Murat Gassiev, the former cruiserweight champion, continued his unbeaten start to life in the heavyweight division with a spectacular knockout victory over Mike Balogun. Gassiev, who was inactive for nearly four years since moving up to the heavyweight division, was able to dispatch Balogun in just two rounds. The win was the fourth inside-distance win for Gassiev at heavyweight, with all four of his heavyweight fights ending in a knockout.
The fight took place in Armenia, where Balogun arrived with an undefeated record of 20-0 and 16 knockouts. Despite the impressive record, Balogun was unable to cope with Gassiev’s power and precision, and was put away with the only right hand that Gassiev landed. The Russian appeared to gesture to his right, beckoning Balogun to move away from the corner he was close to, and as the 39-year-old moved around, Gassiev fired his rear hand around Balogun’s guard. Balogun dropped heavily and was unable to continue after the referee administered his count.
The win was a significant step for Gassiev, who had been inactive since his move to heavyweight. At 238lb, it was also his career heaviest, and nearly 40lbs heavier than he was when he lost a decision to Oleksandr Usyk for all the cruiserweight belts in July 2018. Gassiev, who stands at 6ft 3 1/2in, will need to prove himself against taller heavyweights in the division if he hopes to make a real impact.
While Balogun was not one of the taller heavyweights, the southpaw appeared to be moving well in the first round, looking to set up his attacks behind a stiff jab. However, Gassiev’s power was too much for him in the end, and he was unable to withstand the Russian’s right hand.
Despite his impressive victory, Gassiev is still some way off from the top 10 in the division. Attention will now turn to quickly putting together a credible run of victories to climb the ranks. Names such as Dereck Chisora have already been mentioned as potential opponents for Gassiev, and it will be interesting to see who he faces next.
At just 29 years old, Gassiev still has time to craft an assault on the upper reaches of the heavyweight division. With his power and precision, he has the potential to make a real impact, but he will need to prove himself against sterner tests than Balogun. If he can continue to build on his unbeaten record, the heavyweight division could have a new contender on its hands.