With the victory, Gassiev sets up a WBSS cruiserweight semi-final showdown with WBA champion Yunier Dorticos, who was in attendance Saturday night.
“Dorticos is a very good fighter with great experience,” said Gassiev. “He’s undefeated and I can’t wait to give all the boxing fans the big gift of a great fight against Dorticos.”
“I really wanted Gassiev to win, because he’s going to taste the power of a real man against me,” said Dorticos. “His opponent tonight was past his time. I’m ready to show him what a champion looks like and give him a challenge he’s never faced before. I want to take his belt. I want to get in the ring and destroy Gassiev.”
Gassiev stalked his opponent around the ring for much of the three round fight, looking to land a big combination while Wlodarczyk was steadfastly in retreat mode. The former two-time champion threw very little other than his jab and was unable to break through and hurt Gassiev at any point in the action.
In round three, Gassiev closed the distance and began to land on Wlodarczyk eventually shooting a left uppercut and then left hook to the body combo that ended with Wlodaczyk laying on the canvas. Referee Albert Brown officially counted Wlodarczyk out at 1:57 of the third round.
“I had a great opponent tonight,” said Gassiev. “I prepared myself for a tough fight but it is boxing and anything can happen. We do a lot of work in the gym and I just listened to my coach round after round and he told me what I needed to do. That’s all I needed.
“We worked hard to try to avoid this kind of punch but unfortunately he got a really hard shot through and hurt me,” said Wlodarczyk. “We knew how good he was and we prepared hard for it. I wanted to use the jab as much as possible. My strength is the second part of the fight and we were hoping to bring him to the later part of the fight and take advantage.”
In the WBSS cruiserweight reserve match, Mateusz Masternak (40-4, 26 KOs) stopped Stivens Bujaj (16-2-1, 11 KOs) on the advice of the ringside doctor after seven rounds of action.
“I got stronger as the fight went on,” said Masternak. “I was ready to go hard rounds and use my attack to overwhelm him. Once I started using combinations I was very effective in hurting him. That made the difference for me.”
Bujaj tried to use his elusiveness to jab and avoid big shots from Masternak and had some success early on. Bujaj frequently used head and body movement to parry the attacking Masternak.
The fourth round saw Masternak begin to break through with powerful right hands to the side of Bujaj’s head. Masternak continued to stalk Bujaj around the ring and had his most success pinning Bujaj in the corner.
“I thought I was boxing well, but I wasn’t offensive enough,” said Bujaj. “I was trying, but I felt like I was one step behind. I was definitely rusty. I’m disappointed in myself. I know I could have fought better than that and performed better. I just didn’t feel like myself tonight.”
Masternak’s power finally broke through in the seventh round when he connected with another right hand, this one sending Bujaj to the canvas. Bujaj rose to his feet and survived the round, but not before taking more punishment from Masternak. Bujaj’s corner had seen enough and stopped the fight after seven rounds.
“I stayed focused and kept my right hand ready to deliver damage,” said Masternak. “I’m ready to fight with anyone they put in front of me. I’m always ready in the gym and I can’t wait to get back in the ring.”
Featured bouts began with super welterweight contender Maciej Sulecki (26-0, 10 KOs)scoring a unanimous decision victory over former title challenger Jack Culcay (22-3, 11 KOs)in a back-and-forth 10-round WBC title eliminator.
“It was a very tough fight and I had to be at my best,” said Sulecki. “I didn’t think he’d be quite as tough, but I wanted to fight him and I got him.”
The contest opened cautiously as Sulecki looked to use his reach advantage to subdue Culcay. Sulecki had success varying his attack as Culcay looked to navigate the distance and throw big punches from the inside.
The series of right hands eventually led to a cut opening near the left eye of Culcay, which seemed to inspire Culcay to pick up his efforts in the seventh round. The once-beaten contender came out incredibly aggressive in the seventh round and hurt Sulecki with a series of combinations.
“I prepared for about four or five weeks for this opponent,” said Sulecki. “The seventh round was the toughest round for me. I got hit with a couple big shots, but I wanted a war. I was never going to let down.”
“It was a close fight,” said Culcay. “Hard to tell but I felt like I was winning. It was very close but I really thought I was winning. I felt like I was strong. I thought that I hurt him. But this is boxing. I would love a rematch, but either way I will be back even stronger.”
Sulecki and Culcay continued to stand toe-to-toe for the finals rounds, with both men having their dominant moments. After 10 rounds, all three judges saw the fight in favor of Sulecki by scroes of 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94.
“I want the best in the division and that means facing Jermell Charlo,” said Sulecki. “I’m ready to challenge for a title.”
Photos courtesy of Stephanie Trapp/Ringstar Sports