Former IBF/WBA cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev has fought just once since his heavy points defeat to Oleksandr Usyk, this in the final of The World Boxing Super Series in July of 2018. After losing almost every round against the slick and clever southpaw, “Iron” of Russia announced he would be moving up to the heavyweight division (as Usyk did).
It’s been a painfully slow and frustrating time for Gassiev and his fans since he made the move from 200 pounds to 220-plus. Fights with Joey Dawejko and Jerry Forrest fell through due to injury on the part of 27 year old Gassiev, and the one fight he did manage to see through came against Nuri Seferi, who Gassiev stopped in a round. Now, finally set to fight again, in his second bout as a heavyweight, Gassiev, 27-1(20) will face Michael Wallisch in Moscow on July 22.
Wallisch, 22-4(15) has lost each time he has stepped up (being stopped by Joe Joyce, Tony Yoka, Efe Ajagba and Christian Hammer) but he is a big guy at 6’4,” in fact the biggest guy the 6’3” Gassiev will have yet faced. It’s a step in the right direction for Gassiev. But can the iron man who was such a powerhouse at 200 pounds make it as a heavyweight?
Hopefully Gassiev has put all his injury time firmly in the past and he can get this fight done and then remain active. The Usyk fight aside, Gassiev was too strong, too tough and too determined for each of his opponents. It will be interesting seeing (if we get to see it) Gassiev in there with some elite big men of the sport. Usyk is STILL awaiting official confirmation of his fight with Anthony Joshua, and Gassiev has plenty of lost time to make up.
Which of these two has the best shot at doing big things in the heavyweight division? Gassiev should be able to beat Wallisch on July 22, but then again it will be interesting to see how he copes with his opponent’s size. After that, who knows? But again, let’s hope Gassiev, a good and exciting fighter who gave us plenty of good stuff at cruiserweight, can and will stay active. Three fights in three years is pretty bad.
Some match-ups I’d like to see:
Gassiev Vs. Dereck Chisora
Gassiev Vs. Otto Wallin
Gassiev Vs. Martin Bakole
Gassiev Vs. Filip Hrgovic!
Can Gassiev become world heavyweight champion, in doing so joining Evander Holyfield and David Haye as the only two men to have ever won world titles at cruiserweight and heavyweight? Will Gassiev get as far as challenging for a major heavyweight title?