Oleksandr Usyk vs. Murat Gassiev Pick

Oleksandr Usyk vs. Murat Gassiev Fight Preview and Prediction to Win
When: Saturday, July 21, 2018
Where: Olympic Stadium, Moscow, Russia
Weight Class: Cruiserweight: 200 Pounds
Titles: World Cruiserweight Title
By Loot, Boxing Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Oleksandr Usyk, 14-0 (11 KOs), Kiev, Ukraine
Murat Gassiev, 26-0 (19 KOs), Russia

Betting Odds: Oleksandr Usyk (-165), Murat Gassiev (+145)

Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev battle it out in the final of World Boxing Super Series final on July 21 in Moscow. This closes out what has been a tremendous tournament designed to crown a clear cruiserweight king. Both men are undefeated and the stakes are as high as they get for the oft-maligned cruiserweight class. Gassiev scored two stoppages to get here, beating Krzysztof Wlodarczyk and Yunier Dorticos to get here. Usyk, meanwhile, beat Marco Huck and Mairis Breidis to get to the final. This should be a dandy.

It’s hard to think of a more-important cruiserweight fight in the nearly-40 year history of this division. There have been some big cruiserweight fights, but nothing that approaches this, considering the credentials of the fighters and the stakes of this bout. The 200-pound division is in the midst of a renaissance, of sorts, with a lot of good fighters vying for the top spot. This tournament was a tough one, with both Usyk and Gassiev thriving over good opposition to get to this final. The winner of this fight will boast of a gem on their resume that is hard for any cruiserweight in the past to equal. Sure, Evander Holyfield cleaned out the division years ago, but not against this level of opposition. So make no mistake about it—this is as big as it gets for this weight class.

Usyk is really a handful. At 31, he is on the verge of doing some special things. He had an expansive and highly-successful amateur career that culminated in a gold medal win in the 2012 London Olympics. He stands 6’3″ and is gifted across many areas. Despite only 14 fights, he has started racking up some big wins in this division—beating some top cruiserweights en route to this spot. With a win here, the heavyweight division might be on the horizon. He’s that good. But first, he must overcome the stiff challenge of the very formidable Gassiev.


Gassiev is just 24 and wasn’t that accomplished at the amateur level like Usyk. He started rising up the pro ranks, eventually working with Abel Sanchez and expanding on his considerable skills. Working with top fighters and a well-respected trainer seems to have really helped round out his overall game. A win over Denis Lebedev earned him a world title and a spot in this tournament, where he has shined with two KO wins, first over Wlodarczyk and then the big win over the dangerous Dorticos. He is another fighter blessed with good size at 6’4″ who will be fighting at heavyweight at some point, perhaps after this fight.

Gassiev is a very solid fighter. He stays composed and never comes outside of himself. He has a certain level of maturity and calm that belies his young age. He was very clinical against the hard-punching Dorticos in the tournament semifinal bout, dissecting his opponent with the disposition of a surgeon. He has already scored some big wins and he has done it in some pretty exotic locations. At any rate, Gassiev is the full package—a nuanced fighter with a lot of skills who can hurt you.

Gassiev is pretty lanky at 6’4″ but offers a solidness that one might not suspect from his long frame. His stance is hard to crack, as he offers a small target, despite his size. He is a good athlete and moves in the ring accordingly, in a very natural way. He can fight at different ranges and might surprise some with how well he handles himself on the inside. For this fight, he will be looking to exploit that. Usyk likes to use his legs and Gassiev will be looking to get inside, which is easier said than done. But Gassiev can move well too, with a good set of legs and very economical upper-body movement that makes it hard on opponents to connect solidly.

Gassiev brings a lot to the table. He’s very patient and calculating. He never seems to come outside of himself, as he is always collected and poised. He has an innate sense of what the opponent is trying to do and the relaxation to calmly slip and side-step his opponents’ advances. His lead left hand is a dangerous punch and he’s able to launch attacks in a very sudden fashion that makes it hard to anticipate for opponents. He works the angles and is unpredictable with his offense. He does a lot of things on an expert level and in a low-key kind of way that makes him a sneaky kind of fighter. Against Usyk, however, he will be taking on a fighter with a lot of talent and ability—beyond anything he has thrived against in getting to this point.

Usyk has scored some big wins, as well. And like Gassiev, he has done it in hostile territory, beating Marco Huck in Germany and Glowacki in Poland. In his last win, over the very tough Mairis Breidis, he narrowly won a 12-round decision. But that was against one of those cruiserweights that has helped make this weight class as good as it’s ever been. It’s a deep division, with some fighters outside of American fans’ viewpoints. The closeness of that fight aside, Usyk just might be the best of the lot.

Usyk fights out of the southpaw stance, adding another layer of difficulty to the puzzle. He is adept at taking away certain angles from his foes, offering a small target. That right-hand jab of his is a serious weapon. Combine that with a set of thoroughbred legs and already he’s a tough man to beat. It’s up to opponents to show Usyk they can get past that jab and get inside, at which point he can open up with a vast arsenal of shots. He has good size at 6’3″ and his movement is a serious weapon.

Usyk has great stamina and it lets him use his legs well for an entire fight. There is a naturalness to his work and he’s proven over a championship distance. He can dart in quickly and do damage on the inside, but long-range boxing is his game. He doesn’t seem interested in trading on the inside for the most part. Allowing him to do that is expert positioning and great feet where he’s always on-balance and able to shift and maneuver effortlessly. He’s not an easy guy to pin down. He twists from shots, while also using movement and getting his gloves up to avoid shots. He’s a big, fluid, coordinated fighter with talent on offense and defense. Usyk moves his head well and is very versatile defensively. He will be a much harder nut to crack for Gassiev than the guys he has fought leading up to this spot.

I see this being a fight that takes place at a tempered pace. The stakes are high in terms of rewards with the cost of making a mistake being very high in this fight. I see Usyk as being the more-talented and natural fighter. But this is a spot where it’s easy to underrate the abilities of Gassiev, who might not leap off the screen with what he does, but is the type of fighter who is just a very difficult task. I still think the greater overall dimensions of Usyk will have him in good shape for this bout, although it won’t be easy.

Loot’s Pick to Win the Fight: I’m betting on Oleksandr Usyk at -165 betting odds. Bet this fight for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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