournament in spectacular fashion when Oleksandr Usyk (14-0; 11 KOs) faces Murat Gassiev (26-0(1); 19 KOs). The winner wins the WBSS Cruiserweight tournament, but perhaps more importantly, he also becomes the unified champion at 200 pounds, claiming the four major titles currently split between the two. Ring Magazine has Usyk at #1 in the division, Gassiev at #2. Usyk is also #10 on their pound for pound list, and I would find it hard to deny the winner here a higher spot. The fight takes place this Saturday, July 15 in Moscow at 3:00 p.m. ET and will be airing live online at Klowd TV for $9.99.
How do these two stack up?
Usyk: 31 years old | 6’2” | 78” reach | southpaw stance
Gassiev: 24 years old | 6’4” | 76” reach | orthodox stance
What have these two done recently?
Usyk: W - Mairis Breidis (MD) | W - Marco Huck (TKO) | W - Michael Hunter (UD)
Gassiev: W - Yunier Dorticos (TKO) | W - Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (KO) | W - Denis Lebedev (SD)
How did these two get here?
Oleksandr Usyk has been the tournament favorite since day one, and for good reason. He was a 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist for Ukraine (the same Olympic team Vasyl Lomachenko was on), he’s undefeated as a professional, he’s the WBO and WBC champion, he has good power and great technique - what’s not to like here? Usyk has taken steps up in his pro career, and he’s passed them all with great success. His semi-final win over Breidis was a tremendous fight, where he showed a real level of depth to his game, making adjustments to put away the very game Breidis. He’s on a roll, with no signs of stopping.
Murat Gassiev, is, like Usyk, undefeated and a two belt champion (WBA/IBF). He’s been a pro since 2011, two years longer than Usyk, and has more pro experience. His real signature win came over Lebedev in late 2016, launching him into this tournament. That Lebedev fight was a tough, back and forth affair, but the next fight against Wlodarczyk ended up a showcase blow-out. His last fight was a dramatic, 12th round stoppage win where he again showed off his high level skills.
What can fans expect?
A war. Plain and simple. What should be terrific about this fight is that while both men have power and can throw down, they are both technicians as well. Expect this to be a close battle that will be won by inches throughout. It really will come down to who can make the better adjustments as the fight goes on. I expect the opening rounds to be close, but see Usyk as the more varied and dangerous fighter who will pull ahead in the late rounds. That said, Gassiev absolutely has the ability to spoil Usyk’s win - he’s proven that he can make it happen no matter what (lines right now actually have Gassiev at -110 and Usyk at -120 - a sign of just how close this is). This is going to come down to the small details, and it’s going to be a tough one to call.
Prediction: Oleksandr Usyk, SD
Who should watch?
YOU. It’s two of the absolute best in the world, the undeniable top two in the division, fighting for a unified title in a huge fight. Yes, it is annoying that we have to pay and that’s it’s only streaming, but it is worth it. This is what combat sports is all about.