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Ukraine's Usyk beats Russian Gassiev to win WBSS final & Muhammad Ali trophy in Moscow

Ukraine's Usyk beats Russian Gassiev to win WBSS final & Muhammad Ali trophy in Moscow
Ukraine's Alexander Usyk is the new undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world after recording a unanimous decision victory over Russia's Murat Gassiev in Moscow in the WBSS tournament to claim the Muhammad Ali trophy.

Usyk now holds all four WBO, WBC, IBF and WBA world titles as well as clinching a top rank in the 200 lbs division as he improved his undefeated streak to 15-0 with the win over Usyk at Moscow's Olimpiyskiy Sports Complex.


Usyk won comfortably by wide scores of 120-108, 119-109, 119-109 by bamboozling a game and tough Gassiev who found no answer to the lightning hand speed and head movement of the Urkainian, who hands Gassiev the first defeat of his career.

The shutout scores made a mockery of a predicted 50/50 matchup between the division's number one and two fighters for the right to claim ownership of each major world title, plus the Ring magazine belt, in addition to the coveted Ali trophy.

Thirty-one-year-old Usyk made every round of his glittering amateur career count in the fight; the 2012 Olympic gold medalist utilized a fine skill set obtained in the unpaid ranks to faint, shimmy and duck past a relentless but ultimately exasperated Murat Gassiev.

Almost from the off, Usyk controlled the pace of the fight with a strong jab that allowed him to throw vicious uppercuts through Gassiev's high guard.

Usyk spent the majority of the fight on the back foot, but held the the center of the ring well and fired off flurries of punches with dizzying speed when the two were at close quarters.

As the fight opened up through the middle rounds, Gassiev did all he could to find a way through and did land some trademark crunching bodyshots to the midriff and one particular pinpoint slip and counter left hook to Usyk's jaw. 

However, too often the 24-year-old plodded forward and would lunge at his target, which was no match for the smart head movement and blistering handspeed in response from his opponent, who would counter with brilliant hooks.

By the time the bout tiptoed into the championship rounds a gap was appearing between both fighters and it became more and more apparent that Gassiev would not be able to find an answer for Usyk's craftiness.

The 12th round ended with an 'Ali shuffle' from Usyk, who was confident that he had done enough to get his quicksilver hands on the trophy named after the fighter who made that move famous.

The judges ringside agreed, and awarded the fight to Usyk 11 rounds to one on two cards with the third judge giving all 12 rounds to Usyk who, with the win, took home all the belts.

For the fighter based in Kiev, perhaps a long-mooted move to heavyweight beckons after unifying his division. British fighter Tony Bellew, the former holder of the WBC belt that Usyk owns, is a name that has been mentioned as a possible next opponent.

Gassiev must now reflect on a first career loss, but with a wealth of experience gained from reaching the final of one of the world's premier boxing tournaments, the best of the fighter from Ossetia must surely be yet to come.