Perhaps one of the best compliments that a boxer could get in 2017 is to be called someone with the potential to have a career similar to that of arguably the top pound-for-pound boxer in the world today.
Murat Gassiev, who is the current IBF cruiserweight champion, is competing in the World Boxing Super Series where he will face former world champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk on October 21. Under the watchful eye of trainer Abel Sanchez, Gassiev has the potential to make a lot of noise in the tournament and even become the world's best cruiserweight boxer.
Sanchez spoke to Fightful during a media workout at the Everlast Lab in Hoboken, New Jersey in which Gassiev and other boxers participated at. Sanchez said at just 24 years old, Gassiev has the potential to be a great cruiserweight boxer and even compares him to another boxer Sanchez trains: Gennady Golovkin.
The legendary trainer said of all the guys he's currently training, Gassiev has the best chance to have a career like Golovkin's.
"He has the potential to be [the next Golovkin] of the guys that I currently train. But the thing about Gassiev and Golovkin is that Golovkin has 350 amateur bouts and Gassiev only has 30 amateur bouts, so he's still learning some things. He definitely has the hunger and drive for greatness," Sanchez said.
One thing Sanchez hopes to see more is the cruiserweights being shown on a big stage inside the United States. Sanchez said the cruiserweight division has an immense amount of talent, but almost all of it comes from outside the United States. With the World Boxing Super Series, Sanchez hopes that American boxing fans will be able to appreciate cruiserweight boxing.
"It would be great for the division [to get more exposure] in the United States. There are so many great boxers in the cruiserweight but no one here really has heard of them. It's not a big priority here. Unfortunately, cruiserweights carry a stigma. Some see it as a gateway from light heavyweight to heavyweight. It's a division that Evander Holyfield really made a name for himself. But there are no Americans that are really world class. We hope this tournament exposes the great boxers in this division to this world," Sanchez said.
As far as the much-anticipated rematch between Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, Sanchez commented that the fight hasn't been signed yet and that negotiations are still ongoing. As far as a potential date for a rematch, Sanchez said it could take place either in March or in May and that he would rather not have his fighter take a tune-up fight because "we don't want to run the great risk [of Golovkin either losing or getting hurt]."
But Sanchez's current goal is getting Gassiev into the World Boxing Super Series semifinals. Not only is Gassiev fighting for the last spot in the tournament's final four, he will also be defending his IBF title for the first time in his career against a seasoned veteran and former world champion in Wlodarczyk.
Fightful will have live coverage of Gassiev vs. Wlodarczyk live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on October 21.