Back in February, in Russia, in the second semifinal of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament, Murat Gassiev, unbeaten, met Cuba’s Yunier Dorticos, also unbeaten, and a truly incredible battle was witnessed. In fact, plenty of boxing web sites and writers have the cruiserweight thriller as their pick for 2018 Fight of The Year.
A quite superb fight it was, and it began at a hot pace, never once coming close to slowing down. Dorticos, 22-0(21) and the WBA champ, pressed the action early, pushing Gassiev onto his back foot, but the younger man from Russia (Gassiev being 24 to age 31 for Dorticos) was the more versatile boxer, the better punch-picker. Gassiev, 25-0(19) and the IBF ruler, was able to visibly hurt Dorticos a few times – the first time in round-five – whereas Dorticos, despite his best efforts, was never able to make a dent in his rival.
With scarcely a clinch to be seen, the two men went at it for speedy round after speedy round, after speedy round. The pace was frenetic, yet quite amazingly neither man appeared to get tired. Gassiev’s left hook to the head was a frequent and effective weapon, as were his hooks to the head. Both men attacked the body well at times and Dorticos fired plenty of quality left jabs.
By the final third of the fight, Gassiev, with his superior game-plan and more educated punch variety, began to take over; piling up the points. An accurate and extremely hurtful puncher, Gassiev was simply unwilling to accept a decision win, and in rounds ten and eleven, he hurt Dorticos badly. The tenth was a great round, with fierce trading, while in the eleventh-round Gassiev came on hard. Dorticos was initially having a good round-eleven, his inner strength and his refusal to give in being astonishing, but then, near the end of the round, Gassiev landed with hard left hooks, an uppercut and a right hand, all to the head.
In the final session Gassiev put the finishing touches to his violent masterpiece; scoring three hurtful knockdowns. Dorticos, one brave, brave warrior, fought his heart out in an attempt to stick in there, but he was badly hurt and he had next to nothing left. There were zero complaints about the stoppage.
And there were no complaints from any single fan regarding the action in this special fight. We witnessed a classic back in February. A classic good enough to be rewarded with The FOTY trophy for 2018.