Cruiserweight world titleholder Murat Gassiev’s defense against mandatory challenger Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, a former titleholder, will take place Oct. 21 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, Ringstar Sports promoter Richard Schaefer announced Friday.
The fight is one of the four quarterfinal bouts in the World Boxing Super Series. It was the only quarterfinal that did not yet have an official date and site.
“It’s a great pleasure to promote this exciting World Boxing Super Series matchup,” Schaefer said. “Murat Gassiev is clearly one of the top cruiserweights in the world, but he will have a great obstacle against the battle-tested former champion, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, who will have a big boost from the raucous Polish fans in New Jersey. Prudential Center is the perfect venue for this event, and I know that the fans will enjoy this matchup as both men vie for the Muhammad Ali Trophy.”
No. 2-seeded Gassiev (24-0, 17 KOs), of Russia, will be making his first title defense since outpointing countryman Denis Lebedev in December in Moscow.
“I promise that I’m going to come to the ring to win and do everything possible to get this victory,” said Gassiev, 23, who shares trainer Abel Sanchez with unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin. “I want to take advantage of this opportunity to fight the best boxers in my weight class. I have a very serious opponent in Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, who is a two-time world champion, and his resume speaks for itself. He has fought the best and I’m looking forward to a very hard fight.”
The unseeded Wlodarczyk (53-3-1, 37 KOs), of Poland, has won four fights in a row since losing his belt to Grigory Drozd by wide unanimous decision in September 2014.
“It is a great honor for me to fight in the World Boxing Super Series for the Muhammad Ali Trophy,” said Wlodarczyk, 35. “I trained for two weeks in the Polish mountains and now I am back in Warsaw putting in the work for Oct. 21.
“I am very happy to have the opportunity to fight a champion like Murat Gassiev. He is a young, strong champion like I was a few years ago, but I am ready to show that I am still the best in the division.”
The eight-man single-elimination cruiserweight tournament kicks off on Saturday at the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin, Germany, where No. 1 seed Oleksandr Usyk (12-0, 10 KOs), of Ukraine, defends his version of the title against former titleholder Marco Huck (40-4-1, 27 KOs), of Germany.
In other quarterfinal action, No. 4 seed Yunier Dorticos (21-0, 20 KOs), a Miami-based Cuban defector, defends his belt against “The Russian Hammer” Dmitry Kudryashov (21-1, 21 KOs) on Sept. 23 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Meanwhile, No. 3 seed Mairis Briedis (22-0, 18 KOs), of Latvia, defends his belt against Ireland-based Cuban defector Mike Perez (22-2-1, 14 KOs) on Sept. 30 at Riga Arena in Riga, Latvia.
The Usyk-Huck winner will meet the Briedis-Perez winner in one semifinal, and the Gassiev-Wlodarczyk winner will face the Dorticos- Kudryashov victor in the other semifinal. The semifinals are slated to take place in early 2018, with the finals penciled in for May.