Former unified Cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev set to make Heavyweight debut February 29 on DAZN as part of Garcia vs Vargas
Rising undefeated Junior Middleweight Israil Madrimov added to stacked card, in a WBA eliminator bout
Murat Gassiev announced his move to Heavyweight last April after signing a joint promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing USA, Ural Boxing and Warriors Boxing. That development added the former Cruiserweight champion to DAZN’s roster of fighters. Gassiev’s highly-anticipated Heavyweight debut is slated for Saturday, February 29 against Jerry Forrest at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
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. – Murat Gassiev
In addition to his new home, DAZN, in the UK Sky Sports will handle the broadcast, which also includes rising Junior Middleweight Israil Madrimov in a world title eliminator. Four-division champion Mikey Garcia faces Jessie Vargas in the main event.
Gassiev (26-1 19 KOs) last fought on DAZN in July 2018 in the conclusion of the World Boxing Super Series’ Cruiserweight tournament against Oleksandr Usyk. With that win Usyk ascended to undisputed champion.
The 26-year old Russian slugger sustained a shoulder injury that forced him out of his planned July debut against Joey Dawejko in Arlington, Texas.
For his first fight in one of boxing’s hottest divisions, the state doesn’t change, but he’ll face a veteran in Louisiana’s 31-year old Forrest (26-3, 20 KOs). For has five wins over the past 12 months, and his six fights in that span should allow him to thoroughly test Gassiev. Forrest draws the assignment with the expectation the bout’s outcome sheds light on the former champion’s level of threat to the division’s growing list of contenders.
“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 WBA’s No. 2 position against Venezuelan Charlie Navarro (29-9, 22 KOs). Madrimov won the title in stunning fashion, knocking out Frank Rojas in the second round of their fight held in Verona, NY in March. The stoppage maintained his 100 percent KO ratio as a pro with sixth and fifth round wins at Madison Square Garden logged in June and October.
A victory over the experienced former title challenger moves the 24 year old Uzbekistani talent closer to a World title shot in 2020. His stablemate, “MJ” Murojdon Akhmadaliev recently became Uzbekistan’s first-ever unified champion.
“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.”
The event represents a huge weekend for headline star Garcia, who faces Jessie Vargas in a tremendous Welterweight showdown in the main event. Joining him on the card, and representing the Garcia Promotions roster, will be unbeaten 20-year old Texan Flyweight Jesse Rodriguez (10-0, 6 KOs) and Mexican Middleweight Leo Ruiz Acevedo (6-0, 4 KOs).
Rodriguez, 20, clashes with Marco Sustaita (12-2-1, 10 KOs) in a 10-rounder, Acevedo takes on Dennis Knifechief (12-11, 7 KOs) in a bout scheduled for 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 Britain’s longest reigning champion Kal Yafai (26-015 KOs) putting his WBA Super Flyweight title on the line against the former pound-for-pound king Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (48-2 40 KOs) – a former four-division ruler.
In the card’s second world title fight, rising Mexican sensation Julio Cesar Martinez (15-1 12 KOs) makes the first defense of his WBC Flyweight title against unbeaten European champion Jay Harris (17-0 9 KOs). Matchroom Boxing USA talent Diego Pacheco (8-0 7 KOs) kicks off his 2020 campaign, and Middleweight Alexis Espino (5-0 4 KOs) is scheduled for a quick turnaround following his second round TKO in Miami over Vicent Baccus on January 30.