By Luke Furman
WBA "super" cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev believes his countryman, IBF champion Murat Gassiev, will get beaten by WBA 'regular' champion Yunier Dorticos when they collide early next year in the semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) tournament.
On Saturday, Gassiev made his first defense of the International Boxing Federation (IBF) beating, by knocking out veteran and former world champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in the third round of their WBSS quarter-final bout in Newark, New Jersey.
Lebedev is very familiar with Gassiev. He lost a twelve round split decision to the undefeated fighter last December in Moscow.
In a strange twist, Lebedev would only stake his IBF title in that contest - since Gassiev was the mandatory challenger - and refused to put up his WBA belt - which created a situation where Lebedeve, win or lose, left as a world champion.
Lebedev was dropped hard in the fifth round from a hook to the body. The punch nearly finished him off and it was similar to the body shot that crippled Wlodarczyk for the full count on Saturday.
"I will probably even root for Murat in the hope that he will win this Super Series, and then we will probably be able to fight with him again, it will be a beautiful fight. I have no complaints against him, but it will be great if Murat wins in the Super Series and we fight again," Lebedev said to Dilshad Lomovskikh.
"Wlodarczyk tuned in to have one kind of fight, but it turned out differently... it's boxing, everyone wants to fulfill their plan. Wlodarczyk did the job calmly, in his own way, and Murat got better.... a good punch landed to the body, to the right side, about the same kind of punch that got me and it was impossible to for him to take it."
Having said that, Lebedev believes Dorticos will prove to be a very difficult foe for Gassiev.
"Dorticos is also a good boxer. His movements and punching techniques will work against Murat. The Cuban throws a lot of punches. He blew past Dmitry Kudryashov. My opinion is that [Dorticos] will win against Murat. He has a good speed, he can fight at a distance and at close range, and Murat pays little attention to movements, defense. He simply cuts off the ring and presses forward. But this is boxing, he can always create a surprise, in any fight."
Luke Furman covers boxing for bokser.org