The first Muhammad Ali trophy given to the champion of the World Boxing Super Series competition will be delivered to the winner of the Oleksandr Usyk-Murat Gassivev cruiserweight title bout July 21 at Moscow’s Olympic Stadium.
Russia’s Big Bear-trained Gassiev (26-0, 19 knockouts) will have his World Boxing Assn. and International Boxing Federation belts on the line against Ukraine’s Usyk (14-0, 11 KOs).
Usyk wears the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization belts, which will make the winner boxing’s first unified champion since Terence Crawford accomplished the feat in the 140-pound division last year.
Usyk, after a technical knockout of Marco Huck and a narrow January decision over Mairis Briedis in his first WBSS bouts, suffered an elbow injury while training for a planned May bout with Gasiev, delaying the date and moving it from a venue in Saudi Arabia.
Women’s unified welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus (33-0, nine KOs) will fight in the co-main event, defending her belts against Inna Sagaydakovskya (7-0, three KOs).
Braekhus suffered her first career knockdown May 5 at StubHub Center, rallying to defeat Kali Reis by unanimous decision in what stood as HBO’s first televised women’s fight.
The intrigue now is which American broadcast platform will air this card in the U.S. HBO has previously televised Usyk at the Forum, but officials connected to the bout do not expect the premium cable network to show what stands to be a gripping battle.
While Usyk has years of amateur experience to fall back upon, Gassiev has shown significant strides in literally every pro fight while training under Abel Sanchez alongside unbeaten, two-belt middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.
The Perform Group’s new DAZN streaming service will air the organization’’s coming 140-pound and bantamweight tournaments, but isn’t prepared to do Usyk-Gassiev in July. ESPN-Plus is one possibility.
The World Boxing Super Series is awaiting George Groves to recover from a shoulder injury for his participation in the super-middleweight final in September against finalist Callum Smith.