With the Ali trophy and all four cruiserweight belts at stake, Saturday’s World Boxing Super Series final should be special.
The two finalists are about as evenly-matched as two fighters can be.
Oleksandr Usyk has been a road warrior in the tournament so far, beating Germany’s Marco Huck and Mairis Briedis of Latvia in their own back yards, and the 31-year-old Ukrainian will again need to win on enemy soil in Moscow this weekend.
Usyk won the WBO world title in just his 10th professional bout in September 2016 and has defended it on four occasions since, also picking up the WBC belt on the way.
While not a powerful puncher, he has still racked up 11 stoppage wins thanks to his ability to put on constant pressure and accumulate damage.
Usyk’s fantastic work rate could prove crucial against Murat Gassiev, who boasts an undefeated record of 26 wins with one no contest.
The Russian is a ferocious body puncher and holds a clear power advantage in this fight, having knocked out 19 opponents, including both Krzysztof Wlodarczyk and Yunier Dorticos in this tournament.
Currently holding the WBA and IBF belts at the age of just 24, Gassiev is undoubtedly a fantastic prospect, but this fight against Usyk might be a step too far this early in his career.
Gassiev was pushed very close in a split decision win over a 37-year-old Denis Lebedev in 2016, and Usyk is arguably a more skilful southpaw than the former unified world champion.
Expect the Ukrainian to stay away from Gassiev’s dangerous left hand, cruise through the early rounds and then push forward later on when his stamina advantage will become much more evident.
A decision win for Usyk is the best bet.
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