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Dorticos loses to Gassiev, wants rematch


By Allan Fox: Yunier Dorticos (22-1, 21 KOs) put in a valiant effort last Saturday night in his unification fight against Murat Gassiev (26-0, 19 KOs), but ultimately, he fell short in getting stopped in the 12th round in Adler, Russia.

Dorticos was knocked down several times in the 12th round, and leading to the fight being stopped by referee Eddie Claudio at 2:52 of the round. Dorticos, 31, seemed to be ashamed of his performance after the fight, putting his head down at the post-fight press conference and staying that he’d led down his boxing fans in Cuba, Miami and around the world.

Dorticos said he wants a second fight against Gassiev, whether he wins or loses to Oleksandr Usyk in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series tournament on May 11th in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Dorticos still wants a rematch with the 24-year-old Gassiev no matter what takes place between him and Usyk.

Unfortunately for Dorticos, he may need to move up to heavyweight for him to get the second fight with Gassiev, as he’s made it known that he plans on moving up to the heavyweight division if he wins the WBSS tournament. If Gassiev loses to Usyk, then it’s still possible that he’ll move up to heavyweight. There’s big money to be made in that division for fighters that can get a title shot against IBF, WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, and it might not take Gassiev long for him to get a crack at the British fighter, especially if he wins the WBSS tournament.

The beginning of the end for Dorticos came in round 10 when Gassiev connected with a perfectly thrown left hook that sent him down on his backside. The way that Dorticos fell, it seemed clear that he was going to need a miracle to get out of the round. Some fighters get overly anxious when they score a knockdown. Gassiev wasn’t one of them. He turned around and waived to the crowd while waiting for Dorticos to get up. Gassiev then calmly walked over and continued to batter Dorticos until knocking him down with a chopping left hand to the head. Dorticos got up and tried to make a last stand against Gassiev, but it was no use. The Russian fighter was head-hunting all the way, nailing the Cuban fighter, and causing him to stagger along the ropes. Gassiev then connected with a left to the head that sent Dorticos through the ropes. Luckily for Dorticos, he didn’t fall completely out of the ring. He was partially supported by a table next to the ring. The referee stopped the fight immediately after looking at the glazed look on Dorticos’ face. He looked hurt in no condition to continue fighting. It didn’t matter. There was only 8 seconds left in the fight, and there was no chance that Dorticos was going to recover in that time period to score a knockout of Gassiev. It was academic at that point that Gassiev was going to win.

“I’m sad. I feel like I disappointed a lot of people of Cuba and Miami, and a lot of people here tonight,” Dorticos said after the fight. “He got the best of me. He’s a strong fighter. I would like for him to give me a rematch. Both of us made history with a spectacular fight. This is hard, but I promise I’m coming back,” Dorticos said.

Dorticos was so confident going into last Saturday’s fight with the Russian Gassiev at the Ice Dome in Adler, Russia. Dorticos had been predicting that he’d stop Gassiev by the 6th round. It didn’t happen though. The 6th round was easily the best round for Gassiev up to that point in the fight. Gassiev seemed to turn it up a notch in round 6, possibly due to him wanting to prove to Dorticos that he wasn’t going to be knocked out in that round like he’d predicted for him. Dorticos tried though. He landed a lot of right hands in the 6th, but the shots had no effect on Gassiev. He either blocked them or he took them, and kept coming forward to land his hooks to the body and uppercuts. The uppercuts were especially problematic for Dorticos, as they snapped his head back and seemed to wear him down.

“They have done an amazing job with him,” Gassiev said of Dorticos. “He’s a tremendous fighter and he has a very heavy punch. This is the heavyweight division. Until the last moment, you don’t know who can come out as the winner. The way the fight went in my favor today, I could have just as easy gone the other way. This is a professional sport. I hope he’s OK, and he didn’t have any injuries and he’s going to come back and have a successful career,” Gassiev said.

As long as Dorticos’ punch resistance wasn’t impacted from last Saturday’s fight with Gassiev, he should be able to come back and compete for one of the cruiserweight world titles soon once the winner of the World Boxing Super Series tournament vacates their 4 titles and moves up to heavyweight. Usyk, 31, has also said that he’s going to move up to heavyweight after the tournament is over if he wins it. Usyk wants a title shot against Joshua too. Whether Usyk or Gassiev wins the WBSS tournament, they’re going to vacate the 4 titles and move up in weight. This means Dorticos will have a chance to fight the likes of Mairis Briedis, Denis Lebedev, Gassiev, Usyk, Krzystof Glowacki or Maxim Vlasov for one of the cruiserweight world titles. I included Usyk and Gassiev’s names, as the loser of the Usyk vs. Gassiev fight might still stay at cruiserweight. My guess is they’ll move up to heavyweight anyway, but there’s a chance they could stay at cruiserweight if they lose badly in the WBSS finals on May 11.

“I think this is going to be another great fight for the fans in Russia, in Ukraine and the world,” Gassiev said about his May 11th fight against Oleksandr Usyk in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series in Jeddah, Russia. “I think we’ll be able to bring an amazing performance.”

Gassiev has got know what he needs to do for him to beat Usyk. Gassiev cannot fight the same way he did against Dorticos if he wants to win that fight. Usyk, 6’3”, is rangier than Dorticos, and he bounces around the ring a lot more. Usyk is likely not going to be quite as stationary as Dorticos was last Saturday. Mairis Briedis made sure that he constantly was moving forward, cutting off the ring and attacking Usyk in their semifinals contest in the WBSS tournament on January 27th in Riga, Latvia. Gassiev can’t let Usyk be the one that is attacking and pressuring like he did with Dorticos. That would be a mistake, because Usyk will bury him with combinations if he’s allowed to take charge of the fight.

Gassiev’s trainer Abel Sanchez revealed at the post-fight press conference that the game plan was for Gassiev not to attack Dorticos early in the fight due to the high risk of him getting hurt with one of the Cuban’s big shots. Sanchez had Gassiev wait until Dorticos began to tire a little before he started attacking him. However, Dorticos’ punching power still seemed to be excellent even in the later rounds, so Gassiev accomplished nothing by not attacking the Cuban fighter in the first 4 rounds. Sanchez would be wise not to have Gassiev give away he first 4 rounds against Usyk, because he may give up any chances he has of winning the fight if he takes that approach. One of Sanchez’s other fighters middleweight champion Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin made the mistake of starting slowly against Saul Canelo Alvarez in their fight on September 16th last year. Golovkin just let Canelo win the first 2 rounds without even trying to press him. You have to wonder whether Sanchez had a play in Golovkin starting slowly in this fight like he did with Gassiev’s poor start against Dorticos. Sanchez hopefully understands that he cannot let Gassiev start out slowly against Usyk. If he does that, he may never make up the lost ground to come back to win the fight.

“I respectfully disagree with Yunier Dorticos,” Gassiev’s trainer Abel Sanchez said. “He disappointed nobody. I think the fans are extremely proud of him. I think this is the type of fight that will be remembered. He fought a great fight. Certainly things went according to plan. I have another young man in the gym Gennady Golovkin that fought a great fight against another big puncher several years ago, and he fought the same type of fight that it has to be at the beginning. It had to be like that when Golovkin fought Lemieux. He had to box him because he’s a very strong puncher, a very strong fighter, but everything went according to plan. We were going to catch up to him and hurt him,” Sanchez said about Dorticos. “We hurt him a couple of times in the middle rounds. I didn’t think it was going to happen towards the end, but I think that the pace and the punches thrown, they were both tired out. You could see they were both worn out. Murat happened to land the best punch, but he fought a great fight,” Sanchez said.

The punch that Gassiev hurt Dorticos with in the 12th, a hard left hook, would have put him down at any point in the fight. It was a perfectly thrown power shot. It was the kind of devastating shot that we’d seen Gassiev knockout many of his previous opponents. To Dorticos’ credit, he got up from the knockdown and continued to fight. I don’t know how Dorticos was able to continue to fight after that knockdown, because his legs were totally gone. Gassiev dropped Dorticos for a second time almost right away. Gassiev wasn’t gassed out. He was still able to land with huge power, and there was no way that Dorticos was going to be able to keep from getting hit hard a second time.

“It was a hard fight,” Gassiev said. “It was painful at times, and 12 rounds is not easy. It’s not easy to go the full 12 rounds. There were some mistakes that I’ll be learning from. I’ve got to go back to the gym after I rest, and look at improving. Yunioer Dorticos has the heart of a warrior. He wasn’t backing away. He wasn’t backing down. He kept fighting back,” Gassiev said.

Gassiev was hit hard a lot by Dorticos. Gassiev’s forehead was an angry red color by the end of the fight. During the post-fight press conference, Gassiev was seen icing his forehead throughout. Dorticos had a bruised left eye. Other than that, he didn’t look too marked up from the heavy shots that Gassiev had hit him with. Many of Gassiev’s best shots in the fight were uppercuts that landed under Dorticos’ chin. Those weren’t the type of punches that were going to leave visible bruises or reddening like we saw on Gassiev’s forehead.

“I plan on coming back,” Dorticos said. “Like I said, once the tournament is over, whomever wins regardless, I would like to have a rematch with Gassiev. It was an amazing fight for everybody,” Dorticos said.

I doubt that Dorticos will get a shot at the winner or the loser of the Usyk vs. Gassiev fight. Dorticos’s best bet is to go after one of the 4 cruiserweight world titles as soon as the Usky-Gassiev winner vacates them. There will be 4 titles for Dorticos to pick from, and he’ll get a shot at one of the titles. Briedis would be a tough fight for Dorticos to take after the punishment that he absorbed against Gassiev, but it would be an interesting match-up for the boxing fans. Dorticos vs. Lebedev or Glowacki would also be very interesting. I think it’s more likely that Briedis will wind up facing Glowacki for the WBC cruiserweight belt if the Usyk-Gassiev winner vacates the title. Glowacki is ranked No.1 with the WBC. For some reason, the WBC has dropped Briedis from their top 15 ranking, so it’s possible that Glowacki would contest with #2 Andrew Tabiti for the vacant WBC title. That’s a potential mismatch. Tabiti is a very raw fighter, who doesn’t look anywhere near the same level as the top guys in the cruiserweight division.

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