The 12,000-seat Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi, Russia, hosted the second semi-final match in the cruiserweight tournament of the World Boxing Super Series. Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos, both undefeated, met with the IBF and WBA titles at stake.
Pundits were expecting a short fight as Gassiev and Dorticos made short work of their first round opponents and were rated the two hardest punchers in the division. What transpired was a crowd-pleasing fight that lasted into the final round before Gassiev brought down the curtain. There was no TV in the United States, but a free livestream with a British broadcaster at the mic was readily available, an unexpected late Christmas present for U.S. boxing fans.
With his Big Bear stablemate Gennady Golovkin cheering him on and WBC/WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk an interested spectator, Gassiev began the contest fighting on his back foot, uncharacteristic of him. Dorticos, the Cuban expatriate from Miami, stalked him and was the busier fighter, but the tone of the fight changed at the end of the fifth round when Gassiev hurt him with a combination. That got Dorticos’ attention and it was he who devolved from predator to prey during much of the second half of the contest.
Gassiev’s nickname is “Iron,” but Dorticos proved to have an iron chin until the fateful 12th when he went down hard from a picture perfect left hook. He beat the count, but Gassiev was on him in a flash and knocked him down twice more before the bout was halted. The third knockdown, as much a shove as a punch, sent Dorticos sprawling through the ropes.
Gassiev improved to 26-0 (19). He moves on the finals where he will meet the aforementioned Usyk. The match will be held at an as yet undetermined date in May, reportedly in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It was the first pro loss for Dorticos (22-1, 21 KOs) who hadn’t previously gone past the 10th round.
In a 12-round cruiserweight contest, Maksin Vlasov (42-2, 25 KOs) made a strong showing, dominating Nigeria’s Olanrewaju Durodola for 10 rounds before Durodola quit on his stool. Vlasov has won 12 straight since losing a 10-round decision to future IBF super middleweight champion Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez in January of 2015 at Broomfield, Colorado.
In a 12-round lightweight contest, Russia’s Roman Andreev (21-0, 15 KOs) scored a ninth round stoppage of Craig Evans (17-2-2). Andreev pressed the action and had more steam in his punches. A series of combinations beginning with a right uppercut spelled the end for the game Welshman. Andreev reportedly has his sights set on the winner of the forthcoming match in Reno between Ray Beltran and Paulus Moses.
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