Usyk vs. Gassiev—Lost in a Klowd

By Marc Livitz on July 20, 2018
Usyk vs. Gassiev—Lost in a Klowd
What time will the bout be on HBO? Not on HBO? Perhaps Showtime, ESPN or Fox Sports?

We have two unbeaten champions. We have all the sanctioned ‘alphabet’ belts at stake. We have Ukraine against Russia. Sounds good, does it not?

How often do we see the boxing world clamoring over an upcoming high profile championship bout even through the majority of us won’t get to watch it live? This isn’t a case of not having HBO, Showtime or the small wad of cash needed to purchase a bout on pay TV. Instead, it’s yet another instance of one of the sport’s sadly forgotten divisions, that of the cruiserweights.

No one would fault the average fight fan for not being able to cite more than two combatants in the weight class which tops out at 200 pounds. There are no such problems with, say, the loaded welterweight division or the middleweights or even the heavyweights. The void created by the retirement of such names as Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield is in the midst of its own renaissance, even though its importance hinges greatly upon two names of the present.

Saturday afternoon in Moscow, two of the best fighters in the world, WBC and WBO world cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk and WBA and IBF champion Murat Gassiev will meet in the eagerly awaited finale of the ‘World Boxing Super Series’ tournament. Ukraine native Usyk (14-0, 11 KO’s) and Russian Gassiev (26-0, 19 KO’s) each entered the single-elimination competition in the fall of 2017, so they earned their place in this final.

Why is this relevant? A knockout (no pun implied) style of contest, where a loss means “adios” puts the pressure on each man to succeed and maybe there’s not as much reliance on the ringside judges for an escape route. Here’s how each fighter got to the ultimate showdown in Moscow.

Oleksandr Usyk knocked out Marco Huck last September in Berlin, Germany in the tenth round and in doing do, he made the third successful defense of his WBO world cruiserweight title. He then moved on to defeat Mairis Briedis this past January in Latvia by way of majority decision and picked up the WBC belt for his trouble. This moved him into the final of the ‘Super Series’ and put him in to contention for the ‘Ali Trophy’.

Murat Gassiev began last October in New Jersey with a third round knockout of Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. He held on to the IBF world cruiserweight strap he lifted from fellow Russian Denis Lebedev ten months earlier. This past February, he scored a fabulous stoppage victory with less than ten seconds to spare in the twelfth and final round over Yunier Doritos in Adler, Russia. The win earned him the WBA title and the co-headlining spot in Saturday’s ultimate showdown. How much better can it get than this?

We have two unbeaten champions who’ve combined for thirty total knockouts in forty total fights. We have all the sanctioned ‘alphabet’ belts at stake. We have Ukraine against Russia, which easily carries more weight than any of the aforementioned facts. Sounds good, does it not? So, what time will the bout be on HBO? Not on HBO, you say? Then, perhaps Showtime, ESPN or Fox Sports? No, no and no. Instead, the highly anticipated matchup is being televised on a little known streaming platform known as KlowdTV.

If you get the chance, then check out the website (KlowdTV.com) and see what it has to offer. They know exactly why you’ve visited their domain. The bout is advertised as its headline and requires at least a month long subscription to the service. The price is listed as $9.99, which isn’t bad at all, but this isn’t the point. KlowdTV’s site may look a bit shady and a lot less user friendly than the major cable companies, but should we even be having this conversation?

We’ll never know or see the proverbial writing on the wall when and if the usual carriers of championship fights all get their respective minds together. This is a great fight, hopefully not just on paper, and most of us won’t get to see it. KlowdTV could make a small killing this weekend and of course, there’s nothing wrong with capitalism. Still, even the smallest of bones tossed at the other talents in the sport would be nice. This isn’t anything new.

Six years ago, Carl “The Cobra” Froch handed IBF middleweight champion Lucian Bute the first loss of his professional career. He handed his ass to him as well. Froch beat down Bute as if he’d stolen something out of his garage with a fifth round knockout victory. Lucian had plenty of detractors for various reasons, among them being seemingly unable to fight outside of his adopted homeland of Quebec, Canada. The crowd in Nottingham Arena on May 26, 2012 was deafening.

Froch destroyed Bute and basically no one outside of those who had the obscure television network of EPIX (or an illegal Sky Sports stream) at their disposal saw it. No HBO, Showtime or any other of the boxing world’s ‘big dogs’ of programming. It was a real drag. And it’s happening again.

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