by Cliff Rold
It started the way most assumed it would. The perceived favorite in the field and number one seed, WBO titlist Oleksandr Usyk, dominated and stopped Marco Huck on September 9. Now we get to what may be remembered as the highlight of the cruiserweight quarterfinals.
The combined record: 42-1, 41 KOs.
Is there a more appealing combination of any two fighters records in the sport right now? It is an old fashioned puncher’s duel.
As we steer steadily towards the possibility of an undisputed king at 200 lbs., this could also end up being remembered as the wild card round. Both men are dangerous to each other and the winner will be dangerous to the rest of the field through to the end.
The most likely scenario doesn’t always play out. If there is a dark horse in the field for the cruiserweight side of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS), he should emerge from whatever hell is endured on Saturday at the Alamodome.
Let’s go the report card.
Title: WBA cruiserweight (2016-Present, 1st Defense of the WBA’s sub-title)
Previous Titles: None
Weight: 199 lbs.
Hails from: Miami, Florida (Born in Cuba)
Record: 21-0, 20 KO
Record in Title Fights: 1-0, 1 KO including interim title fights
WBSS Seed: 4
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 0
Title/Previous Titles: None
Height: 6’2 ½
Weight: 200 lbs.
Hails from: Volgodonsk, Russia
Record: 21-1, 21 KO, 1 KOBY?
Record in Major Title Fights: 1st title opportunity
WBSS Seed: Unseeded
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Juan Carlos Gomez KO1
Pre-Fight: Speed – Dorticos B+; Kudryashov B
Pre-Fight: Power – Dorticos A; Kudryashov A+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Dorticos B; Kudryashov C+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Dorticos A; Kudryashov B+
For those unfamiliar with the structure of the WBSS, only the top four fighters were seeded. The four seeded fighters, in order, are Usyk, IBF titlist Murat Gassiev (24-0, 17 KO), WBC titlist Mairis Briedis (22-0, 18 KO), and Dorticos (21-0, 20 KO). Seeded fighters were allowed to select their opponent from the unseeded pool, with the exception of Gassiev who will fulfill a mandatory against unseeded former titlist Krzyzstof Wlodarczyk (53-3-1, 37 KO), and the fourth seeds got what was left.
Next in the Bracket
The winner of the headline battle might immediately be in another puncher’s duel in the next round. The Dorticos-Kudrayashov winner will face the winner of Gassiev-Wlodarczyk. For single shot power, Gassiev may be the biggest puncher in the field even if his knockout percentage is a hair lower than some others. It’s fun to think about. We have to see how things shake out first.
Dorticos was in an absolute war his last time in the ring, a May 2016 war with Youri Kalenga that built a sort of viral buzz online as it progressed. Dorticos has been on the shelf since and rust can be a powerful enemy against a powerful foe. Dorticos is hittable, as is Kudrayashov, but he’s quicker, has a nice schooled jab, and throws fluid combinations. Watch for Dorticos’ sneaky left to the body as it sneaks back upstairs.
Kudryashov showed something extra in avenging his lone career loss. Olanrewaju Durodola caught him and stopped him in November 2015; Kudryashov returned the favor in his last fight before the WBSS. He’s got heavy hands and Dorticos has to be careful with him as long as he’s standing.
Kudryashov is live but he’s slower and easier to hit. If he catches Dorticos, or anyone else, they can go. However, Dorticos has a significant edge in reach and, while typically a willing warrior, Dorticos can be smarter about it behind the jab. Both men may see the floor here but the slightly better rounded Dorticos is the pick in a fight where everyone watching wins.
Fans who want to tune in online can do so at approximately 10:30 PM EDT at: https://worldboxingsuperseries.com/schedule/dorticos-vs-kudryashov/
Report Card and Staff Picks 2017: 35-14
This fight is not the only event on tap tomorrow…On pay-per view (3 PM EDT/12 PM PDT), Joseph Parker (23-0, 18 KO) is on the road and matched with a potentially tricky Hughie Fury (20-0, 10 KO) for the WBO heavyweight belt. The pick is Parker but he’ll have to be better than he’s been in his first two title fights to pull this off. His superior speed and better pop should be enough to keep the judges fair…On HBO (10 PM EDT), Jorge Linares (42-3, 27 KO) defends the WBA lightweight belt for the second time and looks to extend a five-year winning streak. Gold medalist Luke Campbell (17-1, 14 KO) is taking a big step up against a very talented fighter who has looked better in recent vintage than ever before. Campbell has quick hands, legitimate power, and seems to have sharpened since a narrow early loss. Tapping the upset here for Campbell in a compelling affair.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]