Murat Georgievich Gassiev, a Russian-Armenian professional boxer, is a former unified cruiserweight world champion, holding the IBF title from 2016 to 2018 and the WBA (Unified) title in 2018. As of October 2021, he was ranked as the world’s ninth-best active heavyweight by BoxRec.
Background: Gassiev hails from Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia-Alania, and is of Ossetian Iron descent. His amateur career was relatively short, consisting of just 25 fights.
Professional career – Early years: Gassiev began his professional boxing journey at the age of 17 on September 21, 2011, at the Manezh in Vladikavkaz, Russia. He defeated 22-year-old Roman Mirzoev in a four-round fight that went the distance, earning a unanimous decision victory. Gassiev’s second fight took place in November at the Traktor Sport Palace in Chelyabinsk, Russia, where he knocked out Vladimir Chuklin in the fourth round. Over the next 18 months, Gassiev remained unbeaten, accumulating 11 wins, with 7 of them coming by knockout, all at the tender age of 19.
In June 2013, Gassiev won the vacant WBC Youth world cruiserweight title by defeating Levan Jomardashvili, dropping him twice in round 1 and stopping the fight in round 2. He successfully defended the title in December against Ivica Bacurin, winning via unanimous decision after a 10-round bout. Gassiev also won the vacant IBF East/West Europe cruiserweight title on February 1, 2014, by defeating Belgian boxer Ismail Abdoul in his first 12-round fight, which went the distance.
Rise up the ranks: In 2015, Gassiev had a busy year, fighting four times and making his debut in the United States. He successfully defended his IBF Inter-Continental title against former champion Felix Cora Jr. by stopping him in round 9. Gassiev continued his winning streak with a knockout victory over Rodney Moore in two rounds.
In December 2015, he faced undefeated Isiah Thomas in an IBF eliminator, but the fight ended in a no contest after Thomas was accidentally hit after the bell and could not continue following the ringside doctor’s orders. Gassiev’s journey to the top continued, and he defeated Jordan Shimmell in a 1st-round knockout in an eliminator, making him the IBF mandatory challenger to unified WBA and IBF cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev. This win set the stage for a significant title bout in the cruiserweight division.