Aleksandr Usyk 15-0 (11 KO) dominated Murat Gassiev 26-1 (19 KO) in route to winning the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight final and capturing the first ever Muhammad Ali trophy.
Oh, and by the way, he also unified the cruiserweight division for good measure, the fastest ever to do so.
In order to know how Usyk got here, we have to take a quick peek backwards…..
Usyk, actually not only ended the first ever bracket in the new World Boxing Super Series, he actually started it back on September 9, 2017 in Berlin against Marco Huck.
In the fight against Huck, Usyk, an odds on favorite even at the beginning to best the cruiserweight field, stopped Huck in the tenth round. Huck was game but Usyk wore him down forcing the stoppage after a barrage of unanswered punches.
Next up was Mairis Briedis this past January 27th. It was a close fight from the onset with both fighters giving as good as they were getting. The cut from a head butt in round three no doubt affected Usyk a bit but it was hard to tell as Usyk fought tough throughout landing big shots on Briedis. Usyk closed each round strong which probably favored him in the eyes of the judges, When it was all said and done, Usyk scored a MD, 115-113 X2, 114-114.
As such, the stage was set for the fight with Gassiev, a fighter who had stopped both of his tournament opponents, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk and Yunier Dorticos.
Many had today’s fight 50/50 coming in. A contrast of styles, the puncher vs. the boxer puncher. An expected, ahem…fight-of-the-year candidate.
It was everything but.
Usyk controlled all aspects of the fight from the opening bell. The biggest key to his success was the utilization of his jab. His jab in this fight was a thing of beauty. Usyk popped it early and often and it never gave Gassiev a chance.
Usyk would jab high to negate anything Gassiev was about to do, then he would land hooks and straight lefts behind it, and again, jab to the body then back to the head. Usyk moves about as well for a cruiserweight that you will see.
Usyk’s defense was improved from past fights through his foot movement. Gassiev swung at air many times.
Gassiev did have some moments, like landing solid body shots from time to time and his best punch of the fight, the big right at the end of the 4th that seemed to stun Usyk momentarily. That’s said, Gassiev’s demise was his inability to sustain anything. In addition, he was inept at cutting off the ring and always kept looking for one big shot. Maybe Abel Sanchez thought he could GGG his way to victory?
Every round 1-12 was a carbon copy of the next. Usyk dominated in the scoring disciplines of ring generalship, defense, affective aggression, and clean punching.
One things for sure, Usyk has learned a thing or two from the best P4P fighter in the game, Vasyl Lomachenko. The footwork and defense was greatly improved. From time to time, you could see a bit of Loma in the ring today, the sneaky quick shot up through the middle, the hook followed by the movement.
Standing-8 had it a shut out for Usyk 120-108, with one official card matching our score and the two others a point off 119-109.
One look at the dominance of the Ukrainian fighters, and I can’t help but say…”I’ll have what their having”.