By Luke Furman
WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev is fully backing his countryman, IBF world cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev (25-0, 18 KOs), to win in spectacular fashion when he faces WBA champion Yunier Dorticos (22-0, 21 KOs).
Gassiev vs. Dorticos is a semi-final bout in the cruiserweight edition of the World Boxing Super Series.
Gassiev has the home field advantage, as the contest is scheduled to take place at the Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi, Russia on February 3, 2018.
Gassiev, listed as the tournament's second seed, comes with a big win over former world champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in New Jersey in October. The Russian boxer laded a crushing body shot to produce a third round knockout - making it the first time that the Polish veteran was ever stopped.
Dorticos aka ‘The KO Doctor’, is the tournament’s fourth seed, and he already knocked out one Russian boxer in the WBSS.
He impressed in his quarter-final bout with a devastating knockout victory in the third round over Gassiev's countryman, Dmitri Kudryashov, in San Antonio in September.
Kovalev believes Dorticos is a nervous wreck and doing a lot of talking to calm himself down.
He expects Gassiev to close the show by knockout and then go straight ahead to the final bout of the WBSS - which Kovalev believes will come against WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine.
"The way I see it, Gassiev will get past the Cuban without any problems. Dorticos is visibly nervous, expressing himself with all sorts of sharp statements, which indicates his uncertainty about the outcome of the upcoming fight," Kovalev said.
"On the other hand, Gassiev is a bundle of health, power and motivation, as two titles are at stake. I think that Gassiev will win ahead of schedule - approximately somewhere in the realm of the fourth to the eighth round. I see Murat going to the World Boxing Super Series final with Oleksandr Usyk."
Luke Furman covers boxing for bokser.org.