As exciting, talent-rich and respected as the cruiserweight division – once an all but frowned upon weight class – is today, the champions of the 200-pound division still aim to make the lucrative move up to heavyweight in the future. In fact both Oleksandr Usyk, the reigning WBO champ, and Murat Gassiev, the reigning IBF boss, recently spoke of their desire to become heavyweights, and heavyweight champion, at a later stage in their careers.
Both unbeaten champions spoke with Ringtv.com, Usyk saying he will bulk up to 220-pounds when the time comes, Gassiev stating he has a dream of becoming heavyweight champion – but both cruiserweights have another goal to accomplish before moving up in weight: unifying their current division.
Gassiev, who reminds his promoter Leon Margules of the great Rocky Marciano and has the potential to “become a superstar,” thrilled fans with his recent decision win over the tough and game Denis Lebedev. Usyk has already made a successful first defence of his WBO belt and these two excellent fighters prove how special the cruiserweight division is right now.
“As a very young world champion, we believe that Murat, who gets better every day, can become a superstar,” Margules of Warriors Boxing told Ring. “He has the work ethic, size and power to be a world champion for a very long time. He reminds me a little of Rocky Marciano because of his fighting style and tremendous body attack.”
Trained by Abel Sanchez, Gassiev, just 23 yet already 24-0(17) could well go on to prove himself as the best cruiserweight in a weight class that not only boasts himself and Usyk, but also the likes of Marco Huck, Lebedev (who wants a return with Gassiev) Steve Cunningham, Tony Bellew, Mairis Breidis and others. And what a great fight it would/will be if Gassiev and Usyk get it on.
Ever since the great Evander Holyfield, though, practically every cruiserweight champion has tried his had as a heavyweight. This trend looks set to continue and who knows, in a couple of years or so, Usyk and/or Gassiev will be holding a major heavyweight belt or two.
In the meantime, the two 200-pounders will get busy in their attempts at dominating and unifying the division that used to be nothing but a poor and distant relative of the sport’s glamour division.