Murat Gassiev signs with Matchroom Boxing
By Trevor McIntyre: Matchroom Boxing USA promoter Eddie Hearn has signed former IBF/WBA cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev (26-1, 19 KOs) to a contract with his company. The 25-year-old Gassiev will be making his heavyweight debut in June to fight against a still to be determined opponent on DAZN.
Murat Gassiev WON’T be used as Joshua’s opponent for June 1
Some boxing fans have gotten excited with the signing of the 6’3″ Russian Gassiev, as they’d like to see him step in as the replacement opponent for IBF/WBA/WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) for his U.S debut on June 1 on DAZN and Sky Box Office at Madison Square Garden in New York. However, Hearn wouldn’t throw Gassiev in with Joshua with him having zero experience at the heavyweight level, and coming off of an 11th month layoff from the ring. There are too many things going against Gassiev being used for Joshua’s replacement opponent. Additionally, Hearn would take flak from boxing fans for using one of his own fighters for Joshua’s next fight after rejecting the idea of having unbeaten Joe Joyce (8-0, 8 KOs) face AJ on June. Hearn said he doesn’t see Joyce as a world class contender at heavyweight, and he feels that Manuel Charr is a better option for Joshua. Gassiev will almost surely be used by Hearn as an opponent for Joshua at some point in the future though, as long as the Russian fighter proves that he can fight at a high level in the heavyweight division. Hearn isn’t going to match Gassiev against Joshua if he’s floundering.
“Delighted to announce the signing of unified Cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev – making the move to the heavyweight division in June! @DAZN_USA @Sky Sports Boxing #warriors #ural,” Eddie Hearn said on his Twitter.
Before losing to Oleksandr Usyk by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision in the final of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament on July 21 last year in Moscow, Russia, Gassiev defeated “KO Doctor” Yunier Dorticos (23-1, 21 KOs) by a 12th round knockout in the semifinal of the WBSS tournament last year on February 3 in Adler, Russia. Before that, Gassiev stopped former IBF/WBC cruierweight champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (57-4-1, 37 KOs) by a third round knockout in the quarterfinal of the World Boxing Super Series tournament on October 21, 2017 in New Jersey. Gassiev captured the IBF cruiserweight title in beating Denis Lebedev by a 12 round split decision in December 2016. Lebedev gave Gassiev problems by throwing a lot of punches in each round. You can argue that Lebedev created the blueprint in how to beat Gassiev by throwing nonstop punches, even though he didn’t win.
“I am very happy to announce the beginning of cooperation between my promoters, URAL and Warriors with Matchroom Boxing USA and DAZN,” said Gassiev. “I am confident that this cooperation will bring great results. I want to make all my fans around the world happy and realize my full potential in the exciting Heavyweight division.”
Gassiev joins undisputed crusierweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) with Matchroom at heavyweight. Hearn has been collecting a lot of top fighters from the cruiserweight recently. He also recently inked former cruiserweight world title challenger Michael Hunter (16-1, 11 KOs) to his Matchroom Boxing USA-DAZN stable. Hunter lost then WBO cruiserweight champion Usyk by a 12 round unanimous decision on April 8, 2017 in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The scores were 117-110, 117-110 and 117-110. Hunter did a far better job against Usyk than Gassiev did in losing a 12 round decision. Gassiev looked confused against Usyk, and was never able to make an adjustment to deal with the frequent jabs he was throwing at him. Usyk looked like he wasn’t trying to even hit Gassiev. He just wanted to give him something to think about to keep from attacking him.
Hearn is collecting heavyweights almost like someone collecting old fashioned bubblegum baseball cards. Hearn has the following heavyweights as part of his Matchroom Boxing stable now: Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk, Dillian Whyte, Dereck Chisora, David Allen, Filip Hrgovic, Zhilei Zhang, Murat Gassiev and Michael Hunter. Hearn wanted to sign Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, but he couldn’t get them. The lure for the heavyweights to sign with Hearn is an obvious one. If they bide their time and keep winning long enough, they could get lucky and get title shot against Joshua, and end up set for life with the big payday they get from that match. With any luck, Gassiev will wind up getting a big money fight against Joshua too.
“I’m delighted to welcome Murat to the team,” said Hearn. “Having unified the division at Cruiserweight, I feel Murat is a very exciting addition to the Heavyweight division and what a fantastic time to join it. We have lots of fights ready made for him and I can’t wait to see him fighting at Heavyweight very soon.”
Gassiev always looked like a heavyweight when he was fighting in the cruisrweight division. He had the punching power of a heavyweight. The thing that could hurt Gassiev’s chances of making a big dent in the heavyweight division is his lack of size, his slow, plodding style of fighting, and the fact that he’s not good at making adjustments. Usyk didn’t do anything special in beating Gassiev in the final of the WBSS tournament. Usyk just stood back and threw simple jabs at Gassiev, which held him off. Almost any heavyweight could do the same thing and likely have success against Gassiev. Even a journeyman level heavyweight with a good jab would give Gassiev problems. Someone like Kevin “Kingpin” Johnson would be a problem for Gassiev if he doesn’t learn how to get passed a jab.
At this point, Gassiev has to be viewed as a raw project despite the fact that he’s a former IBF/WBA cruiserweight champion. At heavyweight, it’s a different story. The guys are bigger, and they’re capable of controlling limited fighters with a jab. Gassiev will need to learn a lot for him to have a shot at making it big at heavyweight. He’s trained by Abel Sanchez, the coach that has trained former IBF/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin since 2012. Sanchez has a lot of work cut out for him if he wants to turn Gassiev into a good heavyweight.