WBSS: 5 Titles Between Usyk and Gassiev
The Ring magazine’s cruiserweight title has been vacant since Yoan Pablo Hernandez retired on September 29, 2015. So Aussie boxing fans following the inaugural World Boxing Super Series will be keen to see the title claimed again on May 11 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, when Oleksandr Usyk fights Murat Gassiev – especially as the WBSS final will also unify four other cruiserweight belts in the possession of one champion.
Usyk, the 31-year-old Ukrainian nicknamed “The Cat”, has held the WBO world cruiserweight title since 2016, and he added the WBC equivalent last month. The Ring ranks him the best active cruiserweight fighter in the world, and he comes to the WBSS final via a 10th-round TKO against Germany’s Marco Huck in the quarterfinals, and a semifinals majority-decision victory against Mairis Briedis of Latvia.
Gassiev currently holds the IBF and WBA Super cruiserweight belts, so at the conclusion of the WBSS cruiserweight final in Jeddah, either he or Usyk will will hold all five titles. Gassiev beat Poland’s Krzysztof Woldarczyk in a third-round KO and Cuba’s Yunier Dorticos in a 12th-round TKO to make the WBSS final.
The undefeated Russian 24-year-old with 19 KOs in his 26 wins certainly has the punching power to put Usyk’s lights out. However, there are 11 KOs on the Ukrainian’s 14-from-14 record, so that goes both ways. Usyk’s the favourite in the betting odds, but this is one bout that could deliver a big upset.
More Belts Unifying in Super Middleweight Division
The finalists in the WBSS super middleweight division have not yet been determined, but the semifinals nevertheless unify another two titles. Chris Eubank Jr is the current IBO champion, and after knocking out Turkey’s Avni Yildirim in the third round in the QFs, he remains the tournament favourite.
His semifinal opponent on February 17 in the Manchester Arena is a fellow Brit, “St George” Groves, who holds the WBA Super belt in the division. Groves knocked out another UK fighter, Jamie Cox, in the fourth round of their QF.
The other semifinal features yet another Brit, Callum Smith, against Germany’s Jurgen Brahmer. It’s scheduled for February 24 in Nurnberg, Germany.
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