According to a piece by Russian boxing writer Igorek Osetinskii, former cruiserweight champ Murat Gassiev will face Kevin Johnson on October 31 in Sochi. Although no news of this fight has been confirmed via U.S media, there is a poster accompanying Osetinskii’s piece and it seems the fight, for the WBA international heavyweight title, is set.
And what an interesting match-up this is. Gassiev, last seen losing to Oleksandr Usyk in the final of The WBSS, this way back in June of 2018, has been out of action and he has also suffered one or two injuries. A superb fighter at 200 pounds, Gassiev is of course a good deal younger than “Kingpin.” But who wins this fight? In his last fight, on August 22, Johnson, who has been around seemingly forever, made mincemeat out of another former cruiserweight champ who was trying his hand up at heavyweight, as the 41 year old stopped Yoan Pablo Hernandez in seven rounds.
This was Johnson’s best showing in some time, and he did look to have the eye of the tiger back in improving to 34-17-1(18). Kindly speaking to this writer the day after the big win in Germany, Johnson said the victory would “open lots of doors.” Johnson also said he aimed to fight twice more this year. Who knows, if Johnson can do a similar job on Gassiev as he did on Hernandez, he might wind up getting some kind of huge fight before too long. Johnson is indeed no fighter to sleep on – as Hernandez found out to his cost.
Of course, a fit and ready Gassiev, 26-1(19) is a different animal to Hernandez. Gassiev at his best is a pure pressure fighter, one who also has fine skills and genuine toughness. No doubt, Gassiev, still only 26 years of age, will enter the ring as the favorite to win. But will Gassiev be at his best on October 31? Who would you rather be in this particular fight – the active, uninjured heavyweight veteran who knows oh, so well how to take care of himself in the ring, or the younger, perhaps stronger but inactive and somewhat injury-prone former cruiserweight?
A most intriguing fight, if not only because of Johnson’s last performance.
The final word regarding this article goes to Johnson, who was kind enough to shoot me back: “I will take him apart……slowly.”
Look for a good fight.