The Mayweather vs. McGregor fiasco has drowned out most of the news surrounding the World Boxing Super Series, which is a shame since there’s a lot to look forward to. Starting in September, some of the biggest names in the cruiserweight and super middleweight divisions will be featured in a bracket-style knockout competition.
The cruiserweight division is where the action is. With WBC champ Mairis Briedis, IBF champ Murat Gassiev, and WBO champ Oleksandr Usyk putting it all on the line, we could be crowning the first undisputed champion since 2006. If you want a piece of the pie, check out our review of the top five sportsbooks to find the best place for you to put your money.
The first round features some seemingly easy match-ups for our cruiserweight champs. Let’s take a look at what they’re up against. Here’s a preview of the two must-watch cruiserweight bouts.
Murat Gassiev (-1400) vs. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (+800), Draw (+4000)
IBF champ Murat Gassiev (24-0, 17 KOs) takes on two-time former cruiserweight world champion Krzysztof Włodarczyk (53-3, 37 KOs) in an IBF-ordered fight. It will also be the first-round fight of the World Boxing Super Series.
At just 23 years old, Gassiev is already well on his way to becoming one of the greats of the cruiserweight division after beating his fellow countryman, Denis Lebedev, to claim the IBF title. It was a momentous win against one of the best cruiserweights around.
Włodarczyk is a former IBF and WBC champion, but after his loss to Grigory Drozd in 2014, the 35-year-old Pole has struggled to revive his career. He’s had four straight victories since losing the title, but they’ve all been against unknown fighters. Most recently, he took a split decision win against the little-known Noel Gevor.
While Wlodarczyk is on the decline, Gassiev is only getting better. The young Russian prodigy hasn’t lost a professional fight yet and I don’t think it’ll happen at the hands of the aging Włodarczyk.
Pick: Murat Gassiev (-1400)
Oleksandr Usyk (-1200) vs. Marco Huck (+1150), Draw (+4000)
Olympic gold medalist and WBO cruiserweight champ Oleksandr Usyk (12-0, 10 KOs) spent most of his career boxing at the amateur level and now the 30-year-old is making up for lost time. After just 12 professional fights, the Ukranian southpaw is already the top-ranked cruiserweight according to The Ring magazine. He faces the prolific Marco Huck (40-4-1, 27 KOs) in the first round of the World Boxing Super Series.
Usyk became a world champion in just his tenth professional fight, beating out Krzysztof Głowacki for the WBO title. He’s since had two easy title defenses against Thabiso Mchunu and Michael Hunter. Having spent the majority of his fighting career as an amateur, Usyk has become an extremely technical fighter for someone his size. Under the tutelage of Vasyl Lomachenko’s father and trainer, Anatoly Lomachenko, there probably isn’t a cruiserweight that can outbox him.
Over a career spanning 45 fights, Huck has made a whopping 14 title defenses. He held his WBO title for over five years and made 13 successful defenses, a record only bettered by Johnny Nelson.
The aggressive, hard-hitting German is an interesting match-up for Usk. But after recently losing against two of the biggest names in the division — Głowacki and Mairis Briedis — I don’t think Huck will fare well against the top-ranked cruiserweight in the world.
Pick: Oleksandr Usyk (-1200