Denis Lebedev vs. Murat Gassiev in the works
By Jim Dower: WBA cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev (29-2, 22 KOs) will be defending his World Boxing Association title next against unbeaten #2 IBF, #6 WBA challenger Murat Gassiev (23-0, 17 KOs) in November or December in a fight that will be staged in Russia. Both fighters are from Russia, so there won’t be an advantage for either of them.
The promoters for the fight will be Andrey Ryabinskiy’s World of Boxing.
This is a big step up for the 22-year-old Gassiev, because he’s never faced anyone remotedly as good as the 37-year-old Lebedev during his short five-year pro career. However, Gassiev is catching Lebedev at the right time in his career, because he’s getting up there in age at 37, and he’s not faced a real threat since his 11th round knockout loss to Guillermo Joones in 2013.
Lebedev has won his last four fights since then in beating Pawel Kolodziej, Youri Kayembre Kalenga, Lateef Kayode and Victor Emilio Ramirez. Those are good fighters, but they don’t have the kind of punching power or youth that the Gassiev has going for him in this fight.
The 6’3 1/2” Gassiev recently knocked out Jordan Shimmel in the 1st round last May. Gassiev knocked out unbeaten Isiah Thomas in a shot after the bell in the third round in December of last year. The fight was ruled a no contest. The last fighter to go the full distance with Gassiev was the strong-chinned journeyman Ismail Abdoul in February 2014. Gassiev was only 20-years-old when that fight took place. He’s clearly improved since then. It would be interesting to see if Abdoul could last the distance with Gassiev now.
Gassiev knocked out Rodney Moore in the 2nd round in June of last year and Felix Cora Jr. in the 9th round in April 2015. Moore is the same fighter that Roy Jones Jr. recently took the full 10 round distance last Saturday night.
Gassiev is going to be a big test for the 5’11” Lebedev. He’ll be giving away 4 ½” inches in height to Gassiev, and that’s a lot of size to be giving up, especially when you consider how hard Gassiev hits.
Gassiev will need to throw more punches in this fight because he cannot afford to be economical with his shots if he wants to win.
Gassiev has one-punch power and can knockout anybody if he lands his shots flush. For Lebedev to win, he’s going to need to take advantage of Gassiev’s slow starts to get to him before he warms up.