Former cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev (30-1, 23 KOs) showed that his power transfers well at the heavyweight level with him crushing previously unbeaten Mike Balogun (20-1, 16 KOs) in round two on Friday night to win the vacant WBA Intercontinental heavyweight title at the Karen Demirchyan Sports Complex in Yerevan, Armenia.
After doing very little in the first round and through much of the second, the 29-year-old former IBF & WBA cruiserweight champion Gassiev caught the 39-year-old Balogun with a hard right hand that dropped him in his tracks.
Unfortunately for the former college & NFL football player Balogun, he was too hurt to beat the referee’s count. Although he tried to get back up, he was too stunned to make it to his feet before the referee reached the count of ten.
It was a classic performance for Gassiev, as he’s always had a low work rate throughout his twelve-year professional career, but tonight, he was taking ultra slow, perhaps knowing that he had an easy mark in front of him in Balogun.
Gassiev didn’t have to worry about Balogun’s shots because he was picking them off with his gloves and arms and not getting hit with anything by the American.
It’s likely that if Gassiev had let his hands go in the opening round, he would have stopped him because he was punching really hard, and there aren’t too many heavyweights that could take that kind of power.
Even Tyson Fury, who is known for his ability to take shots, would have been in trouble if he’d been on the receiving end of Gassiev’s shots tonight.
Gassiev’s win tonight was just his fourth since losing his cruiserweight title to Oleksandr Usyk in their undisputed championship in July 2018.
If Gassiev wants to get a title shot soon, he’s going to need to get busy fighting two or three times a year because his current activity level isn’t getting the job done.
When you fight as seldom as Gassiev, the sanctioning bodies ignore you, and you get left behind.
When you see arguably lesser fighters getting title shots like Derek Chisora and Dillian Whyte, it’s troubling to see better talents getting ignored. But Gassiev isn’t doing himself any favors by not staying active, and he might not ever get a title shot if he continues to sit on the sidelines for long stretches at a time before fights.