Oleksandr Usyk wins big fight moved from Saudi Arabia to Moscow
Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk unified the cruiserweight division by beating Russian Murat Gassiev by unanimous decision on Saturday in a fight that was originally due to take place in Saudi Arabia.
The two titans were due to meet at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah on May 11, but the fight was called off because Usyk suffered an injury in training. The showdown in the final of the World Boxing Super Series was subsequently moved to Moscow and took place on Saturday night, with $10 million at stake in addition to the honor of winning the first Muhammad Ali Trophy.
Despite facing a hostile crowd in Moscow, Usyk controlled the fight with his jab to add Gassievâs WBA and IBF titles to his own WBC and WBO belts.
Gassiev landed some heavy body shots when he got inside Usykâs reach, but started to tire and the Ukrainian was utterly dominant in the later rounds as Gassiev swung w ild haymakers.
Usyk, a former Olympic gold medalist, holds all four major titles after just 15 professional fights, all of which he won.
âMoscow, 2018. Bang! Daddyâs in the building,â Usyk said.
Usyk added he could move up to heavyweight to fight the experienced British fighter Tony Bellow.
âIf he doesnât want to drop down (to cruiserweight), Iâll happily go up to meet him,â Usyk said. âIâll just eat extra pasta.â
It was Usykâs third fight in 10 months as part of the World Boxing Super Series, in which he also beat German Marco Huck and the then-WBC champion Mairis Briedis.
Gassievâs record dropped to 26-1 with one no contest. âI had the best opponent in my professional career,â Gassiev said. âI do my best, just today is Oleksandrâs day.â
Usyk was born in Crimea and has said he was forced to leave the peninsula after Russia annexed it from Ukraine in 2014. Despite the tension between the two countries, Usyk and Gassiev em braced warmly after the fight with broad smiles.
On the undercard, Cecilia Braekhus remained the undisputed womenâs welterweight champion after beating the relatively inexperienced Russian Inna Sagaydakovskaya by unanimous decision.
The Norwegian, who first won a world title in 2009, has a 34-0 record.