The World Boxing Association (WBA) Classifications Committee announced its rankings for July, which includes the 15 best boxers in the 17 weight divisions. Only these boxers have the possibility of aspiring to a world title fight within their respective divisions.
The “Boxer of the Month” distinction was awarded to Oleksandr Usyk, who beat Murat Gassiev via unanimous decision to be crowned the WBA Light Heavyweight Champion.
The bout took place at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow and was the final in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) and the bout itself was great to watch from a technical chess match perspective, with Usyk circling and jabbing in the very first round as Gassiev, notoriously a slow starter, was looking to get his motor warmed up.
Gassiev, however, never really was able to get going but it was not for a lack of effort – he was simply outclassed throughout the fight. Gassiev landed some great hooks to the body and some powerful right hands to the head but Usyk was in superb condition and took them without issue.
Usyk was out-throwing and out-landing Gassiev at double to triple the rate from round to round due to being the ring general that was having the fight fought at his distance and on his terms as he dictated with the jab and answered anything Gassiev landed with combinations of his own.
Gassiev could not manage to change the fight and his game plan was not able to adapt to turn things around, with Usyk even electing to stand and trade with Gassiev a bit in the eleventh round, with his hands being too fast and combination punching being too sharp for Gassiev to take full advantage, or land something to turn the tide of the fight.
The scorecards were a foregone conclusion as the fight finished, with Usyk even adding a nice little version of the “Ali Shuffle” just before the final bell rang to end the fight. With the victory, Usyk joined a rare category of fighter to become undisputed champion while also winning the Muhammad Ali trophy.
In the post fight, Gassiev congratulated Usyk “I want to congratulate Usyks team, they did a great job. This is a very good experience for me, he proved he is the best.”
Usyk also credited his team, saying “I give credit to all of my team for this win, my team made me look as good as I did in the ring tonight.”
As for future plans Usyk is perhaps looking at a potential move to heavyweight “I heard Tony Bellew is looking to fight the winner of this tournament. Hey Tony – are you ready for me?” while also adding that he is willing to go up in weight and eat extra spaghetti to fight ‘The Bomber’.
It was a sweet fight and a sweet victory for the Ukrainian, and perhaps it was his extreme confidence heading into the bout that won it for him, as post fight he claimed ”My wife has already made a special place for this trophy in my home.”
The honorable mention for the boxer of the month distinction is Alberto Machado, Rafael Mensah via unanimous decision while handing the Ghana native the first loss of his professional career. Machado showed improved skills under the tutelage of Freddie Roach and has a very bright future.