Murat Gassiev 26-1 (19) wants revenge on Oleksandr Usyk 17-0 (13) at heavyweight, according to his trainer Abel Sanchez.
The 26-year-old Russian hasn’t fought since dropping a points decision to Usyk in a four-belt unification bout in the final of the inaugural World Boxing Super Series tournament in July 2018.
Ukrainian southpaw Usyk, 33, made his heavyweight debut last October with a seventh-round stoppage of late-replacement Chazz Witherspoon.
Sanchez says Gassiev is better suited to the open division and rates him “as big a puncher as the best heavyweights”.
“Absolutely. He was killing himself to make weight for cruiserweight. That’s not an excuse – Usyk was the better man on the night,” Sanchez told Sky Sports.
“We look forward to meeting Usyk at heavyweight.”
Sanchez says he always saw Gassiev moving up to the heavyweight division.
“I first started working with him when he was nearly 20 years old,” he continued. “He was 192-pounds back then.
“I saw his frame and his hands – he has tremendously big hands. I said: ‘This young man will dominate the cruiserweight ranks then become a very good heavyweight’.
“It took a little longer to get to the heavyweights, but he will be good. I anticipated this when I first started working with him. His hands told me everything.
“He is as big a puncher as the best heavyweights.
“Like Evander Holyfield, he has the speed of a cruiserweight. His speed and quickness will be the difference against heavyweights, the same as Oleksandr Usyk.
“But will Usyk have the strength to handle heavyweights? He doesn’t have a big punch. In the heavyweight division you need to have something that keeps people back.”
Sanchez wants Gassiev to fight a top 10 contender after a tune-up to shake off the rust.
“I would like to fight Adam Kownacki, Robert Helenius or Andy Ruiz Jr,” he said. “But he hasn’t fought in two years so I would like a tune-up fight first.”
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