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Murat Gassiev ready for Denis Lebedev says Sanchez

Denis Lebedev

By Eric Baldwin: Trainer Abel Sanchez believes his young fighter unbeaten Murat Gassiev (23-0, 17 KOs) is ready to dethrone IBF World cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev (29-2, 22 KOs) this Saturday night in their fight at the Khodnyka Ice Palace in Moscow, Russia. The 5’11” Lebedev has looked invincible in his last four fights since losing to the much taller and longer armed 6’4” Guillermo Jones in 2013 in losing by an 11th round TKO due to swelling on his right cheekbone.

This Saturday, Lebedev will be facing a fighter with similar height and reach in the 6’3 ½” Gassiev, and it could prove to be a very difficult fight for him. Sanchez believes that his fighter 23-year-old Gassiev has the punching power and the ability to beat the 37-year-old Lebedev despite not having nearly as much experience as him.

With both fighters being Russian, it’s debatable which of the two will have the Russian crow on their side this Saturday night in Moscow. It’s possible that the crowd will be neutral and merely root for whoever is landing the best shots. Gassiev hits so hard. He needs to make sure he throws enough punches to give himself a chance of winning. In looking at some of Gassiev’s past fights, he only throws a small handful of punches in each round. Of those punches, two or three of them are thrown tremendous power.

If Gassiev is able to land one of those shots, it’s going to be tough for Lebedev to take it. I don’t care how good Lebedev’s chin is. If he gets hit flush by one of Gassiev’s best shots, he’s going to have a problem.

Sanchez said this to Fight News about the Gassiev vs. Lebedev fight on Saturday night on December 3:

“I want guys who go in the ring and knock people out,” said Sanchez. “It’s very important to me. The power allows you to do other things. The power allows Gassiev to do things on his own terms. He’s mentally ready to face Lebedev and win. I’m very confident about that.”

Sanchez just needs to make sure that Gassiev uses his size, reach and punching power to the best of his ability on Saturday. It’s not enough to just be the much bigger, stronger and younger fighter inside the ring. Gassiev needs to be busy. If he’s going to waiting around for the perfect opportunity for him to let his hands go, he could wind up getting knocked out, because the southpaw Lebedev will not wait to throw his own punches.

Lebedev isn’t shy about being busy with his own offense, and he’s got excellent power and boxing skills. Lebedev also has a very good trainer in Freddie Roach, who will no doubt have a good game plan for this fight. The game plan will likely involve Lebedev using movement and combination punching to get the better of Gassiev. Fighters that move a lot seem to give Gassiev problems.

You could see that in Gassiev’s last two fights against Jordan Shimmell and Isiah Thomas. Those guys used slow circular movement and a steady jab to redden the face and forehead of Gassiev. However, Gassiev was able to catch Shimmell with a tremendous left hook to KO him at the end of the 1st round in their fight in May.

Gassiev’s match against Isiah Thomas ended by a 3rd round no contest last year in December. The fight was stopped because Gassiev hit Thomas with a right hand after the bell had sounded in the 3rd round. It was slightly controversial, because Gassiev had already hurt Thomas with a right hand at the bell. Thomas appeared to be hurt from that shot.

Gassiev then threw one extra punch after the bell that didn’t seem to connect with a lot of authority compared to the previous one. Never the less, Thomas slumped against the ropes and needed to be helped back to his corner. The fight was then halted in between rounds and ruled a no contest.

Gassiev has had only one fight in 2016 in his 1st round knockout win over Shimell, so there could be some ring rust with him. You’d like to see a young fighter like Gassiev fighting more than twice a year. Gassiev fought three times in 2015. That’s a decent amount of fights, but even that amount isn’t that great for a guy that was only22.

Gassiev is just 23 now, and if he wins the IBF title from Lebedev on Saturday night, he’ll likely be defending it just twice per year like a lot of champions. I don’t know if that would be good news for Gassiev and for the boxing fans, because he hasn’t had the chance to get a lot of experience. Gassiev reportedly fought only 25 fights as an amateur. He’s now had 23 fights as a pro, and is on the verge if potentially winning a world title at the raw age of 23.

Lebedev has won his last four fights in beating Pawel Kolodziej, Youri Kayembre Kalenga, Lateef Kayode, and Victor Emilio Ramirez. Those are good fighters, but none of them have the kind of punching power that Gassiev possesses. It’s going to be interesting to see if Lebedev can take Gassiev’s huge power shots for the full 12 rounds on Saturday night. If Lebedev and his trainer Roach can find a way to keep Gassiev from landing his big power shots, then they might be able to out-box him over the 12 rounds of the fight.


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