Trainer Abel Sanchez says newly crowned IBF World cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev (24-0, 17 KOs) will be back inside the ring in early 2017 to defend his IBF title after he won the belt off Denis Lebedev (29-3, 22 KOs) last Saturday night in winning a close 12 round split decision at the Khodbyka Ice Palace in Moscow, Russia.
Gassiev put Lebedev down with a liver shot after nailing him with a left to the body in the 5th. Lebedev did a good job of avoiding Gassiev’s follow up body shots he attempted in the round and in the subsequent rounds. Never the less, Gassiev’s superior power, youth, size and pressure eventually wore the 37-year-old Lebedev down and allowed him to win a narrow decision.
Some boxing fans felt that Lebedev did enough to get the win, but the judges felt differently. They scored it 116-112 and 116-111 for Gassiev, and 114-113 for Lebedev. Boxing News Results had Gassiev winning 116-111. Lebedev made it close with his high volume offense in the last seven rounds.
Sanchez said this to RT about Gassiev’s win over Lebedev and his plans for next year:
“Denis made Murat a better fighter by exposing some of the flaws we’re going to work on, but he’s 23-years-old,” said Sanchez about Gassiev. “We know there is inexperience. There is stuff to work on. The ramifications are he’s still a champion of one of the belts. Why they chose not to fight for it, I have no clue why that was done. It didn’t make any sense to me. Any normal person would think if you lose one, you lose both, but that’s the choice they made and the WBA has got to abide by that. Hopefully one of these days in the future we can get a fight again and see which one of these guys correct the mistakes first. He [Murat] was the fresher guy tonight. I hope he fights in the first quarter of next year. It’s a matter of the promoters and managers setting something up so that he can fight again. He’s 23-years-old. I want him back in the gym as soon as possible. You can’t judge the damage on some guy by what he looks like. It could have been that Denis blew his nose and it puffed up his eyes. That doesn’t mean he didn’t get hit that much. Murat doesn’t have a lot of damage to his face, but he got hit with some shots. I think the damage to Denis was more the body shots. I think his ribs should be checked. He’s going to be sore, but I think his face swelling will go down in a couple of days, and he’ll be ready to go in a week. All my guys throw a liver shot. It’s just part of the teaching we have in our gym, and if it lands correct like that one did, then it hurts and it sometimes breaks ribs. But the mistake was for Murat was he kept looking for that shot, but Denis was too smart to allow him to hit him again with that same shot. So that’s something we go back to the gym and we correct.”