Usyk beats Gassiev to unify cruiserweight division
LOS ANGELES, July 22, (Agencies): Mexican WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision victory over England’s Liam Smith in a 12-round title fight on Saturday night.
The 21-year-old Munguia improved to 30-0 with 25 knockouts by becoming just the second boxer — along with Canelo Alvarez — to beat Smith.
While Munguia didn’t knock Smith out, he easily won the 154-pound fight by scores of 116-111, 119-110 and 119-108.
With about 40 seconds left in the sixth round, Munguia landed a left hook to the side of the head that knocked Smith down. He hurt him again three rounds later with a hook to the body. “I did very well, it was a tough fight,” said Munguia. “I was looking for the knockout. I went to get the knockout and I always put my heart into the fight like a true Mexican.”
Former world champion Smith dropped to 26-2-1 overall as the Liverpool native failed to recapture the title he lost to Alvarez in 2016.
Smith, who was making his Las Vegas debut, captured the crown in 2015 with a seventh-round stoppage of John Thompson.
While he was overmatched on Saturday he still fought to the end and even managed to land the final punch of the fight in front of a crowd of 2,400 at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas.
“He was a tough opponent,” Munguia said of Smith. “We went to the decision, no problem, it is a learning experience.”
On the undercard, junior lightweight world titlist Alberto Machado easily beat challenger Rafael Mensah, winning 120-107 on all three scorecards.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk unified the cruiserweight division by beating Russian Murat Gassiev by unanimous decision on Saturday.
Despite facing a hostile crowd in Moscow, Usyk controlled the fight with his jab to add Gassiev’s WBA and IBF titles to his own WBC and WBO belts.
Gassiev landed some heavy body shots when he got inside Usyk’s reach, but started to tire and the Ukrainian was utterly dominant in the later rounds as Gassiev swung wild haymakers.
Usyk, a former Olympic gold medalist, holds all four major titles after just 15 professional fights, all of which he won.
“Moscow, 2018. Bang! Daddy’s in the building,” Usyk said.
Usyk added he could move up to heavyweight to fight the experienced British fighter Tony Bellow. “If he doesn’t want to drop down (to cruiserweight), I’ll happily go up to meet him,” Usyk said. “I’ll just eat extra pasta.”
It was Usyk’s third fight in 10 months as part of the World Boxing Super Series, in which he also beat German Marco Huck and the then-WBC champion Mairis Briedis.
Gassiev’s record dropped to 26-1 with one no contest.
Usyk was born in Crimea and has said he was forced to leave the peninsula after Russia annexed it from Ukraine in 2014. Despite the tension between the two countries, Usyk and Gassiev embraced warmly after the fight with broad smiles.
On the undercard, Cecilia Braekhus remained the undisputed women’s welterweight champion after beating the relatively inexperienced Russian Inna Sagaydakovskaya by unanimous decision.
The Norwegian, who first won a world title in 2009, has a 34-0 record.