Well it has took a while to get here but finally it is fight week for the World Boxing Super Series Cruiserweight Final in Russia between Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev . This will be the first time in ten years that the Cruiserweight division has seen a lineal champion . On Saturday night we will be treated to what may be the best fight of this year as there is very little to choose between these two elite level operators . You can take all the talk about splits and money that so often stops fights like this happening , this fight is what boxing is all about .
Oleksandr Usyk is one of my favourite fighters to watch . Another product of the Ukrainian Boxing system this guy brings a little bit of Vasyl Lomachenko style to the big boy weights and i for one love it . Like Lomachenko , Usyk has been fast tracked due to his extensive experience as an top level amateur which has seen him have to learn on the job at times but each time he has found a way to win . Usyk’s big most valuable asset is his hi intensity work rate , he doesn’t just come forward but he comes in from the sides , constantly looking to back opponents up waiting for that moment where there concentration lapses and he can pounce . Most of Usyk’s work comes off the jab which disguises where his attack will come from , a technique that does seem to be a work in progress but one that the Ukrainian is close to mastering . Usyk proved in his last fight in the semi final against Mairus Briedis in Latvia that even when things aren’t working he can go to war and win , something that he may need to draw on come Saturday . Up until Usyk fought Briedis we hadn’t really seen him tested , and nobody ever really knows how someone will react when they are dragged into a battle . In that fight i thought Briedis was unlucky , he just fell short of the mark and showed Usyk can be very naive falling for the traps that Briedis had set and time and time agains Usyk walked on to big shots , something Usyk Cannot afford to do this weekend or it will be goodnight .
Gassiev is someone who has benefited massively from the WBSS with his success in the tournament bringing him to front and centre in the division that is stacked with talent . Gassiev has a very fan friendly style as this boy can bang . In his last outing in the WBSS semi final he fought Doriticos , another top level Cruiserweight who gave Gassiev all sorts of problems early in the fight . I honestly thought Doriticos was on his way to a well earned victory after the first four rounds but Gassiev like any true elite level boxer showed what it takes to turn from a valiant loser into a gallant winner . That night Gassiev had every excuse to ditch his original game plan as he was being caught on the way in time and time again but he didn’t , he knew Doriticos would slow down the longer the fight went on . As the early freshness faded from Doriticos , he slowed that of a half second and Gassiev could get to work , landing the harder more punishing shots that gradually breaking Doriticos down . That night I couldn’t help but acknowledge that Gassiev must have the upmost confidence in his corner , to have the confidence to stick with a gameplan that didn’t look to be working the first quarter of the fight and make the slight adjustments shows his class . Gassiev isn’t the kind of technician Usyk is but that’s not to say Gassiev doesn’t have skills . A bit like like Usyk , Gassiev does his best work on the front foot , prodding , punching and breaking opponents down . Gassiev i really good at countering his opponents just as they launch an attack , and with Gassiev’s power that is a danger for anybody .
This fight doesn’t just have the potential to be the best fight of this year , it has the potential to be the best fight for years top come , that is how highly i rate both these guys . Across all social media and boxing press everybody seems split as to how this fight will go . I think if Usyk makes the same mistakes he made against Briedis he will be stopped , he must show more patience and maybe not try and iniciante every exchange as that’s is when he will be vulnerable . Gassiev cannot go into this fight thinking Usyk will slow down like Doriticos , as i said before Usyk’s gas tank is his biggest asset . I can see this one going the distance with heart stopping moments for both sets of fans . I can see both guys having to dig deep and survive at points . From the start of the WBSS i have said Usyk will win the tournament and my pick hasn’t changed , but i do think it will be a lot closer than i first anticipated .
Usyk Split Decision