Record: 25-0 (18 KO) ... Streak: W25 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6’3½” / 76” ... Age: 24
Thoughts: Just looking at Gassiev, the word “rugged” springs to mind. And rugged he is.
We’ve seen Gassiev blitz opponents quickly, as he did to Jordan Shimmell in May 2016, and we’ve seen him go a hard 12, as he did with Denis Lebedev in December 2016, getting a split decision win in Moscow that had no business being a split decision other than judge Pawel Kardyni was on some bullshit.
It was with that win over Lebedev that Gassiev, still a very young fighter, legitimized himself. He took the IBF title from Lebedev, as well as the veteran’s spot as the top Russian cruiserweight in the sport.
Last October, in his WBSS quarterfinal fight, Gassiev was back to the quick KO style of victory, knocking out former titleholder and longtime top fighter Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in the third round, setting up this highly intriguing matchup with Dorticos, a KO artist himself.
Record: 22-0 (21 KO) ... Streak: W22 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6’3” / 80” ... Age: 31
Thoughts: When he was a young man in the pro ranks, I thought Dorticos was a somewhat dirty (or, to put it another way, clever) fighter who was bowling over and knocking out inferior competition. His 2011 fight with Livin Castillo springs to mind quickly.
Now here we are in 2018. Dorticos is a world champion, holding the WBA cruiserweight title. And, uh, he’s kept on knocking people out. The only man to last the distance with Dorticos was veteran Edison Miranda back in 2014, which is odd, really, as Miranda is a natural middleweight and was well past his best days, and had been stopped four times previously at various weights.
Dorticos absolutely bucks the stereotype of Cubans as low-risk technicians. He fights a risky style, not stupidly, but somewhat recklessly at times. He went to war with Youri Kalenga in May 2016, stopping Kalenga in the 10th round. In his WBSS quarterfinal matchup, he iced Dmitry Kudryashov, another dangerous puncher, in the second round last September.
Dorticos is must-see TV at this point. He knocks guys out, he’s proven he can fight at a high level, and he doesn’t mess around in the ring.
Grade: A-. Last week’s Usyk-Briedis fight didn’t promise great action, but was seen as a meeting of the 1-2 fighters in the weight class. In the end, it delivered quite good action, and made its case that it was between the two best fighters. Gassiev-Dorticos is different, but I’m giving the same matchup grade. If they were 1-2, Gassiev and Dorticos are probably 3-4 (or, really, 2-3 now that Briedis has suffered a defeat). The winner of this will be seen as the No. 2 man in the division, behind Usyk, setting up a 1-2 for all four major belts. And this fight promises big action, as both guys can punch and Dorticos in particular does not come to fight 12 rounds if he can help it. This thing could be over in the first few rounds, or it might get dragged out into a real battle. Either way, I highly doubt we’ll be bored.