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Dublin: 11°C Thursday 28 January 2021

Silky-smooth Usyk schools Gassiev to become undisputed world champ and lift Ali Trophy

The stylish Ukrainian dominated the dangerous Russian to win the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament.

IT WAS UKRAINE’S night in Moscow as a long-mooted fight-of-the-year contender wound up being no more than a mildly precarious stroll in the park for Oleksandr Usyk.

But so graceful was the Kiev southpaw in defusing Russian weapon Murat Gassiev, Saturday night’s lopsided lesson could scarcely have been deemed disappointing by the neutral observer.

The 31-year-old Usyk inflicted upon Gassiev a first professional defeat to win the inaugural World Boxing Super Series final, becoming the undisputed World cruiserweight champion in the process. Usyk is the only undisputed kingpin in male professional boxing.

In only his 16th professional fight, a masterclass in pugilism saw the mesmerising Usyk earn a unanimous decision on scores of 120-108, 119-109 and 119-109 in his fearsome foe’s back yard.

The 2012 Olympic champion came into the bout as the holder of the WBO and WBC belts but neutralised the nuclear-fisted Gassiev and departed with his IBF and WBA straps.

Fittingly, on the night in which he won the final of the eight-man tournament and became the first ever recipient of the Ali Trophy, Usyk finished with a five-punch fusillade followed by an Ali Shuffle, which even the home faithful – baying for his blood all night – couldn’t help but enjoy.

According to CompuBox, Usyk landed 252 of 939 (27%) punches, easily outpacing Gassiev who landed just 91 of 313 (29%) over 12 rounds. Usyk landed more jabs than Gassiev landed total shots (Gassiev landed just nine jabs of his own), and the Ukrainian also found his target with 153 power shots to Gassiev’s 82.

The silky southpaw dictated the pace from round one and, in truth, was so dominant that Gassiev deserves some credit for even bothering to go the distance despite his spirit conspicuously being broken.

The Russian was, to his credit, more than magnanimous in defeat.

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Usyk has now beaten his three nearest contenders in the cruiserweight division and now has just one name in mind. Bizarrely, that name is Tony Bellew.

Indeed, Usyk declared post-fight that he would “eat extra spaghetti for dinner” in order to force himself up in weight if Bellew – recently campaigning at heavy – can’t come back down to cruiser.

“I heard that Tony Bellew wants to fight the winner of the Muhammad Ali trophy,” Usyk said. “I hope he sees me talking. Hey Tony Bellew, are you ready?”

Ireland’s Ryan Burnett is one of eight men who has entered the bantamweight rendition of the World Boxing Super Series.

The former unified world champion from Belfast’s Antrim Road selected Nonito Donaire as his quarter-final opponent at the draft gala in Moscow, which was held on the eve of Saturday’s cruiserweight final.

The WBA World champ and ‘The Filipino Flash’ – who was recently defeated by Carl Frampton up at featherweight – sat down for a meal following Burnett’s selection.

Top seed Burnett and four-weight world champion Donaire will square off in the autumn. So too will George Groves and Callum Smith, who clash for 168-pound WBSS honours.

A light-welterweight tournament will kick off concurrently to Burnett’s bantamweight assault.

Ireland’s Ryan Burnett selects familiar four-weight world champ for Super Series quarter-final

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