By Keith Idec

After he went face-to-face with Murat Gassiev following their weigh-in Friday afternoon, Yunier Dorticos made a bold prediction.

The Cuban knockout artist promised he’ll knock out the undefeated Gassiev before the fifth round in their cruiserweight title unification fight Saturday night at Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi, Russia. Their scheduled 12-rounder also is a semifinal match in the World Boxing Super Series’ cruiserweight tournament.

“Tomorrow, everybody that’s here, all the fans, with all respect to everybody, I’m gonna show that I’m one of the best after I kick his ass,” Dorticos said through a translator. “This is not gonna go to a decision. I’m gonna knock him out before the fifth round.”

Dorticos (22-0, 21 KOs) produced the most spectacular knockout of the tournament in the quarterfinals. The WBA’s “super” cruiserweight champion stopped another Russian, Dmitry Kudryashov (21-2, 21 KOs), in the second round September 23 in San Antonio.

Gassiev (25-0, 18 KOs, 1 NC) also knocked out his opponent, Poland’s Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (53-4-1, 37 KOs), with a body shot in the third round of their quarterfinal October 21 in Newark, New Jersey.

“After I knock him out,” Dorticos said, “I’m gonna tell him, ‘Hey, I want a picture with you.’ ”

The 31-year-old Dorticos officially weighed in Friday at the cruiserweight limit of 200 pounds. The 24-year-old Gassiev weighed 199¼ pounds.

Gassiev, who owns the IBF cruiserweight championship, hasn’t taken any of Dorticos’ trash talk personally.

“Of course, it’s boxing and all fighters want to hit each other,” Gassiev said. “It’s normal. Nothing special for me. I do my job. That’s it.”

He isn’t anxious, either, about boxing Dorticos in his native Russia. Gassiev, who trains in Big Bear Lake, California, has fought almost exclusively in the United States over the past three years.

“It’s not pressure,” Gassiev said. “I’m happy. It’s a good event for Russian boxing fans. My family comes and can watch my fight live. It’s not extra pressure, just a normal situation for me.”

The winner between Dorticos and Gassiev will advance to the WBSS cruiserweight final on an undetermined May date in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk (14-0, 11 KOs), the WBC/WBO cruiserweight champ, secured his spot in the final by out-boxing Mairis Briedis (23-1, 18 KOs) and winning a 12-round unanimous decision Saturday night in Riga, Latvia, Briedis’ hometown.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.