Murat Gassiev dethrones Denis Lebedev, Troyanovsky iced
Officially add Murat Gassiev to the list of terrifying cruiserweights who you would go out of your way to avoid on a dark night.
The Russian power-puncher scored a 12-round split decision over countryman Denis Lebedev to claim the IBF 200-pound title in Moscow on Saturday and made a red-hot cruiserweight division even hotter. The scores were 116-112, 116-111 for Gassiev, with the third judge scoring 114-113 in favor of Lebedev.
Gassiev, rated No. 10 by THE RING, scored a body shot knockdown in the fifth and despite the fact that Lebedev was busier, the challenger appeared to land the more eye-catching, the more meaningful, the more hurtful punches. There will be those who feel that the 37-year-old defending titleholder won the bout on activity, but two judges were clearly swayed by Gassiev’s harder hitting.
Lebedev got off to a nice start. He pumped the jab out of the southpaw stance in the early sessions and his offense was a lot more fluid than Gassiev’s, who looked robotic at times. The challenger did get more adventurous as the rounds progressed, however, and Lebedev was persistently on the back foot.
Two left hooks to the body from Gassiev in Round 5 were warnings that went ignored and a third almost broke Lebedev in two. The knockdown was a game changer and when the defending titleholder rose, he was subjected to more of the same. Gassiev also brought in a series of punishing headshots when Lebedev attempted to protect his mid-section.
There was right eye damage for Lebedev. He was hurt and he was struggling. What cannot be understated though is the veteran’s incredible durability and bravery. Lebedev battled hard to regain a foothold and in a few of the later sessions, he outpunched the challenger and found a home for some nifty combination work. He landed the left with gusto in the tenth and the shot definitely had an effect.
Gassiev (24-0, 17 knockouts) only engaged forward gears, however, and he continued to land powerful shots to the body and the occasional right down the middle. Both fighters displayed tremendous sportsmanship throughout and a rematch would certainly be welcomed by fans, foreign and domestic.
Lebedev, who came into tonight’s fight rated No. 1 by THE RING at cruiserweight, still holds the WBA title, which was not on the line.
In the co-featured bout of the World of Boxing promotion, unbeaten Julius Indongo announced himself on the world scene with a spectacular one-punch knockout of Eduard Troyanovsky to claim the IBF junior welterweight title.
The lead left hand, from the southpaw stance, was thrown at mid-ring and has got to be a serious contender for Knockout of the Year. The official time was 0:40 and it is difficult to think of a more emphatic and shocking world title victory in recent memory. Troyanovsky came into the fight rated No. 4 by THE RING at junior welterweight and Indongo, who hails from Namibia, was unrated.
This was the first loss of Troyanovsky’s 26-fight career.
Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing