“He will lose.”
—IBF cruiserweight champion “Iron” Murat Gassiev, on what will happen to former IBF/WBC cruiserweight champion Krzysztof Wlodarcyzk at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ this Saturday night.
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In the quarterfinals of the brilliant World Boxing Super Series, we're basically getting a divisional “Lord of The Rings” to terminate irrelevance at 190. If there is a dark Frodo in this tournament, one likely to survive the perils of an elite field in pursuit of something beyond burning RING recognition, it would be Gassiev.
To be an ardent fan of boxing, is to be in an abusive relationship– deliberately. The cruiserweight division is adjacent to being the mistress never kissed or considered until she's fucking someone you considered irrelevant. Its always the quiet ones that make the most noise, finally.
How something like this happened to cruiserweight– which can revolutionize all of boxing around the world — started coming into view after a ride on the NYC ferry Jersey, as representatives from Sauerland Promotions and a resurgently embattled Richard Schaefer was spotted.
Depending on how its viewed, this alliance can either potentially bring outlets such as Golden Boy, Top Rank and Premier Boxing Champions to their knees- or just foster an alliance that works for everyone.
It's also not everyday you're seated next to someone at the Everlast Lab in Hoboken, NJ who knows Jewish oligarchs worth over 700 million with a visionary passion for boxing. The kind capable of reinjecting life into a super middleweight division that once made Andre Ward legend, and the term “Super Six” part of boxing lore. The kind capable of making the cruiserweight division marriage material.
Power is rooted in a physical presence we covet, which translates into a glamour and an allure; if it can be harnessed, it'll manifest into an aroma that cannot be ignored. People can then feel the chemical effect it has on them. They become captivated. These are all of the things people feel when they acquire a ‘favorite fighter', one they'll risk their lives for in a barbershop.
Gennady “GGG” Golovkin is a perfect example of this type of pugilistic creation, with the hope that “Iron” Murat Gassiev will follow a similar trajectory, albeit, in a very different way.
At just 24, Gassiev only had 25 amateur fights compared to Golovkin's Olympic sized portion of roughly 400. He is unbeaten at 24-0 (17KOs) and guided by Triple G architect Abel Sanchez, who has downloaded the blueprint. The percentage of data in multiple categories is still loading– but the raw power is there. Gassiev is Mike Tyson on Xanax, with stoic thunder that strikes like lightning. Witness Iron Murat's chilling evisceration of Jordan Shimmell for a clue.
But getting past the lengthy Polish version of Popeye in Wlodarcyzk (53-3-1, 37KOs), a fierce competitor of championship experience from the Steve Cunningham era back in 2006, will not be easy. Afterall, there's 50 million dollars worth of spinach on the line to be divied up; but at 36, Gassiev is likely to be too much Brutus for the hardcore veteran.
In the semifinals, brash WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk from Ukraine (12-0, 10KOs) will face WBC champion Mairis Breidis (23-0, 18KOs) from Latvia. All Usyk had to do was beat Germany's former division kingpin Marco Huck, while Breidis outlasted slick Cuban stylist Mike Perez.
If Gassiev prevails as expected, he'll have to confront the athletic and powerful interim WBA champion Yunier Dorticos (21-0, 20KOs) in the other semifinals. Dorticos annihilated Russia's formerly unbeaten KO machine Dmitry Kudryashov via 2nd round KO. A bout between Gassiev and the ultra-talented Dorticos could be the tournament's best, for Iron Murat and the Cuban sensation have engaged in tremendous gym wars and know each other well.
That prospect aside, the cruiserweights have arrived in grand style, owed to a WBSS format that will eliminate all sanctioning body ‘BS' in declaring an undisputed champion. In a touch of class, the victor will be awarded the Muhammad Ali Trophy (similar to the NFL and its Vince Lombardi Trophy), who before he died, was gracious in his approval.
“So are you the first ‘next GGG', or the last ‘next Tyson' Murat?” I asked Gassiev, at end of his light media workout on Wednesday.
In perfect English, heavily accented and sprinkled with Russian, the cruiserweight interpolation of Golovkin uttered the perfect response. “I am something from some behind me and a lot for anyone in front of me… You will see,” said Gassiev with a smile.