Pick Em

PICK EM FRIDAY | OLEKSANDR USYK VS. MURAT GASSIEV

Paul J Daley – Oleksandr Usyk UD12 Murat GassievThese two men don’t need to bad mouth one another or push one another at press conferences in a show of bravado, because fight fans don’t need convincing that these two men are the real deal, no-nonsense, best of the best, somethings don’t need to be said and this is one of those times.

The Super Six has once again worked its wonders in matching the elite in a tournament-style format that will bring together the divisions two alpha males in an absolutely absorbing encounter.

Oleksandr Usyk is a fighter that I have kept an eye on since his early days as an amateur in Ukraine, he like his compatriot Vasyl Lomachenko always reverted my gaze whenever the world championships or Olympics were on, even more so than my favourites of Cuba.

So seeing Usyk apply his trade it didn’t come as a shock to see him hit the ground running in the Cruiserweight division, It was expected.

Murat Gassiev I am slightly ashamed to say did escape my attention until probably around the time he stopped Felix Cora Jr. Since then he hasn’t failed to impress me with his dominance as he tore through the division before toppling Denis Lebedev, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk and the pièce de résistance over Yunier Dorticos put him in position to fight for all the marbles.

Picking a winner for this fight comes down to what you favour in a fighter, the equaliser of power shifts in direction of Gassiev whilst the ring smarts are slightly in Usyks favour.

I personally love a pure boxer, which is why you’ve probably heard me countless times rave about Guillermo Rigondeaux, Vasyl Lomachenko, Andre Ward and Terence Crawford, Oleksandr Usyk is someone who finds himself in that mould of fighters, I feel in this contest especially that his ability to nullify the power of Gassiev using his movement and jab will be enough to gain a unanimous decision win.

The trend of thought from our knowledgeable boxing writers is that Gassiev will be dangerous throughout due to his power, a true reflection but my concern, if I was in the Usyk camp, would be in utmost to outpoint him widely, anything close in Russia you can almost guarantee will go in favour of Gassiev added to further by the distaste for Ukrainian’s within the Country, Lets hope we get to see a fair fight and the best man to have his hand raised in one of this year’s best fights.

Jonathan Harris – Oleksandr Usyk UD12 Murat Gassiev – The WBSS has given fans some mouth-watering match this time Russia and Ukraine are about to come together in what has the potential to be a fight of the year, at the end of the fight we will have a unified cruiserweight champion which gives the battle that extra edge for excitement, We have a slick contender in the Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk with incredible footwork and the ability to put together picture perfect combinations

In the opposite corner will be the heavy-handed Russian Murat Gassiev, Gassiev is the more experienced fighter In the professional ranks with a perfect record of 26-0-0 and 19 of them coming by way of knockout and a style that will break you down until you want to cry out for help!.

These two styles clashing is what really makes this fight a special bout, we don’t often get to see two fighters of this calibre pitted together especially to gain control of the 4 major belts so everything is on the line so neither will leave any doubt inside them ropes.

Since the announcement of the fight with both making it to the final in spectacular fashion, I have played the situation over and over in my brain trying to grasp some sort of way this fight will go and it has been a struggle, to say the least, both men trained by what most would say two of the best trainers in the world, both tick all the boxes of what it takes to become champion and both are young and hungry to unify.

It really could swing either way, but I have to go with my heart on this and go for the Usyk by points decision, if Usyk can use his footwork and hand speed to move around Gassiev and not get dragged in to a dogfight he has every potential to get the decision, but you can not afford to go toe to toe with a bone crusher like Gassiev!

Either way, we are in for one hell of a fight!


Jamie Bourne- Oleksandr Usyk UD12 Murat GassievI am favouring Usyk to become the undisputed cruiserweight champion, however, he must improve on his previous performance against Bredis if he is to do so.

Defensively, he was completely ignorant towards Bredis’ offence and relinquished too much energy by throwing heavy shots. These tactics won’t work against Gassiev, whose power could put any fighter in the division to sleep with a single blow.

I feel the Ukrainian is the more adaptable of the two combatants and will be able to adjust his tactics accordingly throughout the fight. I anticipate a fast start as he looks to set the tone early by sustaining a high punch output and controlling the centre of the ring. Once he builds some confidence and momentum heading into the middle rounds, the fight will slowly become his to lose and he will cruise to a point’s decision victory.


Craig Morgan – Murat Gassiev TKO Oleksandr UsykFor the first time ever, all 4 belts on the line in the Cruiserweight division.

An epic fight, with 2 undefeated champions facing off, each man holding a brace of world titles, Gassiev – IBF/WBA & Usyk – WBC/WBO.

The conclusion of another WBSS tournament, which has seen some great fights throughout.

Both men are capable of winning this fight, it’s a fight that I cannot definitively predict the outcome, which makes it such a good match up.

Usyk struggled a bit in the latter stages of the semi-final & Gassiev has a great trainer in Abel Sanchez. I expect him to have a game plan to implement a high work rate on the older man Usyk, making him work by pushing him back constantly.

Usyk is the more skilful fighter but Gassiev is a massive puncher.

When pushed for a prediction, I lean towards Gassiev forcing a late stoppage but wouldn’t be at all surprised if Usyk is able to get the win. Gassiev by late stoppage.


Steve Haigh – Oleksander Usyk SD12 Murat Gassiev – Fantastic matchup will all four belts plus lineal title on the line.

The only potential problem being it involves a Russian with the fight in Russia.
Focusing on the positive side of things though Usyk has to be smart with his approach because he cannot takes shots like against Briedis, Gassiev is a big strong unit and the Ukrainian has to try and have the last word in the exchanges.

Gassiev needs an all-out war and to get his opponent involved at all costs. He won’t outbox his man so Abel Sanchez needs to devise a plan around stealth and drawing Usyk into getting drunk on his own successes

Either way a brilliant near 50-50 contest on paper although it may not necessarily be reflected on the night.


Lee Thorton – Oleksandr Usyk UD12 Murat Gassiev – Russia will host one of the best cruiserweight fights in a very long time between Oleksandr Usyk & Murat Gassiev.

Usyk brings outstanding footwork, angles and conditioning to this encounter.
Gassiev, on the other hand, is a patient vicious puncher with great bodywork and improves every fight.

Picking a winner is tough, however, I feel Usyk’ s footwork, angles and constant attacks will be tough for Gassiev to deal with.

Gassiev I believe is too inexperienced for the style that Usyk brings and at times Gassiev is to patient when having his opponent in a vulnerable positional advantage.

However, Gassiev’s style allows him to be extremely dangerous late in this fight with his knockout power and bodywork with good timing. Usyk must move constantly and not allow Gassiev to set his feet. It’s bittersweet to pick against Gassiev in this fight as I have told many boxing fans about his skills but I edge Usyk in a decision.

Gassiev will learn from this fight and be a monster in the future I highly respect his attitude and skills that will fully develop under the watchful eye of Abel Sanchez.


Richard Lewis – Oleksandr Usyk UD12 Murat Gassiev The Cruiserweight division has benefitted massively from the World Boxing Super Series, which has been in my opinion a revelation and achieved what it set out to do by finding the best of the division and unifying the major alphabet world titles in the process too.

This coming Saturday in Moscow we see all four major world titles on the line for the first time in its history, as the final takes place between the undefeated Russian native Murat Gassiev, and the pre-tournament favourite, Ukrainian Olympic Gold medalist Oleksandr Usyk. This fight is not only the best v the best but also has the added incentive of those previously mentioned four world titles on the line and both men protecting undefeated records also. Someone’s 0 has got to go, and with it the loser will forfeit two world titles too with Gassiev currently holding the WBA ‘Super’ and IBF titles, and Usyk the WBC and WBO versions. Even the most casual of Boxing fans would surely find it hard not to get excited for this fight.

How do you pick a winner when seemingly there’s not a lot to split between the two men? I’ve changed my mind a few times over the last week or so and probably will again come fight night, with Gassiev’s stunning 12 round TKO win over Cuban Yunier Dorticos in a back and forth battle still fresh in the memory from the semi-finals, whilst Usyk won a paper-thin majority points decision over another previously undefeated opponent in the tough Latvian and defending WBC champ Marius Briedis. Both men carry power in their punches and also have good ability and ring knowledge. They can both take a punch and have good movement, though Usyk for me seems the quicker but Gassiev the harder hitter. It could literally come down a classic Power v Speed battle and that can go either way as we know.

If I was pushed for a definite answer right now then I’d probably lean slightly towards Oleksandr Usyk winning by another close points decision after a tough 12 round battle, but something is saying to me that Gassiev with home advantage on his side may just steal it if it goes the distance. I don’t know if he’ll have enough to get in close enough to seriously trouble Usyk who will be wary of the power he carries and use his footwork and speed to get in and out and pinch rounds. What I do know is we are in for a treat and it’ll be well worth the PPV fee that it’s commanding. Roll on Saturday when history will be made and we have a unified Cruiserweight World Champion, the first time it has ever happened in this division.

I've been in the boxing industry for over 16 years but been a fan for almost double that figure. I'm the proud owner of TopClassBoxing which continues to go from strength to strength as we strive to give fight fans a voice to be heard amongst the community. I've also had several articles published by reputable magazines and you can usually catch me around ringside.

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