Usyk Dominates Gassiev, Takes Ali Trophy in WBSS Finale



Usyk Dominates Gassiev, Takes Ali Trophy in WBSS Finale

To say that it was easy work isn’t fair.

Alexander Usyk made it look like easy work on Saturday when in the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight finale he won just about every second of all 12 rounds against foe Murat Gassiev.

To say that this didn’t play out as the majority of fans and pundits expected is a severe under statement. Gassiev’s power edge was never a factor, as the Ukrainian Usyk’s ring generalship from second one showed him to be a pound for pound ace, and a master craftsman. By scores of 120-108, 119-108, 119-108 the judges got it right; it would have been a grotesque felony and maybe killed the sport for good if the judges labeled Gassiev the winner.

Gassiev didn’t push the 31 year old Usyk (15-0 with 11 Kos)  and take part in a Fight of the Year candidate, because he wasn’t able to get past a mobility edge. He was a step behind, sometimes two, as Usyk’s volume proved too daunting round after round after round. But it wasn't EASY WORK, Usyk just made it look so. Using the Lomachenko Method, sacrificing power in order to ensure volume and maintain balance, he was controlling the action from the anthems onward.

A right cross or two, some left hooks to the body, they landed, but the lefty Usyk’s defensive steadiness made the Russian unable to activate anything more than a few seconds of being in control at a time.

Would the Ukrainain, who holds all the cruiser straps now, slow down? Would he finally feel some lead in the legs, and enable Gassiev (26-1; 24 years old) to bang away? Not one stitch.

This was Usyk’s night in Moscow and if you thought maybe his accumulated experience as an amateur was finally sapping his skills after watching him in the WBSS semi-final, then you had to adjust your POV.


Some will see this outing as more so about Gassiev’s limitations than Usyk’s upsides, and yes, Gassiev’s lack of a reliable jab to get inside and to interrupt the rhythm of a foe didn’t do him favors. But really, Usyk deserves all the props and that Ali Trophy, which was handed over by Muhammad’s wife Lonnie in that ring in Moscow. Fairly fitting, as his skills were of the highest caliber, and even the Greatest would have said the same.


Ukrainian Aleksandr Usyk made history by beating Russian rival Murat Gassiev by a unanimous decision to become the first man to hold the Muhammad Ali Trophy and all four world cruiserweight titles.

The pair went the distance in front of 24,000 spectators at the Olimpiyskiy Sports Complex in, Moscow but it was Usyk who had the edge.

Gassiev landed some heavy body shots in the beginning but started to tire and the Ukrainian was by far the most dominant in the later rounds.

Usyk promised before Saturday’s final ‘a beautiful fight’ and for Usyk, it was indeed a showcase of skills with the victory establishing him among the best fighters in the world.

“Usyk fought an amazing fight and I think that Usyk today is the best pound for pound boxer in the world and a worthy winner of the Muhammad Ali Trophy,” said Kalle Sauerland, Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer.

“Moscow, 2018. Bang! Daddy's in the building,” said an ecstatic Usyk after the fight.

The judges scored the fight – 120-108, 119-109 and 119-109 for Usyk, who happens to share the same birthday, Jan. 17, with Ali.

“To win all four belts and the Muhammad Ali Trophy is a dream coming true. It is no secret that Muhammad Ali is my biggest idol so this is a great honour,” said Usyk after the fight.

“I’m not a superstar, stars are in the sky. Just an ordinary guy, who is doing something well.”

“My team made me look like I looked in the ring. This is our victory. I will keep this trophy at a special place in my home because my beloved wife, Katarina, has already prepared a special place for it.”

Usyk and Gassiev embraced warmly after the fight with broad smiles on their faces.
“I had the best opponent in my professional career,” said Gassiev.

“I did my best, but today it was Aleksandr's day. Aleksandr was the favorite, and he proved it. This was a very good experience for me.”

Lonnie Ali, the wife of the late heavyweight icon Muhammad Ali, was guest of honour while watching Usyk-Gassiev live at the Olimpiyskiy Sports Complex and after the fight, she revealed and awarded the winner with the Muhammad Ali Trophy, The Greatest Prize in Boxing.

Founder/editor Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the then-impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist has covered the sport since for ESPN The Magazine,, Bad Left Hook and RING. His journalism career started with NY Newsday in 1999. Michael Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live, since 2017.