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Denis Lebedev vs. Murat Gassiev – Official weights

Denis Lebedev

By Jeff Aranow: IBF/WBA cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev (29-2, 22 KOs) weighed in successfully in coming in at 199.7lbs on Friday’s weigh-in for his title defense against the much younger 23-year-old Russian Murat Gassiev (23-0, 17 KOs) this Saturday night at the Khodnyka Ice Palace in Moscow, Russia.

The 6’3” Gassiev weighed in at slightly less than Lebedev at 198.4lbs. This is a great fight. The boxing world is very excited about the Lebedev-Gassiev match-up, because it could be the passing of the baton from a very good champion to a future star in the cruiserweight division in Gassiev, who is seen by some as the cruiserweight division’s version of Gennady Golovkin.

The weight for Gassiev is slightly less than what he usually weighs in. Gassiev is usually at 199lbs. You have to wonder whether he might have overdone it a little during training camp in getting ready for the Lebedev fight. Gassiev is young though, and this isn’t going to hurt him like it might an older fighter that is struggling to make the weight. Gassiev is likely going to put a lot of weight after he rehydrates before the fight. Gassiev looks like a small heavyweight when he’s fully rehydrated.

The 5’11” Lebedev is going to be giving up a lot of size when he gets inside the ring on Saturday night. He’ll be four inches shorter than Gassiev, and he’ll be giving away a lot of reach as well. For Lebedev to land his power shots, it means he’s going to need to crowd Gassiev the entire fight. If he stays on the outside, he’s going to get hammered.

Lebedev isn’t an inside fighter though. He does most of his punching at medium distance. Gassiev seems to be powerful from any distance. He can throw really hard shots from long range or in close. He’s one of those fighters that is dangerous no matter where he’s throwing his punches.

This is a big fight for Russia. It’s one of the biggest matches of Lebedev’s career since his fight against Marco Huck six years ago in 2010. Gassiev is seen as a future world champion and star in the cruiserweight division. Gassiev’s trainer Abel Sanchez feels that he’s going to be the next Gennady “GGG” Golovkin type of fighter.

Sanchez also trains Golovkin, and Gassiev has him to help give him pointers to improve his game. Golovkin no doubt has given Gassiev some advice for his match against Lebedev on Saturday night. One thing that Gassiev can definitely improve on is his work rate. Gassiev waits too long in between punches. We saw that in Gassiev’s fights against Isiah Thomas and Jordan Shimmell.

Gassiev lt those fighters land a lot of shots on him before he started to let his own punches go. Against Shimmell, Gassiev barely threw any punches until the final seconds of the 1st round. Gassiev nailed Shimmell with a left hook that knocked him completely out. I don’t think Shimmell was expecting the big punch from Gassiev, because he’d thrown almost nothing before that time, and he’ taken a lot of shots to the forehead in the fight. If Gassiev lets Lebedev hit him in the same manner, he might not make it out of the 1st round.

Lebedev hits too hard for Gassiev to let him tee off on him with a lot of shots. Sanchez and Golovkin have likely impressed upon Gassiev the need for him to let his hands go in this fight early on, because it could get out of hand quickly if Lebedev is allowed to be the only one throwing opunches in the first two rounds.

Lebedev quickly destroyed IBF cruiserweight champion Victor Emilio Ramirez in two rounds in his last fight in May at the Khodnyka Ice Palace in Moscow Russia. What was really impressive about Lebedev’s win over the 32-year-old Ramirez was how quickly it happened. Ramirez had never been knocked out before in his 10-year pro career.

No one had even hurt Ramirez before the Lebedev fight, and he’d been in with big punchers like Ola Afolabi, Marco Huck, Ovill McKenzie and Alexander Alekseev. None of those guys had been able to hurt Ramirez or put him down. Ramirez fell apart completely under the power shots from Lebedev last May, and it was a brutal mismatch.

If Lebedev was able to do that against a normally tough-chinned fighter like Ramirez, then it’s quite possible that he’ll be able to do the same thing against Gassiev on Saturday night if he can get his shots off without worrying about too much coming back. Gassiev has got to step on the gas right away if he doesn’t want to get taken quickly by Lebedev. There are some boxing fans that believe that Gassiev is economical with his offense because he’s got major stamina problems that he’s trying to hide. If that’s the case, then Gassiev is going to have problems on Saturday night and in his future fights when he faces guys that are able to nullify his power.

Gassiev has got to be able to average a decent amount of punches without fading. If Gassiev’s work rate is going to be averaging in the low 20s for his fights, he’s going to take an enormous amount of shots if he can’t score quick knockouts like he’s been doing during his brief five year pro career.

In Gassiev’s fights against Thomas and Shimmell, if he’d continued to take punishment like he was taking in the early going of those fights for a full 10 to 12 round fight, he would potentially suffer a cut of bad enough swelling to cause him to lose. Gassiev cannot let his opponents tee off on him the way he let those guys and other fighters do if he wants to go far in boxing. Gassiev won’t always be able to score quick knockouts like we’ve seen recently. Some of these fighters are going to find a way to survive against him by using movement or perhaps by clinching a lot.

Weights:

Denis Lebedev 199.7 vs. Murat Gassiev 198.4


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