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Murat Gassiev NOT fighting on February 29

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By Sean Jones: Former IBF/WBA cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev won’t be fighting on February 29 as planned on the DAZN card at The Star in Frisco, Texas. According to TASS, they were informed by a member of Gassiev’s team that he won’t be fighting on February 29 due to him not being ready.

This still needs to be confirmed by Gassiev’s promoters at Matchroom Boxing USA that he’s officially off the February 29 card.

The 26-year-old Russian Gassiev (26-1, 19 KOs) hasn’t fought in 19 months since his defeat to Oleksandr Usyk on July 21, 2018. Murat has a shoulder problem that has kept him from fighting.

Gassiev not ready to fight

Gassiev was supposed to be fighting American Jerry Forrest (26-3, 20 KOs) in a 10 round bout in his heavyweight debut on the Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas card on DAZN in Frisco, Texas. This would have been Gassiev’s first fight with his new promoters at Matchroom Boxing USA.

The fight will not take place. There are many questions from the fact that Murat was not ready as it should, to the fact that there were questions under the contract,” the source said to Tass.

Isn’t the first time Gassiev has had his comeback delayed, but unfortunately for him it comes at a bad time. The February 29th card headlined by Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas will be seen by a lot of boxing fans in the U.S.

It would have been a great opportunity for Gassiev to showcase his talent against a quality opponent. Obviously, if Gassiev isn’t 100%, it would be a bad idea for him to face a puncher like Forrest, who recently gave unbeaten prospect Jermaine Franklin a tough time in a losing effort last July. Forrest lost a 10 round split decision.

Murat Gassiev’s lack of size will be a problem

When Gassiev does eventually resume his career, he’ll be attempting to reinvent himself at heavyweight. The 6’3″ Gassiev has got the punching power, but his height could be a limiting factor. But even if Gassiev never wins a world title at heavyweight, he can still do well if he can get 2 or 3 titles shots during his career.

Alexander Povetkin is a perfect example of a small heavyweight that has done despite not having the size to beat the super heavyweights like Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua. Former IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO cruiserweight champion Usyk is on the verge of challenging Joshua for his titles in 2020, and he’ll get a massive payday in that fight.

Usyk won’t be required to work his way to a world title shot at heavyweight. The World Boxing Association gave Usyk the mandatory spot with their organization without him having ever fought in the division, so he won’t need to take risky fights before fighting Joshua.

Usyk didn’t look good in his heavyweight debut against Chazz Witherspoon, but he got the victory. He’ll next be fighting Dereck Chisora in what amounts to be a stay busy fight while he waits for Joshua to defend against his IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev.

Unfortunately for Gassiev, he won’t have a title shot given to him on a silver platter like Usyk, but with careful match-making by his promoter Eddie Hearn, he should be able to quickly get an opportunity to fight for a world title belt. What could hurt Gassiev’s chances of doing that is whether he can stay injury-free long enough to get ranked in the division.

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