Murat Gassiev will be a force to contend with at heavyweight level and already has the likes of Andy Ruiz Jr in his sights, his trainer Abel Sanchez has said.
The Russian fighter has previously excelled at cruiserweight but announced last year he intended to step up to heavyweight after joining forces with Sanchez.
Gassiev’s last bout came back in July 2018 when he suffered a unanimous points defeat to Oleksandr Usyk in the World Boxing Super Series final in Moscow, losing his WBA (Unified) and IBF cruiserweight titles in the process.
He’s since needed time to recover from a shoulder injury and is hoping to make an impact at heavyweight level, where he could eventually meet Usyk again – something his trainer says he “looks forward to” – with the Ukrainian also joining the top weight division.
Sanchez believes the 26-year-old will be ideally suited to the heavyweight class and he’s already looking at possible opponents, including Ruiz Jr – who memorably beat British star Anthony Joshua before going down in a rematch last year.
The trainer thinks Gassiev will need at least one fight before he can focus on taking on Ruiz Jr, or the likes of Adam Kownacki and Robert Helenius, but he is confident he has the potential to shine.
Sanchez told Sky Sports: “It took a little longer to get to the heavyweights, but he will be good. I anticipated this when I first started working with him. His hands told me everything. He is as big a puncher as the best heavyweights.
“I would like to fight Adam Kownacki, Robert Helenius or Andy Ruiz Jr. But he hasn’t fought in two years so I would like a tune-up fight first.”
Boxing has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic but it’s hoped it can resume later in the year with some big heavyweight bouts in the pipeline.
Joshua’s mandatory IBF challenger is Kubrat Pulev (Joshua 1/10, Pulev 6/1, draw 33/1 – bout winner) with the duo having been due to face off in June, while Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder have an agreement in place for a third fight (Fury 2/7, Wilder 5/2, draw 25/1 – bout winner). There is also the possibility of a huge all-British showdown between Fury and Joshua in the near future, should both men come through their next engagements.