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Lebedev vs Gassiev: Fight preview and matchup

Denis Lebedev defends his cruiserweight belts against Murat Gassiev on Saturday in Russia.

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Denis Lebedev vs Murat Gassiev

Denis Lebedev

Marco Huck v Denis Lebedev - WBO World Championship Photo by Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images

Record: 29-2 (22 KO) ... Streak: W4 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 8-2 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5'11" / N/A ... Age: 37

Notes: Lebedev’s had an interesting and successful career. If you go back to his knockout win over Enzo Maccarinelli in 2009, he’s faced various levels of opposition, including overmatched opponents, top contenders, fellow titleholders, and washed-up old men.

Through it all, he’s been seen as one of the top fighters in the cruiserweight division, and with good reason. He’s a solid technician with good power, an incredible toughness, and a great chin. Does he have truly elite skills? Not really -- he’s not going to challenge for a pound-for-pound spot, in other words. But Lebedev is a well rounded fighter and has the experience that Murat Gassiev lacks.

On the flip side of that, Lebedev is 37 years old, so he’s got to be getting to the back end of his career sooner than later, and Gassiev has some physical advantages, too, notably a good four inches of height. But the way that Lebedev has handled Lateef Kayode and Victor Ramirez in his last two fights, plus his wins over Youri Kalenga and Pawel Kolodziej, gives no reason other than the number by “Age” to suspect Lebedev is anywhere near finished. He’s looked as good as ever recently.

Murat Gassiev

Roc Nation Sports Presents throne boxing On April 17 Live On Fox Sports 1 At Foxwoods Resort Casino Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images for Roc Nation Sports

Record: 23-0 (17 KO) ... Streak: W1 ... Last 5: 4-0 (1 NC) ... Last 10: 9-0 (1 NC) ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6’3½" / 76" ... Age: 23

Notes: Gassiev will be fighting in Russia for the first time in over two years. He got his career going at home, plus a few fights fights in Montenegro, Georgia, and Germany, before moving his career to the United States in 2015.

His two most recent fights have been his most notable. A year ago, he faced Isiah Thomas and went to a no contest when Thomas was hit after the bell to end round three, and was unable to continue. On May 17 of this year, he faced Jordan Shimmell and completely overpowered him, knocking the midwestern battler out in 2:54.

Gassiev definitely has big upside and real potential, but this is a very big step up in competition for the 23-year-old. Lebedev is proven at the world class level for the last seven years. Gassiev’s ability appears good enough to compete here, but it’s going to be new information either way.

Matchup Grade: B-. Nothing wrong with this one, really, but Gassiev being unproven can’t be ignored, either.


Eduard Troyanovsky (25-0, 22 KO) will face Julius Indongo (20-0, 10 KO) for Troyanovsky’s IBF 140-pound title. Indongo, nicknamed “Blue Machine,” is a Namibian fighter without a great résumé, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t dangerous here. Troyanovsky is coming off of two wins over Cesar Cuenca and one over Keita Obara, all by stoppage. If he wins this one, here’s hoping we see him on American TV soon. Matchup Grade: B-.

Rakhim Chakhkiev (26-2, 19 KO) takes on Maxim Vlasov (36-2, 19 KO) in a potentially intriguing cruiserweight bout. Vlasov, a former super middleweight, has done well since moving up, including a June stoppage of Ismayl Sillakh, where he came off of the canvas in the first round. Chakhkiev should be favored, but it was just a year ago that he was knocked out in an upset against Ola Afolabi, too. Matchup Grade: C.

Dmitry Kudrayshov (19-1, 19 KO) will match up with Santander Silgado (27-3, 21 KO), a Colombian with past losses to both Lebedev and Chakhkiev. Kudrayshov was upset by Olanrewaju Durodola a year ago, on the same card where Afolabi beat Chakhkiev, so he’s also still trying to get his mojo back a little bit. He’s a big puncher, and Silgado doesn’t have the best chin. Matchup Grade: C-.

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