If styles truly do make fights, then an upcoming battle of unbeaten big boys Isiah Thomas and Murat Gassiev figures to be a doozy.
Thomas (15-0, 6 KOs) is a 6-foot-4 boxing technician who has won his last four fights by decision, including three unanimously. Gassiev (22-0, 16 KOs) is a 6-foot-4 heavy hitter who has stopped each of his last seven opponents, including four knockouts inside of two rounds.
Something will have to give when the two clash December 18 at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The scheduled 12-rounder replaces a previously scheduled contest between Beibut Shumenov and Krzyzstof Wlodarczyk, which was nixed after Shumenov was forced to withdraw because of an eye injury.
Thomas-Gassiev will now serve as the co-main event to the Rances Barthelemy-Denis Shafikov 135-pound title fight that headlines a Premier Boxing Champions card (Spike TV, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
A 26-year-old product of the famed Kronk Gym in his native Detroit, Isiah Thomas is coming off the most impressive victory of his career, handing fellow Michigan resident Jordan Shimmell his first pro defeat on July 25 in Las Vegas.
Not only did Shimmell enter the bout unbeaten, but he’d knocked out three consecutive opponents and six of the previous seven. However, Thomas used his boxing skills to stay out of harm’s way and scored an easy unanimous decision (97-93, 98-92 and 99-91).
Thomas had a decorated amateur career in which he went 100-4 and was a two-time Junior Olympic National Champion. One of the southpaw’s four amateur defeats came at the hands of current heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder at the 2007 National Golden Gloves.
A 22-year-old native of Vladikavkaz, Russia, Murat Gassiev will be fighting for the fourth time this year, all in the United States.
He began 2015 with a fourth-round TKO victory over Terrance Smith on January 23 in Montebello, California. That was followed by a ninth-round stoppage of Felix Cora Jr. on April 17 in Mashantucket, Connecticut, and a second-round knockout of Rodney Moore on June 13 in Los Angeles.
In the latter contest, Gassiev weighed a career-high 207 pounds, while his opponent checked in at 214½. Meanwhile, Thomas has fought at his highest weights in his last two outings, tipping the scales at 198¾ for his win over Brad Austin in February and 198½ when he took down Shimmell.
“My confidence is always high, and after my win over Jordan Shimmell, I am looking forward to showcasing my talent again,” says Thomas, who was once called “a special talent” by late trainer Emanuel Steward.
For complete coverage of Thomas vs Gassiev, visit our fight page.