(MOSCOW) “The Greatest” would have been proud. New undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksander Usyk (15-0, 11KOs), the first ever, presented “Iron” Murat Gassiev (26-1, 19KOs) with a 200 lb version of Vasyl Lomachenko to become the first World Boxing Super Series tournament winner and recipient of the Muhammad Ali trophy.
In very classy fashion, boxing's own version of a World Cup was presented to Usyk by the champ's widow Lonnie Ali.
Inside a partisan, glamorous Olympiasky Stadium loaded with pageantry and Russian pride, the Ukrainian road warrior made himself right at home with a textbook boxing performance to earn a 12-round UD. I had it 118-110 Usyk, whose only moment of peril came near the end of round 4 after a monster Gassiev straight right. With spectacular conditioning, athleticism, movement and rapid fire volume, Gassiev had absolutely no answers for an Usyk that kept sending him back to the corner and trainer Abel Sanchez with question marks all over his face. Usyk nearly threw an almost obscene 1000 punches, outpacing Gassiev's total by around 600. Usyk also outlanded a painfully conservative Gassiev, too concerned with landing anything he unleashed, by an astonishing 3 to 1 ratio.
When really processing Gassiev's stout and rugged constitution along with his overall game, a 1940's portrait of Rocky Marciano begins to surface. Since a fighter is only as good as his last fight, thoughts of Marciano's come-from-behind demolition of Jersey Joe Walcott came to mind for this fight, considering how ordinary (and vulnerable) Usyk looked against Mairis Breidis in January. Meanwhile, Gassiev was blowing up the explosive Yunier Dorticos weeks later in Sochi, Russia.
But Usyk, an ultra proud warrior obsessed with perfection who trains three times a day, was pissed off over the preparation and outcome for Breidis, which lead to a notable change for Gassiev. Enter long-time cutman Russ Abner, who was brought into the fold of Team Lomachenko prior to his war with Jorge Linares, after convincing Loma that his brand of sage was invaluable. This was right around the time he'd left an indelible impression on Usyk, becoming more of a consultant for the self-motivated Usyk, which lead to the ouster of coach and friend Serhiy Vatamanyuk.
Undoubtedly cheering this flawless performance, somewhere, was Super Six alumni superstar and former world #1 Andre Ward. The 2004 Olympic gold medalist had to be impressed by the 2012 gold medalist from the London games, who arguably overcame a fiercer field and circumstances in pursuit of history. Usyk had to defeat Michael Hunter, Marco Huck, Breidis and Gassiev to win this tournament. If we're really keeping score, all were unbeaten with the exception of the experienced and dangerous Huck. Throw in Usyk going to America to beat Hunter, Germany to beat Huck, Latvia to beat Breidis and Russia to beat Gassiev, and we have the definition of not only a true world champion, but what should be a pound-for-pound top 5 fighter from a RING Magazine staff with some work to do (and let's not forget he claimed that title as well).
The 31 year-old Usyk wants former cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew to stop acting like a loud mouthed Pretty Ricky Conlan from “Creed” and to make himself available for his first defense. That, or he'll come to heavyweight to face Bellew– or anyone else among the big boys. Facts.