Last summer we had for the first time in over a decade an undisputed unified world champion. Terence Crawford destroyed Julius Indongo in just three rounds in doing so he not only unified all four major straps but replaced Andre Ward as the P4P king. Crawford vacated all for 140-pound belts and jumped up to the glamours welterweight division and captured a title there. We are less than two weeks away from crowing another undisputed world champion. We will not make an official fight prediction just yet but we will make a few other predictions. The fight will be mainly undiscussed and largely unnoticed in the US. It is not on television and is only available to fight fans in the US via streaming it live on the WBSS website. It will not be mentioned on ESPN no SportsCenter highlights. However, just like Crawford who unified and then jumped up into a glamour division and captured a crown there, the winner will do the same year. The winner will be a heavyweight champ and so will the loser. Both Usyk and Gassiev, in our humble opinion will at some point sport heavyweight world titles.
Oleksandr Usyk is currently ranked #7 on our pound for pound list. He is a massively large and massively skilled cruiserweight who we rank from a skill level as the second best cruiser behind only the legendary Evander Holyfield who also unified the division back in the 1980’s. Usyk a native of Kiev, Ukraine is one of the largest Cruisers to come along in quite some time and is quite a wonder how the 6’3 Usyk shrinks down to the 200lb cruiserweight limit. Usyk sports a perfect 14-0 record with 11 knockouts. In just 14 pro fights he has unified two belts and not only has wins over Mairis Briedis and Marco Huck in the WBSS, he also has wins over Krzysztof Glowacki and Michael Hunter. A very impressive resume for someone who turned pro less than five years ago. Usky already has the size to be a heavyweight, we would imagine if he doesnt have to cut weight he would outweigh Deontay Wilder who weighed 214lbs in his last outing although that is unclear what is clear as day is that he would have a skill advantage over the bronze bomber. Usyk posses perfect footwork excellent foot speed and hand speed. He throws quick, clean combinations with power in each hand. With the ability to land in the button which, will help if there are any questions on how his power will translate if and when he jumps up to heavyweight. He would be hands down the most skilled heavyweight in the division. A skilled southpaw who can punch and make you miss is never the top of anyone’s list on the type of fighter they would like to fight next. But, that’s exactly what Usyk posses.
Murat Gassiev who now holds both the IBF & WBA cruiserweight belts has emerged onto the scene from being largely unknown to the general boxing public in the US to now on the verge of stardom. He is currently ranked just outside of our top 10 pound for pound list and is in the next 3 categories. He has played the role of spoiler in upsetting Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in New Jersey in front of a largely polish crowd and then stopped Cuban puncher Yunier Dorticos, who after Dorticos’s knockout of the year stoppage of Dmitry Kudryashov was picked by many to with the whole tournament. Gassiev took the Cuban’s best shot and stopped him late. Setting up his undisputed unification showdown with Usyk. Gassiev has already shown that he has the chin to move up he also has the size. The 6’4 Russian had weighed in as much as 207lbs for a fight three years ago against Rodney Moore in California. He was just 21 at the time so it stands to reason that the kid has filled out as his body has matured in the three years since. The truth is Gassiev is 6’4 and has the makeup to be the heavyweight champ he certainly has the skills but also has the body type. 6’4 with a 76-inch reach and at just 24 years-old, still a baby he has the time to fill out into a fairly big heavyweight. Gassiev is a fundamentally sound fighter, not overly athletic but athletic enough he has great spacing has a shotgun jab that he uses to set up a huge right hand that will have no problem translating at the heavyweight division he’s a puncher at cruiser, he will be a puncher at heavyweight.
We are less than two weeks away from crowing another undisputed champion, both Usyk and Gassiev ahve a bright future and this will not be the last time either fighter holds a world title. The Usyk/Gassiev unification bout has really gone unnoticed but certainly has the ability to be the fight of the year in the ring and is probably the best fight to take place this year. Each fighter a unified world champion that is ranked, let’s say. without a doubt in the top 15 pound for pound in the world. The fight, especially in America may not get the hype and publicity it deserves it will however certainly produce a p4p superstar regardless of who wins, and perhaps two future heavyweight champs.