By Ian S Palmer
Denis Lebedev vs Murat Gassiev Preview December 3rd
IBF and WBA Cruiserweight Champion Denis Lebedev of Russia will be taking on fellow countryman and undefeated Murat Gassiev at the Ice Palace in Moscow this Saturday, December 3rd. Lebedev stopped Victor Emilio Ramirez in the second round in his last contest back in May while Gassiev stopped Jordan Shimmell in the first round in his last bout, which was also back in May. This will be Lebedev’s sixth defence of his WBA title and the first defence of the IBF belt. Lebedev has won four fights in a row since losing to Guillermo Jones by 11th-round KO in May of 2013. Jones later failed a drug test and Lebedev got his title back.
The 37-year-old Lebedev is an awkward, but effective southpaw who has a record of 29-2 along with 22 Kos. He’s won six of his last seven bouts and other than losing to Jones, has also been beaten by Marco Huck on a split decision in 2010. Lebedev likes to brawl and he’s pretty good at it as he owns a knockout ratio of 71 per cent in his 171 pro rounds. He’s got a solid chin even though Jones stopped him. Lebedev, stands 5-feet-11-inches tall but he has an unlisted reach. He’s beaten some good boxers since turning pro in 2001 such as Roy Jones, James Toney, Pawel Kolodziej, Lateef Kayode and Enzo Maccarinelli.
Lebedev is a good combination puncher, but isn’t interested in hearing the judges’ scorecards at the end of his fights. He knows he has a lot of dynamite in his fists and isn’t afraid to let them go and initiate a slugfest. He’s won eight of his past 10 victories by knockout and will be looking to do the same against Gassiev. The challenger will have a decent chance though if he can stand up to Lebedev’s power and land some telling blows of his own, but that might be easier said than done.
The 23-year-old Gassiev has a perfect record of 23-0 along with 17 Kos. He turned pro back in 2011 and has fought 93 rounds since then. He’s also got good power in his fists as his current knockout ratio stands at 71 per cent, which is exactly the same as Lebedev’s. He also has a pretty good height advantage as he’s just over 6-feet-3-inches tall with a 76-inch reach. North American fans may be familiar with Gassiev as his last five contests have been fought in the continent. Gassiev has faced some familiar names such as Felix Cora Jr., Rodney Moore and Isiah Thomas.
Gassiev has a big advantage in age and has basically the same power as Lebedev and has eight-straight Kos. He’s also got a decent size advantage while the champion has the edge in experience. At the age of 37, Lebedev may have met his match here, but only if Gassiev lets his hands go more than he usually does. He can’t wait around to be nailed by a big shot by Lebedev. This is a close call and it depends on who can land their power shots first. Let’s give the younger Gassiev the benefit of the doubt here and take him by stoppage.