Thursday, March 30, 2023  |



Murat Gassiev: ‘I just want to fight…I need big fights’

Former IBF/WBA cruiserweight titleholder Murat Gassiev. Photo courtesy of World Boxing Super Series
Fighters Network

Murat Gassiev went up against one of the very best in the business and was shown that he had some things to work on.

No surprise. Gassiev came to the pro scene with minimal amateur experience tucked into his belt…But the Russian-born hitter, trained by Abel Sanchez, licked his wounds and took some time to ponder.

Gassiev is back from the hiatus, after taking a loss to Aleksandr Usyk on July 21, 2018, and will now be campaigning in the heavyweight class.

On July 27, Gassiev (26-1 with 19 knockouts) will make his heavyweight debut against Joey Dawejko (19-7-4, 11 KOs), in Arlington, Texas, on a card headlined by the junior lightweight unification battle between Dallas’ WBO champ Maurice Hooker and California’s WBC titlist Jose Ramirez.

DAZN will be the screening platform.

So what will this former cruiserweight titlist – who grabbed the IBF title from Denis Lebedev, in December 2016, and then stopped Krzystof Wlodarczyk and WBA beltholder Yuniel Dorticos, in February 2018, to reach the final of the World Boxing Super Series – bring to the table at heavyweight? What can we expect on July 29, Abel Sanchez?

Murat Gassiev (left) floors Yunier Dorticos in the final round of their WBSS semifinal. Photo credit: Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

Murat Gassiev (left) floors Yunier Dorticos in the final round of their WBSS semifinal. Photo credit: Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

“A savage KO,” the tutor told “I said when I got him that, after three to four years, we would move to heavyweight, I saw he had massive hands for his weight and size then (192 pounds) and I saw the perfect frame for a 225 to 230 (pound) heavyweight.

How much acclimation does Gassiev need for heavyweight? Will the process be incremental or does Gassiev elevate pretty quickly and find himself soon in the title shot mix?

“Before the end of the year, I would like to see a top-10 opponent,” Sanchez replied. “He never sparred cruiserweights. Heavyweights were the only ones I could convince to spar him…so he knows the landscape.”

We talked about a very good chin being a necessary attribute when making this jump.

“So far…Anthony Joshua never showed up like that before and the geniuses are questioning everything, his gold medal and record…He proved everyone can have a bad day,” the trainer said. “His chin is good but these people are only human. We shall see.”

Ruiz is “only” 6-foot-2 and, while meaty, he isn’t a behemoth-sized hitter…The “smaller” guys can use their attributes and topple giants, right?

“We just have to put ourselves in the running and force an opportunity. I always pictured (Gassiev) as a (Evander) Holyfield type. If he can accomplish half what that great fighter did, I’d be a happy man,” the trainer finished.

Dawejko, 28, has been in the news but has stayed silent when asked if the rumors are true. Did he really topple or KO Anthony Joshua in sparring? For sure, he is not a gimme test for Gassiev’s first heavyweight tango.

“I just want to fight – I need big fights,” said Gassiev in a press release. “I haven’t boxed for a year. I am only 25 years old, so I have time but I want to be in big fights. The most important thing for me is to be in shape and fit. I feel good up at heavyweight in the gym. I don’t feel heavy, so I am excited to settle into the weight. I sparred with heavyweights all through my time at cruiserweight and it was good for me but sparring is different. I think that the time is right to move up though and I’m very motivated.”

“This is a very solid heavyweight debut for Murat and a big risk as his first fight,” said promoter Eddie Hearn in that release. “Joey is always competitive against the top heavyweights, most recently against Russia’s Sergey Kuzmin in a fight that could have gone either way. This is an intriguing fight on what will be an outstanding night of boxing, headlined by a potential ‘Fight of the Year’ contender in Hooker vs. Ramirez.”



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