Brains as important as brawn for Gassiev, Shimmell in 200-pound title eliminator

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Murat Gassiev and Jordan Shimmell have combined to stop 32 of their 44 opponents, but don’t expect their 200-pound title elimination bout Tuesday to turn into an all-out slugfest.

Murat Gassiev and Jordan Shimmell

The winner of Tuesday's bout between Murat Gassiev, left, and Jordan Shimmell will earn a shot at a 200-pound world title. (Andy Samuelson/Premier Boxing Champions)

Despite both boxers possessing plenty of knockout power, the Gassiev-Shimmell bout, which headlines a Toe-to-Toe Tuesdays card from Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton, Minnesota (Fox Sports 1, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), could hinge on which man shows the most smarts in the ring.

“I’m not sure that Jordan has to stand toe-to-toe [to beat Gassiev]. Will there be times that he might do it? Yeah,” said Dennis Shimmell, Jordan’s father and trainer. “Jordan does hit hard and he can surprise Gassiev when he lands some big punches, but Jordan’s a good boxer with good speed.

“We’ve got to box Gassiev and stay off the ropes, because he’s pretty strong and he hits hard and can be vicious when he gets you on the ropes. I don’t think trading with this guy is the smartest move on anyone’s part.”

The Gassiev-Shimmell winner will become the mandatory challenger to fight the winner of Saturday’s title unification bout in Moscow between 200-pound champions Denis Lebedev and Victor Emilio Ramirez.

With so much at stake Tuesday night, Jordan Shimmell (20-1, 16 KOs) knows he must fight intelligently to defeat Murat Gassiev (22-0, 16 KOs), a 22-year-old Russian who hasn’t gone the distance since earning a 12-round unanimous decision over Ismail Abdoul in February 2014.

“I would say that Murat is the most dangerous fighter that I will have faced to date. Obviously he has power, so I’m not going to sit there and try to trade with him,” said Shimmell, who weighed in for the fight Monday at 196 pounds, while Gassiev came in at 199.2.

“Although I’ve been hit with some shots and I know I can take it, the name of the game is to hit and try not to get hit. I’m looking forward to making this just another day at the office. I’m looking forward to this being my redemption.”

I would say that Murat is the most dangerous fighter that I will have faced to date. Obviously he has power, so I’m not going to sit there and try to trade with him. 200-pound title contender Jordan Shimmell

Shimmell, 27, was outboxed in his lone loss in July, when he dropped a 10-round unanimous decision to southpaw Isiah Thomas despite being the aggressor for most of the fight.

Thomas then fought Gassiev in December, with the bout ending in a no contest when Thomas was unable to continue after Gassiev punched him after the bell ended the third round.

“I thought Thomas was boxing [Gassiev] and fighting smart, landing the cleaner shots," Shimmell said. "I thought he was ahead in the fight. Gassiev hit him after the bell, and for some reason they called it a no contest rather than disqualified him.

“I’m not going to rush in or get wild, but if there’s an opening, I’ll take it. I have to go out there and fight a smart fight to create those openings. This is a great opportunity to propel myself forward and get bigger fights in the future, so I’m planning to capitalize on it.”

Trained by Abel Sanchez, cornerman for undefeated 160-pound champion Gennady Golovkin, Gassiev had stopped his previous seven opponents before fighting Thomas, including four KOs inside of two rounds.

As part of his preparations for Shimmell, Gassiev sparred earlier this month with undefeated heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, whose upcoming title defense against Alexander Povetkin was called off Sunday.

“Shimmell is not a bad fighter, but I think that you will see a different Murat for this fight,” Sanchez said. “I think that he is one of the top three cruiserweights in the world. Being with Wilder was a great experience for him. We want Murat to do the same things he did with Deontay, and if he does that, then Shimmell won’t be around too long.”

Count Wilder among the believers that Gassiev is headed for big things.

“Murat has got nice skills,” Wilder said. “I can definitely see him becoming a champion one of these days within the cruiserweight division.”

For a complete overview of Gassiev vs Shimmell, visit our fight page.

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