Arguably the biggest fight in the World Boxing Super Series, Murat Gassiev vs. Yunier Dorticos, delivered in a big way with a big knockout.
Gassiev unified the WBA and IBF cruiserweight titles in Sochi, Russia with a 12th round knockout over Dorticos in a fight that will likely end up being a Fight of the Year candidate. The win also put Gassiev in the finals where in he will face WBC and WBO cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk in what will be a historic four-belt unification bout.
In a bout that had the makings of an instant classic, the fight began with Dorticos putting his best foot forward and pressuring Gassiev from the start, preventing Gassiev from getting into an offensive rhythm early and force him to move backwards throughout the first four rounds. Gassiev may not have been the more active fighter in the early going, but he did tag Dorticos with numerous big left hooks and uppercuts. Despite Gassiev’s impressive power, Dorticos did not seem fazed by anything Gassiev threw at him, that is, until the end of the fight.
As Gassiev kept getting more confident with each punch landed on Dorticos, the Cuban’s defenses and stamina started to dwindle little by little. The 11th round saw Dorticos get visibly shaken for the first time, with his knees buckling down and almost going to the canvas before a last-gasp attempt at holding on to Gassiev’s trunks saved him from going down.
The 12th and final round was a completely different story. Gassiev’s left hooks and uppercuts knocked Dorticos down twice before a third knockdown sent Dorticos tumbling through the bottom and bottom middle rope and almost out of the ring entirely, ending the fight at that point.
With Dorticos out of the picture, Gassiev now advances to the WBSS cruiserweight finals which will take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in May. The winner of the cruiserweight tournament will win the Muhammad Ali trophy as well be the first cruiserweight to win the Ring Magazine, WBA, WBO, WBC and IBF cruiserweight world titles at the same time.