Undefeated cruiserweight titleholders Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev meet in an undisputed cruiserweight championship bout of the highest caliber July 21 in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) cruiserweight tournament.
Usyk vs. Gassiev is a pay-per-view bout in most countries via ITV Box Office, but viewers in the U.S. will need to stream the fight via KlowdTV (one-time cost of $10) starting at 3:00 PM ET.
According to top boxing betting sites such as Karamba, the bout is a virtual pick'em on the outright win market headed into the fight. Boxing betting strategy reflects what should be a hotly contested bout.
Usyk-Gassiev is an excellent matchup between two very exciting, highly decorated and extremely talented competitors.
The winner of the bout will become just the third undisputed cruiserweight champion in history, as well as the first undisputed cruiserweight champion of the four-belt sanctioning era. The four current sanctioning bodies recognized today are the IBF, WBA, WBA and WBO. The four-belt era began in the early 2000s when the other sanctioning bodies started to recognize relative upstart WBO as a legitimate world title.
As if that wasn’t enough, the fighter who wins Usyk-Gassiev will be just the second fighter in any weight class ever to win all six of the major world championships existing today. The six championships consist of the four alphabet sanctioning body titles plus the championships given by Ring Magazine and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB).
Junior welterweight Terence Crawford was the first fighter to achieve that recognition when he defeated Julius Indongo last year.
This is the first season of the WBSS, an annual boxing tournament inviting eight fighters from select weight classes to compete in a bracket-style tournament for prize money as well as the WBSS Muhammad Ali trophy.
Season one of the WBBS featured fighters from the cruiserweight and super middleweight divisions. Usyk-Gassiev is the final fight of the cruiserweight tournament bracket, with super middleweights George Groves and Callum Smith set to square off in the final of their bracket before the end of the year.
Next season’s WBSS will feature three weight divisions instead of two. Tournaments in the bantamweight and super lightweight divisions are already confirmed with an announcement for the third weight class scheduled to come.
Both Usyk and Gassiev are considered elite cruiserweights.
Usyk (14-0, 11 KOs) is a 31-year-old southpaw and was the 2012 Olympic heavyweight gold medalist for Ukraine. Usyk is the current WBC and WBO cruiserweight champion. He’s ranked No. 1 in the division per both the TBRB and Ring Magazine.
Gassiev (26-0, 19 KOs) is a 24-year old from Russia. He’s he WBA and IBF cruiserweight champion, and is ranked No 2 by both the TBRB and Ring Magazine. Gassiev is often compared to middleweight Gennady Golovkin, perhaps because the two train together under Abel Sanchez in California.
The winner of the bout is likely to move up to the heavyweight ranks after the fight in hopes of following in the footsteps of former undisputed cruiserweight champion Evander Holyfield, who went on to do the same at heavyweight.
Usyk opened as a slight favorite on top betting sites in February at around -275 with Gassiev at +215, but since the beginning of June the odds have shortened considerably to become almost even.
Before placing a bet on this matchup, it’s probably best at this point to at least wait and have a look at the two fighters when they weigh in on Friday. If either has trouble making the cruiserweight limit of 200 pounds, it seems worthwhile in a fight this evenly matched to throw money behind the fighter who didn’t.
If there are no weigh-in shenanigans, a slight majority of people who follow boxing very closely seem to be leaning toward Gassiev to win the fight. While a winner either way wouldn’t be a surprise, Gassive’s style is very aggressive, and he has power in both hands to end the fight with a single punch.
Boxing bookmakers such as Ladbrokes have solid values for either fight to win in round 11 or 12. If I were playing in this one, I’d place at least a small wager on whichever fighter I like in the fight--in this case Gassiev--to win in 11 or 12 at +2500. Those who favor Usyk can make the same place but at +4000.