By John J. Raspanti
In an exciting championship fight, IBF cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev earned a spot in the World Boxing Super Series finals Saturday night by stopping now former WBA titleholder Yunier Dorticos in the 12th and final round at the Belshoy Ice Dome in Sochi, Russia. The end came 2:52 seconds into round 12.
The bout took a round or so to heat up. Gassiev (26-0, 19 KOs) worked off his back foot, clipping the slightly taller Dorticos with jabs and hooks. Dorticos (22-1, 21 KOs) snapped off his own jab, backing up Gassiev and keeping him off balance. A right hand connected.
Gassiev moved to his left and dug a hard shot to the body. Dorticos missed a number of blows and paid for it, eating a couple of sweeping hooks to the chin.
In round three, Gassiev continued to beat Dorticos to the punch. He was shooting his right and landing. Undaunted, Dorticos pressed forward, using his jab as a range finder, but finding it difficult to time Gassiev with something significant.
Dorticos finally found some success with his vaunted right hand in rounds four and five, but the blows had no effect. The sharper Gassiev caught Dorticos with a perfect combination that might have felled lessor fighters. Dorticos didn’t blink and moved forward.
Both champions connected with sharp blows at the bell. Dorticos had predicted yesterday that he would knock Gassiev out in round five.
He stalked and rocked, but it was Gassiev who found his chin with an uppercut and left hook. Seconds later, he wobbled Dorticos with an overhand right and left hook.Dorticos held on for dear life and waited for the referee.
Gassiev connected with an uppercut, followed by a left to begin round six. The punches forced Dorticos back for the first time in the fight. Gassiev pumped home his right and a beautiful left hook to the ribs in round seven. Dorticos tagged Gassiev with a left, but his follow-up hook was short. Gassiev landed another hard shot to the chin.
Dorticos did better in round eight, but Gassiev came back well in round nine. He bobbed and weaved and connected with a left hooks and right hands. Dorticos was step slow and an inch short with his punches. With a minute to go in the stanza, Gassiev connected with multiple blows, including a beautiful uppercut, that stopped Dorticos in his tracks.
In round 10, Gassiev let his right hand go—it connected perfectly, but Dorticos fought back. Gassiev landed a left hook—followed by an uppercut that snapped Dorticos head back. A three-punch combination hurt Dorticos badly. The Cuban champion fired back, but his punches had no effect on Gassiev.
Dorticos somehow came out punching in the 12th and final round. Gassiev let fly with another combination that connected. A huge left hook sent Dorticos to the canvas. Dorticos pulled himself up, but another hook sent Dorticos down for the second time.
The gutsy warrior got up again--his legs weak, and wobbled like a drunk as Gassiev chased after him. Finally, with a few seconds to go in the round, Gassiev ended the fight with a glancing right hand that sent the Dorticos thru the ropes. The referee took one look at the prone Dorticos and waved off the fight.
The time was 2:52 seconds of the12th round.
“I want to thank all the Russian fans,” said Gassiev. “Thank you for supporting me. He has 21 knockouts. Big pressure all fight.”
Gassiev will face WBO/WBC champion Oleksandr Usyk for all the marbles this May in Saudia Arabia.
“I expect a spectacular fight,” said Ulysk.