Murat Gassiev (24-0, 17 KOs) dethroned IBF cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev (29-2, 22 KOs) last Saturday night in beating the 37-year-old Russian fighter by a 12 round split decision at the MegaSport Arena in Moscow, Russia.
The fight could have been an easier one for the 23-year-old Gassiev, but he failed to stay busy during many of the rounds in the second half of the fight. This allowed Lebedev to win rounds by just being busy without landing anything spectacular. Gassiev was always landing the better shots in the fight with his superior punching power, but Lebedev took a lot of rounds by throwing a massive amount of shots while Gassiev covered up.
The scores were 116-112, 116-111 for Gassiev, and 114-113 for Lebedev.
Gassiev knocked Lebedev to the canvas in the 5th round with a body shot. Before the knockdown, Gassiev had hurt Lebedev with two lefts to the body that backed him up. When Gassiev finally landed the third body shot, Lebedev sunk to the canvas in pain. Gassiev tried to finish Lebedev off after he got back to his feet, but the experienced Russian fighter was able to make it out of the round without going down again.
Lebedev changed his tactics after the 5th by throwing a lot of punches, and using movement. Gassiev made it easy on Lebedev by not throwing shots with him. Gassiev would wait for Lebedev to finish throwing his punches before he would let his own hands go. Lebedev was able to take advantage of this flaw in Gassev’s game by throwing continuous shots with little power on them.
It didn’t matter that Lebedev wasn’t throwing with power. He was still able to get the better of Gassiev by throwing nonstop punches in many of the rounds in the second half of the fight. Never the less, Gassiev was landing occasional shots that forced Lebedev to go on the run in the 8th. Lebedev used a lot of movement to keep out of range of Gassiev’s shots. Gassiev was still able to get to Lebedev at times to connect with some big shots to win the rounds.
Lebedev was able to keep his World Boxing Association cruiserweight title, which wasn’t on the line for the fight. Lebedev will be defending that title next against WBA ‘regular’ champion Beibut Shumenov.
The victory for Gassiev showed that he’s now one of the top fighters in the cruiserweight division. For Gassiev to keep his IBF title, he’s going to need to learn how to punch while his opponent is punching him. Gassiev can’t go into sparring partner mode and just wait until his opponents stop throwing punches before he lets his hands go, because he’ll lose fights that way.
Gassiev also needs to learn how to throw more punches and be busier. He has too many lulls in his game for him to beat the better cruiserweights like Oleksandr Usyk. Gassiev also needs to get better at cutting off the ring. He’s too slow with his feet in cutting off the ring, and this gives his opponents a hug advantage over him.