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Murat Gassiev motivated to unify cruiserweight division

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By Jim Dower: IBF World cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev (25-0, 18 KOs) is highly motivated with his goal of unifying the division in 2018 by beating WBA Super World champion Yunier Dorticos (22-0, 21 KOs) on February 3, and then defeating the winner of this Saturday’s unification fight between WBO champion Aleksandr Usyk (13-0, 11 KOs) and WBC champion Mairis Briedis (23-0, 18 KOs).

Gassiev and the 31-year-old Doricos meet up in the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series [WBSS] tournament in early next month at the Boyshoy Ice Dome, in Adler, Russia. That’s supposed to be a 50-50 fight, but the Abel Sanchez trained 24-year-old Russian Gassiev views it as a very winnable one for him. Gassiev wants to draw Dorticos into a war so he can put hands on him and KO him like he did to his last opponent former 2-time cruiserweight champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk.

“In six months I can be unified world champion. I think (the World Boxing Super Series is) great for boxing… I have opportunity to take all belts now…I like fight, like street fight and I show this.”

Dorticos is really peaking right now with his 1-punch knockouts. He looked very good in his quarterfinals 2nd round knockout win over Dmitry Kudryashov past September. Dorticos has more experience than Gassiev from his amateur days in Cuba, but it might not matter. Gassiev hits so hard.

If he lands anything flush on the chin or to the body of Dorticos, it could be over. Dorticos’ inability to take hard punches is what limited his success at the amateur level. Dorticos was flattened by Artur Beterbiev in 1 round in their fight in 2006 at the World Cup. While that was a long time ago, I still believe Beterbiev would beat Dorticos even now.

If Beterbiev was able to stop Dorticos, then you can bet that Gassiev can too if he lands anything hard to the body or head. Gassiev’s ability to throw body punches makes him very dangerous for Dorticos or Usyk, as both may not be able to take the shots downstairs so well.

That would be huge blow to the dreams of Usyk if the 24-year-old Gassiev winds up winning the World Boxing Super Series, because he’s the #1 seed in the tournament. Usyk is so confident of winning the tournament that he’s already talking about moving up to heavyweight to face Anthony Joshua. Gassiev is talking about moving up to heavyweight as well if he wins the WBSS tourney. Both guys have the same goals.

Usyk, 31, is older than Gassiev and he has an Olympic gold medal from 2012. A large part of why Usyk is the favorite in the WBSS tournament is because he won an Olympic gold medal. He’s not looking better than Gassiev lately. It’s hard to do better than a fighter who is destroying everyone.

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