There’s a lack of fanfare outside of Europe for the World Boxing Super Series Final between cruiserweights Oleksandr Usyk (14-0, 11 KOs) and Murat Gassiev (26-0, 19 KOs) and that’s too bad, because this will be a sensational fight.
Unfortunately, the bout is available stateside only on something called KlowdTV and will take place at 3 p.m. ET. It’s a shame that this fight will likely go unnoticed, because it features two of the world’s best pugilists, and the winner will be named the unified champion at 200 pounds, as they each hold two belts coming into the brawl. In other words, if you fancy yourself some mid-afternoon action on Saturday, you can’t do much better than this. So let’s break it down.
At the time of writing (2:30 p.m. ET on Friday) this fight is basically a pick ’em. At 5Dimes, Gassiev is a slight -115 favorite, with Usyk coming back at -105. It is unbelievable to see Gassiev favored right now because, back when betting opened for this fight in February, Usyk was a -275 favorite with Gassiev priced at +205.
Interestingly, the line started to plummet about a month ago — with money pouring in on Gassiev in June — and has settled in the pick range over the past few days. It should be noted, if not taken into serious consideration, that this fight was originally supposed to take place in Saudi Arabia but was moved to Russia, Gassiev’s home country.
>> Sign up for The Action Network’s daily newsletter to get the smartest conversation delivered into your inbox each morning.
The over/under is at 9.5 rounds, but the bookies are expecting this one to go long, as the over is juiced at -380.
Oleksandr “The Cat” Usyk was the favorite to win the WBSS Cruiserweight tournament when it was first announced back in 2017. Since then, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist took care of Marco Huck (TKO, 10) and Mairis Briedis (majority decision).
The Ukrainian’s resume is impressive, and his skill set backs it up. The 31-year-old southpaw has a great jab, fantastic movement and a terrific chin. Of the two fighters, he’s clearly the better tactician, although the edge in power will go to Gassiev.
Even though Gassiev will have the “home-field advantage,” this is nothing new for Usyk, who went to Riga, Latvia to defeat Briedis. Against Briedis it took Usyk a few rounds to get warmed up, and the first part of the fight belonged to the Latvian. Even so, Usyk was never fazed and found his groove by dominating the middle rounds.
There isn’t a fighting style that Usyk hasn’t seen, and he won’t be uncomfortable trading shots with Gassiev. Nevertheless, I suspect his game plan will be to use his jab and movement to get in and out against the Russian.
Trained by Dr. Abel Sanchez (who also trains Gennady “GGG” Golovkin), Gassiev is a rare breed in boxing. The 24-year-old nicknamed “Iron” may have more professional bouts to his name, but his amateur pedigree was pretty much nonexistent, as he fought only 25 times before turning pro.
Despite his lack of experience, Gassiev is trained by one of the very best in the world, and Sanchez wouldn’t have brought him to Big Bear if he wasn’t a rising star.
Gassiev’s trademark is the thunder he has in his mitts. He can do serious damage to the head and body. His best win came as an underdog against Denis Lebedev to win the IBF and WBA Cruiserweight titles.
Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Murat Gassiev.
In that fight, “Iron” burst onto the scene by landing — and absorbing — blow after blow. There is no fear in his game, as the Russian knockout artist prefers to walk through punches in order to land some of his own.
Gassiev will be the less-polished fighter in the ring on Saturday, but he has a clear edge in the power department, and it’s hard to imagine Usyk being able to knock him out.
As the odds suggest, it’s hard to separate these two fighters. Usyk’s all-around game is better, and if this fight wasn’t taking place in Russia, I’d be leaning his way. The concern with backing Usyk is that if he wins, it will likely be by outpointing his opponent, whereas Gassiev’s power is his ticket to the title.
In other words, Usyk is going to need to be lights out to convince the judges to give him the fight, and he has that ability, but it’s a big ask. Thus, I actually think there’s some value on the draw (+2000 at BetOnline).
(Boxing Record: 10-5-1, +17.75 units)