|Former Cruiserweight king makes Heavyweight bow as Madrimov closes on 154lb World title shot
|Murat Gassiev will make his long-awaited Heavyweight debut against Jerry Forrest at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas on Saturday February 29, live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK – with rising Junior-Middleweight star Israil Madrimov in a World title eliminator and headline star Mikey Garcia showcasing two of his Garcia Promotions talents.
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Gassiev (26-1 19 KOs) announced his move to Heavyweight in April after signing a promotional deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA, Ural Boxing and Warriors Boxing to fight on DAZN, following hot on the heels of his old Cruiserweight foe Oleksandr Usyk, the last man he faced in an undisputed World title clash and the final of the World Boxing Super Series in July 2018.
The Russian banger was set to make his bow in July at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas against Joey Dawejko but a shoulder injury in the build-up forced the 26 year old to delay his entrance into a red-hot division.
Now a fully fit Gassiev does get the chance to debut in the Lone Star state, this time against seasoned Louisianan Forrest (26-3 20 KOs), the active 31 year old who has five wins from six fights in the last 12 months, and ‘The Iron’ is looking to sharpen his tools for an assault on the Heavyweights.
“I’m so happy to finally be able to make my debut at Heavyweight,” said Gassiev. “It has been frustrating not being able to fight but I am ready to go now, and I want to make up for lost time.
“When I box in Frisco it will have been nearly 600 days since I’ve fought and a lot has happened in the Heavyweight division over that time – I know that I can be a World champion at Heavyweight but I need to show to the rest of the division that I am a serious threat, and that starts on February 29.”
Madrimov (4-0 4 KOs) defends his WBA Inter-Continental Junior-Middleweight title in an official eliminator for the #2 position in the WBA against Venezuelan Charlie Navarro (29-9 22 KOs). Madrimov landed the title with a stunning second round KO of Frank Rojas in Verona, NY in March and maintained his 100 per cent KO ratio as a pro with sixth and fifth round wins at Madison Square Garden in the Big Apple in June and October.
The 24 year old Uzbekistani talent will be buoyed by his fellow countryman and stablemate ‘MJ’ Murodjon Akhmadaliev becoming Uzbekistan’s first ever unified champion, and victory over the experienced former World title challenger will edge Madrimov closer to a World title shot in 2020.
“I am so excited to be getting my first fight of 2020 on such a big card in Frisco,” said Madrimov. “I was so happy to watch MJ beat Daniel Roman in Miami last weekend, and that win has spurred me on to join him as a World champion this year.
“Navarro is a proud and experienced fighter and I know he will be a great test for me, but this is a great night for me to showcase my talents and show the rest of the division that I am ready to win World titles.”
It’s a huge weekend for headline star Garcia, who faces Jessie Vargas in a blockbuster Welterweight showdown in the main event. Garcia, who promotes a fight card on Friday night in Irving, Texas, will showcase two of his Garcia Promotions charges on his undercard with 20 year old unbeaten Texan Flyweight Jesse Rodriguez (10-0 6 KOs) clashing with Marco Sustaita (12-2-1 10 KOs) over ten rounds and unbeaten Mexican Middleweight Leo Ruiz Acevedo (6-0 4 KOs) taking on Dennis Knifechief (12-11 7 KOs) over six rounds.
“It’s great to have Jesse and Leo on the Frisco card that I am headlining against Jessie Vargas,” said Mikey Garcia. “Jesse’s fight with Marco is a really tough fight for both guys and it’s a real step up for Jesse, while Leo is on a great KO run and will be a threat in the Middleweight division in 2020 – February 29 is going to be a huge night of boxing and we’re looking to get three big wins.”
Gassiev, Madrimov, Rodriguez and Acevedo complete a stacked bill in Frisco, Texas, topped by Garcia vs. Vargas, with the longest reigning British World champion Kal Yafai(26-015 KOs) puts his WBA World Super-Flyweight title on the line against the former pound-for-pound king and four weight World ruler Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (48-2 40 KOs) and rising Mexican sensation Julio Cesar Martinez (15-1 12 KOs) makes the first defense of his WBC World Flyweight title against unbeaten European champion Jay Harris (17-0 9 KOs) – with Matchroom Boxing USA talents Diego Pacheco (8-0 7 KOs) and Alexis Espino (5-0 4 KOs) getting their first taste of action in 2020.