When Usyk the History-Maker Conquered the World! | World Boxing Super Series
When Usyk the History-Maker Conquered the World!

When Usyk the History-Maker Conquered the World!

21st, July 2020

July 21st marks the two year anniversary of Aleksandr Usyk’s beautiful Moscow masterpiece against Murat Gassiev in the WBSS Season I Cruiserweight Final. A fight that put Usyk in the history books of boxing. 

And what a night it was.

On July 21st, 2018 at the Olimpiyskiy in Moscow, Ukraine’s Aleksandr Usyk became the first winner of the inaugural WBSS with a 12-round boxing clinic against previously unbeaten Russian Murat Gassiev.

With the victory, the 2012 Olympic gold medallist and pride of Ukraine not only captured the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy – named in honour of ‘The Greatest’ – with whom Usyk incidentally shares his birthday. He also became the first man in the history of the sport to unify all four cruiserweight World titles. The Ring belt also came into Usyk’s possession.

It was a hot, humid night in Russia’s capital. The atmosphere inside the 1980 Olympics arena was filled with 24,000 fans expecting to witness a classic. During times with strained political relations between Ukraine and Russia …

“For me, it’s normal to fight abroad,” said Usyk at the pre-fight press conference. “It doesn’t matter which city, which country my opponent is from and I’m not worried about fighting in Moscow.”

“This fight has the attention of fans all over the world,” said Gassiev. “We are going to make history and will make a beautiful fight.

“I don’t think I have an advantage of fighting in Russia, because I know Usyk has many fans here too. I respect my opponent, and I don’t pay attention to where he comes from.”

Like Gassiev, Usyk believed in a beautiful fight.

“When the strong guys meet, the fights are interesting, This is what is so great about this tournament. It is necessary for the sport. I have said it before and I will say it again: the fans should expect a beautiful final!”

Both fighters entered as potential winners of the historic final. It was a true 50-50 fight on paper.

On the road to Moscow Usyk had beaten cruiserweight legend Marco Huck, and won an extremely hard-fought majority decision against Latvia’s Mairis Briedis in which Usyk was pushed like never before in his short, rocketing professional career.

Gassiev had looked just as impressive on his way to the final by blasting Krzysztof Wlodarczyk and producing a stunning performance in the semi with stopping KO artist Yuniel Dorticos in dramatic fashion.

But it was Usyk’s night at the Olimpiyskiy, an arena dating back to 1980 Summer Olympics. Despite the similar levels and merits in the tournament going into the final Usyk gave Gassiev a thorough boxing lesson. Usyk won on impressive scores of 119-109, 119-109, and 120-108. Usyk was dictating the pace from the first bell as he jabbed and moved effectively throughout the bout and dazzled with his speed and skills.

Usyk tells that when he first heard about the WBSS, it fit his ambitions like a glove.

“I remember when I heard that the WBSS would take place and cruiserweight was one of the divisions, the trophy was named after ‘The Greatest’ and four belts were at stake if all the champions participated. My first thought was: It’s a sign!

“My thinking was; I have to participate and God will help me win. I was very happy that I did it! I don’t think the tournament will ever be eclipsed.”

Two years after his boxing masterclass in Moscow, Usyk’s goal is to replicate his cruiserweight achievements in the heavyweight division.

Gassiev hasn’t fought since his defeat in Moscow due to a shoulder injury. He too has moved north to heavyweight, and according to some experts, he is better suited to the weight class Usyk. So maybe one day in the future we will see Usyk and Gassiev share the ring again. That would be beautiful, wouldn’t it?