Murat Gassiev maintained his perfect start to life as a heavyweight by flattening the previously undefeated Mike Balogun inside two rounds.
Gassiev has been inactive since stepping up from cruiserweight but at just 29 still has time to craft an assault of the upper reaches of the division.
But far sterner tests will lie in wait for him than Maryland’s Balogun, who arrived in Armenia 20-0 with 16 KOs, who was put away with the only right hand that Gassiev landed.
The Russian appeared to gesture to his right, beckoning Balogun to move away from the corner he was close to, and as the 39-year-old moved around, Gassiev fired his rear hand around Balogun’s guard.
He dropped heavily and was still on his hands and knees as the referee administered his count and it was quite clear he had no hope of getting up in time to fight on.
This was only Gassiev’s fourth fight in nearly four years as a heavyweight and the fourth to have ended with an inside-distance win. At 238lb this was his career heaviest and almost exactly 40lbs heavier than he was when he dropped a decision to Oleksandr Usyk for all the belts at cruiserweight in what was his final appearance at the weight back in July 2018.
At 6ft 3 1/2in, it will be interesting to see how Gassiev handles one of the many taller heavyweights in the division but Balogun was not that. The first round passed with little to report, although the southpaw appeared to be moving quite well and looking to set up his attacks behind a stiff jab.
However after 1:41 of the second it all changed with one slash of Gassiev’s right hand. The 39-year-old did not want to know after that.
Given Gassiev’s lack of meaningful action at heavyweight he is still some way off the division’s top 10 so attention will now turn to quickly putting together a credible run of victories with the likes of Dereck Chisora said to be on his radar.
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