World Boxing Super Series should be on TV in the U.S.

DORTICOS GASSIEVMurat Gassiev (R) battles Yunier Dorticos Saturday at the Bolshoy Ice Dome in Soshi, Russia during the World Boxing Super Series semifinals. (Photo courtesy World Boxing Super Series)


Two weeks ago, HBO opened its 2018 boxing campaign with a tepid doubleheader that featured victories by Jorge Linares and Lucas Matthysse. On Saturday, ESPN showed a doubleheader from Texas and both bouts were gross mismatches.

Yet, there was a fight that fans would have loved to have watched which featured compelling action and carried significant meaning. Murat Gassiev stopped Yunier Dorticos in the 12th round of a fight for the WBA and IBF cruiserweight titles in the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series in Soshi, Russia.

The bout was outstanding, as the men traded big blows throughout the fight. Dorticos took numerous huge shots but hung in there until the latter stages of the match.

This bout was far, far better than anything that has been on television in the U.S. this year. But if you are in the U.S., the only way you could see it was by watching it on a live stream.

HBO, in particular, is in need of quality boxing programming and it seemed a given to take this show. It did not and it passed on a compelling, competitive match.

Gassiev showed he’s going to be a force, not only at cruiserweight, where he’ll fight Aleksandr Usyk in the finals in May in Saudi Arabia, but also in the future at heavyweight. But after this win, the Abel Sanchez-trained fighter heaped praise upon his opponent.

“He did a great job,” Gassiev said. “He’s a great champion. He’s really a very hard hitter. I respect him a lot. There was big pressure on me in the fight. He has 21 knockouts. He has heart, and he is a warrior. He never gave up. He takes punches but continues fighting.”

There are many things other than just making the best matches that have to occur in order for boxing to succeed regularly in the U.S. But getting fights like Gassiev-Dorticos on television is chief among them.

The World Boxing Super Series continues on Feb. 17 with the first of its super middleweight semifinals. George Groves will fight Chris Eubank Jr. in Manchester, England. Then, on Feb. 24, Callum Smith will face Jurgen Braehmer in Nuremberg, Germany, in the other.

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