By Keith Idec
HOBOKEN, N.J. – Krzysztof Wlodarczyk wasn’t in the mood Wednesday to discuss his perceived position as an underdog three days before his fight against Murat Gassiev.
“I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” Wlodarczyk said through a translator during an open workout at the Everlast Boxing Lab. “I don’t read this stuff and I don’t any attention whatsoever to what people think about who’s going to win or lose.”
The hard-hitting Gassiev is favored to win their quarterfinal Saturday night in World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament. The winner of their scheduled 12-round main event at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, will advance to a semifinal meeting with Yunier Dorticos (22-0, 21 KOs).
Gassiev (24-0, 17 KOs, 1 NC) won the IBF cruiserweight title in his last fight – a 12-round, split-decision victory over fellow Russian Denis Lebedev (30-2, 22 KOs) on December 3 in Moscow. The 24-year-old Gassiev’s performance against the veteran southpaw didn’t particularly impress Wlodarczyk (53-3-1, 37 KOs).
The former IBF and WBC cruiserweight champion believes his experience and intelligence can help him beat Gassiev, who’s trained by Abel Sanchez.
“I’m not sold on Gassiev,” said Wlodarczyk, who has never been knocked out. “Even in his last fight, his biggest win against Lebedev, it was a close call. The decision was really close. Lebedev started slow. We don’t know who Gassiev is. We know he’s strong, we know he’s young, but it’s much too early to give him the crown as one of the best. It’s really too early because the fight with Lebedev could’ve gone either way. So he would not be here [in this fight] if he lost that fight.”
Gassiev beat Lebedev on the scorecards of judges Alexander Kalinkin (116-112) and Joe Pasquale (116-111). Judge Pawel Kardyni scored their 12-round fight 114-113 for Lebedev, then 37.
Wlodarczyk, 36, has a much higher opinion of Dorticos than Gassiev. The heavy-handed Cuban made everyone take notice when he scored a spectacular second-round technical knockout win against Russia’s Dmitry Kudryashov (21-2, 21 KOs) in their quarterfinal fight September 23 in San Antonio.
“The last Dorticos fight showed who the favorite is,” Wlodarczyk said. “Dorticos is the favorite in this tournament, not Gassiev.”
The Gassiev-Wlodarczyk fight will air on the AUDIENCE Network (DirecTV, AT&T U-verse) as part of a two-fight telecast set to start at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.