Warriors Boxing and Ural Boxing wish to congratulate the fighter they co-promote, brand-new IBF Cruiserweight World Champion Murat “Iron” Gassiev, for his title-winning victory on December 3 against Denis Lebedev at the Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow, Russia.
In an entertaining fight, Gassiev (24-0, 17 KOs) of Vladikavkaz, Russia, dropped his countryman Lebedev in the fifth round and won a split decision by scores of 116-112 and 116-111 against a score of 114-113 for the now-former champ.
In losing, Lebedev remained the WBA World Champion, as that belt was not on the line in the fight… which is where Warriors’ challenge to the boxing world lies.
“I challenge anyone in the boxing world to give me a logical explanation why Denis Lebedev was allowed to keep his WBA title after losing,” said Leon Margules, President of Warriors Boxing. “Neither fighter was over the cruiserweight limit. This was a unified champion defending his titles. It’s absurd and it sets a dangerous precedent in boxing. Why would any unified champion ever put all their belts on the line again if they could keep one or two, even if they lose?”
The pair were supposed to meet for both the WBA and IBF belts, but somehow less than a week before the fight, the WBA was convinced to allow this highly irregular move, which allowed Lebedev to remain WBA Super World Cruiserweight Champion, win or lose, above WBA “Regular” World Champion Beibut Shumenov and WBA “Interim” World Champion Yunier Dorticos.
“We went along with this travesty and fought anyway, but only because Lebedev’s team threatened to pull the fight if we didn’t. It’s a ridiculous situation and I want the boxing world to know what went down here.”
Margules says Lebedev’s camp are now using the Russian media to claim Gassiev is refusing a rematch.
“Let me set that straight right now. We would LOVE to fight Lebedev again. We’ll beat him even more easily this time. But only if he actually puts the WBA belt on the line, the one my guy has already won from him in the eyes of everyone but the sanctioning body.”
Boxing politics aside, Margules and his team say they are happy with the way the 23-year-old Gassiev looked in going 12 rounds for the first time in his life.
“Murat fulfilled the promise he has shown throughout his ascension to the top of the division,” said Margules. “He was in his first 12-rounder and he kept his composure. He didn’t blow his energy when he had the guy down in the fifth. And he didn’t panic when the champion, who is a very tough guy, had a few good rounds in the middle of the fight. I am very happy to be promoting a terrific fighter like him.”
“He reminds me of a young Rocky Marciano,” said Warriors Boxing’s COO Luis DeCubas. “He’s like a tank coming forward that you can’t stop. He will get to you eventually. He’s a star in this sport. I am sure the Shumenov/Dorticos winner would much rather fight the real unified champion Gassiev, instead of the loser Lebedev. These types of situations really hurt our sport.”