Murat Gassiev's first test as the IBF cruiserweight champion went about as well as one could possibly hope for.
Gassiev knocked out former two-time cruiserweight world champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in the third round of a title defense in Newark, New Jersey. That fight is also a World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight quarterfinal match, giving Gassiev the final semifinal spot in the tournament.
The fight started off slowly, with both boxers trying to measure each other in the early going. Gassiev's offense mainly dealt with him landing numerous body shots to Wlodarczyk while Wlodarczyk couldn't muster up anything to deal with the much younger Gassiev. The bout ended in the third round when Gassiev had Wlodarczyk on the ropes and landed a left uppercut. Gassiev followed it up with a left hook to Wlodarczyk's ribs and Wlodarczyk immediately dropped down to the canvas and couldn't get back up by the time the referee's count reached to 10.
Now that Gassiev has retained the title, his next step is unifying world titles and already has an opponent: WBA "regular" champion Yunier Dorticos. Dorticos is Gassiev's opponent in the World Boxing Super Series semifinals and the fight is expected to take place in January. The IBF and WBA titles will be unified in that fight while the WBO and WBC titles will also be unified in the other semifinals.
Dorticos stepped to the ring after Gassiev knocked out Wlodarczyk to send a message to the Russian champion.
"I'm going to knock you out," Dorticos said.
Dorticos also knocked out his WBSS quarterfinal opponent, Dmitry Kudryashov, in quick fashion back in September to set up a showdown between arguably two of the strongest punches in the division.