SAN DIEGO, Calif., October 22, 2017 – If you weren’t excited before about the cruiserweight competition in the 2017 World Boxing Super Series, you haven’t been paying attention. Now is the time to start.
Murat Gassiev of Russia (25-0, 18 KOs) propelled himself into the semi-finals with an impressive third round knockout over former IBF champion Krzystof Wlodarczyk (53-4-1, 37 KOs) of Poland at The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Gassiev defends his IBF title and remains undefeated. Gassiev, at 24 by far stronger and faster, got the job done with a left hook body shot that caused the veteran Wlodarczyk, 36, to crumble on the canvas, resembling the work of his stablemate Gennady Golovkin. It was the first loss by knockout or TKO in Wlodarczyk’s career.
Trainer Abel Sanchez said, “I think he’s coming along just like I thought he would. A year-and-a-half ago, I said that he would be the next Golovkin coming out of my gym.” Sanchez said he hope Gassiev would get a little more work, as he only fought two dozen amateur bouts. But we’re sure he’ll take this quick victory.
Gassiev will now face WBA champion Yunier Dorticos of Cuba in the semi-final. Dorticos scored his own impressive second-round TKO victory over Dmitry Kudryashov of Russia in September. Dorticos got into the ring for a face-off with Gassiev. The Cuban had a few choice things to say there and at the post-fight news conference. “Now you’re facing the knockout doctor. I’m going to knock you out.”
The semi-finals are set with Dorticos vs. Gassiev, and Aleksandr Usyk of Ukraine vs. Marius Breidis of Latvia. There isn’t a single loss among the four of them; this is going to change for two of the four in this tournament. No dates or venues yet. If either fight is coming to an arena near you, get your tickets fast.
Up the road at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York, HBO Boxing’s tripleheader produced a surprise when undefeated Puerto Rican prospect Alberto Machado (19-0, 15 KOs) pulled off a stunning eighth round knockout upset of former WBA super featherweight champion Jezreel Corrales (22-2, 8 KOs). Machado now wins the WBA title Corrales lost Friday on the scale by failing to make weight.
Corrales was winning the fight on the scorecards, aided by a missed knockdown by referee Mark Nelson missing a touch of his glove to the canvas. He knocked down and hurt Machado in the fifth round , but Machado refused to give up. He had a puncher’s chance, and following the instructions of trainer Freddie Roach, stayed busy and inside, and found his chance. Corrales misse one of his trademark looping punches, and Machado pounced with a straight left to the jaw, following by a right hook. Corrales fell forward hard. While referee Nelson’s count seemed a little swift, Corrales was seriously hurt and wobbling on his feet as he rose at ten. Nelson called it a night.
“We knew he would come in with those looping shots, those crazy shots. We also took the gamble because he was coming in with a weight advantage. We took the gamble and it paid off,” said Machado.
The elated Machado brings a little joy home to the boxing loving people of Puerto Rico who could use some good news. “I want to tell my people of Puerto Rico that we are a strong and resilient people who have much hope. We will come back. We will rebuild. Just like tonight, you can hit the canvas and rise up victorious.”
“I want a rematch,” said Corrales. “At the end of the day, I know I was winning in the cards and that I gave a beautiful performance. We went head to head and both of us weren’t scared to exchange. It happens in this sport – one punch can take you out.” Corrales should give it up, move up to lightweight, and start fresh. When boxers can’t make weight, it’s disrespectful and potentially dangerous.
In the co-main event, Demetrius Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs) of Rhode Island won his middleweight division debut with a solid but uninspiring unanimous decision over Alantez Fox (23-2-1, 8 KOs) of Maryland. Andrade got caught with a flash knockdown by Fox in the fifth round, although some contend it was a slip, but it hardly mattered as he dominated every other round. Judges scored it 118-110, 118-109, and 116-111.
Andrade, whose poor business and promotional decisions have kept him on the sidelines for long stretches, needed more than just a win to reintroduce himself to boxing fans. He hurt Fox with his first power punch of the fight, but he seemed to lack the drive to finish him off, content along with his father/trainer Paul Andrade to coast to the win. Can you imagine someone like fellow middleweights Canelo, GGG, or Danny Jacobs cruising to a win? Hardly.
In the first world title fight ever held in Belfast, Northern Ireland, native son IBF bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett (18-0, 9 KOs) sent fans home happy with a solid unanimous decision over Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-2, 18 KOs) of Kazakhstan. Burnett adds Zhakiyanov’s WBA title to his list. Judges’ scores were 119-109, 118-110, and 116-112.
The fight resembled two antelope brawling head to head for much of the fight. Burnett hit his stride mid-fight, and began hitting the target with ease in the final rounds. If Burnett had a little more power, Zhakiyanov would not have ended the fight on his feet. It was a good victory for Burnett, who was emotional after hearing the winning scores.
Earlier in the day from Norway, the undisputed top pound for pound women’s professional boxer in the world today, unified welterweight champion Cecelia Braekhus of Norway (32-0, 9 KOs) took out her longtime foe Mikaela Lauren of Sweden (29-5, 13 KOs). Braekus wiped the floor with Lauren in their first match seven years ago in Germany; the end came even faster this time, as Braekhus scored a sixth round stoppage. She retains her IBO, WBC, IBF and WBO titles.
Braekhus is a phenomenon on the women’s side of the sport. Her problem is that she’s running out of worthy opponents at welterweight. Waiting in the wings is American Layla McCarter, fighting out of Las Vegas. We can only dream of bringing ‘The First Lady’ to Sin City for a fight so American fans can see her. Perhaps the time is finally right.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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