By Jake Donovan
Much like his lone conqueror Oleksandr Usyk, the heavyweight debut of Murat Gassiev will have to wait a little longer.
The former cruiserweight titlist has been forced to withdraw from a planned July 27 showdown versus veteran trialhorse Joey Dawejko due to a shoulder injury.
News of the injury was first revealed by ESPN.com’s Steve Kim.
The bout was due to take place on the undercard of the 140-pound title unification clash between Jose Carlos Ramirez and Maurice Hooker in Arlington, Texas, an event that was to also mark Gassiev’s debut on DAZN. More importantly, it would have been his first fight back since suffering a 12-round loss to Usyk in their undisputed cruiserweight championship clash last July, which served as the World Boxing Super Series tournament finals.
Gassiev (26-1, 19KOs) has been out of the ring since then, with much of the inactive stretch due to recovering from surgery to repair his left shoulder. It remains unclear as this goes to publish if his current situation is the result of recurring pain or from unrelated efforts.
Plans for the 25-year old Russian’s heavyweight debut are eerily similar to that of Usyk, who was forced to withdraw from a scheduled DAZN headliner this past May. A torn biceps injury forced the former World cruiserweight champion out of a planned heavyweight clash with veteran contender Carlos Takam.
It has since been rumored that Usyk will return to the ring in September, possibly as part of a planned card in Las Vegas as promoter Eddie Hearn (who did not return a phone call to BoxingScene.com seeking comment on Gassiev’s injury) has revealed such plans to reporters in England.
Usyk signed a co-promotional pact with Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing outfit shortly after taking top honors in season one of the WBSS cruiserweight tournament. Gassiev followed suit, signing with the company earlier this year and eager to make his debut and ring return which was first planned for June before being pushed back to the July 27 show in Texas.
The show will go on but without Gassiev. Whether or not Dawejko (19-7-4, 11KOs) also remains unclear.
The 29-year old heavyweight from Philadelphia (Penn.) has never served as an A-side on the national stage but has carved out a reputation as a serviceable opponent. He enters this bout having lost his last three starts, although offering one of the better performances of his career in a hard-fought 10-round loss to unbeaten Russian prospect and former amateur standout Sergiy Kuzmin this past March, which streamed live on DAZN.
Far greater fanfare has come in recent months for his time spent in training camp with then-unbeaten and unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua, Dawejko was brought in as a sparring partner for the hulking Brit, his squat 5’10” frame bearing a fitting resemblance to late replacement Andy Ruiz, who stopped Joshua in seven rounds in one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight title fight history.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox