The World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight final is guaranteed to produce fireworks
The first half of 2018 has seen numerous sensational fights take place within an impressively short period of time.
From January to June we have had: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai v Juan Estrada, Deontay Wilder v Luis Ortiz, Erislandy Lara v Jarrett Hurd, Jessie Magdaleno v Isaac Dogboe, Jorge Linares v Vasyl Lomachenko and Alex Saucedo v Lenny Zappavigna.
Six months, six bonafide ‘Fight of the Year’ contenders, and the best is quite possibly yet to come.
That’s because there are two fights missing from the above list. Two semi-finals, in fact.
On January 27 and February 3, the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament produced two stunning encounters which will live long in the memories of those who witnessed them.
The eight-man, knockout concept had already been reduced to four remaining competitors after the quarter-finals in late 2017 and what happened next was special.
First came Ukraine’s WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk travelling to Latvia for a battle with hometown WBC king Mairis Briedis.
After a rough start in a hostile atmosphere, Usyk went toe-to-toe with Briedis, narrowly edging him out by decision in what was another ‘Fight of the Year’ contender.
A week later, Cuba’s WBA champion Yunier Dorticos went to Russia for a bout with IBF ruler Murat Gassiev.
With eleven rounds gone in another momentous clash, Gassiev held a slight lead over his opponent. Despite this, he refused to be infiltrated by complacency and stormed out in the final round with the intention of finishing his opponent.
Three brutal knockdowns later and Dorticos fell through the ropes as the fight was waved off. Our final was set.
Oleksandr Usyk will face Murat Gassiev in the conclusion of the brilliant World Boxing Super Series tournament on July 21 in Moscow and it’s a fight you cannot afford to miss.
Usyk is now the WBC and WBO champion having beaten Briedis, while Gassiev holds the WBA and IBF titles following his destruction of Dorticos.
This means that their meeting in the final will be for all four recognised world titles, crowning a rare undisputed king in modern boxing.
Usyk v Gassiev represents everything that is good about the sport. Not only are we getting a clear, undisputed champion, but we’ll also experience a 50/50 fight at the absolute highest level.
Nobody can predict with any degree of certainty who will emerge victorious on July 21; that’s how boxing should be when the sport’s foremost fighters face off.
The sole downside is that it will unfortunately be broadcast on a £9.95 pay-per-view in the UK.
While it’s hard to justify any fight between a Ukrainian and a Russian being on PPV over here, what we can say is this: If you are someone who usually forks out for boxing events on TV, then you’ll not see a fight that offers better value for money than this one.
At just 24 years of age, Murat Gassiev could achieve a phenomenal feat if he becomes undisputed champion on July 21.
Meanwhile, 31-year-old Oleksandr Usyk can cement himself as the ultimate road warrior with victory in Moscow, having fought on his opponents’ home soil in every round of the competition.
Pride, prestige and legacy will all be on the line in Moscow and we can expect a war between two of boxing’s supreme talents.