Lebedev handed tough defense of WBA / IBF belts versus Gassiev

Clarence George 22/09/2016

Stacey Verbeek

Denis Lebedev will defend his WBA Super World and IBF World cruiserweight titles over a scheduled 12 rounds against Murat Gassiev in Moscow on Saturday, December 3.

The 37-year-old Russian champ is a 15-year pro, though out of the ring from ’05 to ’07 (29-2, 22 KOs), who won the interim WBA World cruiserweight title in November 2011 by beating James Toney via unanimous decision.

The southpaw was upgraded to “regular” championship status in October 2012. He lost the title in May 2013, kayoed by Guillermo Jones in the 11th, but was awarded the belt after Jones was stripped five months later. Upon stopping Victor Emilio Ramirez by second-round TKO this May, Lebedev was declared “super” champion, gaining the IBF strap at the same time.

Also a Russian, Gassiev, who’ll turn 23 on October 12, is a five-year ring vet (23-0, 17 KOs, 1 No Contest) who’s won some minor and regional titles, including the then-vacant IBF Inter-Continental cruiserweight belt in October 2014 by stopping Engin Karakaplan via first-round TKO. Sixth-ranked by the WBA, “Iron” last fought this May, knocking out never-before-stopped Jordan Shimmell in the first.

Should Lebedev emerge victorious over Gassiev, he’ll likely face Beibut Shumenov, WBA World cruiserweight titlist.

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