By Steve Kim
The semi-finals of the cruiserweight tournament in the World Boxing Super Series concludes this Saturday in Russia when IBF titlist Murat Gassiev (25-0, 18 KO's) and WBA belt-holder Yunier Dorticos (22-0, 21 KO's) meet in a head-on collision of two heavy-handed punchers.
Gassiev advanced by halting Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in three rounds, while Dorticos knocked out Dmitry Kudryashov in two rounds in the quarter finals.
When asked to size up Dorticos, Gassiev's trainer, Abel Sanchez, told BoxingScene.com - "What I saw in the Kudryashov fight was a guy that was very lethargic, very slow. But he also has that Cuban background, a hell of a lot of fights. He's a big puncher, so is Murat.
"I think my guy has a little better technique, my guy is a little tighter on his defense. But both guys can crack and the guy that lands the first significant punch, is he good enough to put the other guy away?"
During the month of December, Sanchez drove down from the mountains of Big Bear, California to get sparring at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.
One of the big questions in this match-up is just how well each man takes the other's punch. When asked about his man's punch resistance, Sanchez stated - "We're going to find out. I think they're both good punchers, whoever lands the first shot and whoever can take it, then we've got a fight on our hands. But I saw Dorticos fight (Youri) Kalenga and he hit him with everything and Kalenga when he was in my gym refused to spar Murat.
"So I think it's getting respect in there and landing the first shot and making it a 12-round fight. I think we're going to find out that these are two exceptional athletes and they're both going to be stars."
The winner of this bout moves onto the finals where WBC/WBO champion, Oleksandr Usyk - who defeated Mairis Breidis this past weekend in Latvia - awaits them.
Steve Kim is the news editor for BoxingScene.com.