Gassiev beats Lebedev for IBF cruiserweight belt

ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 04, 2016 07:10 AM
Gassiev beats Lebedev for IBF cruiserweight belt
Russia's Murat Gassiev reacts after winning the IBF cruiserweight title bout against Russia's Denis Lebedev in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. Murat Gassiev dominated Denis Lebedev to win the IBF cruiserweight title on Saturday on a split decision. Lebedev remains the WBA champion at cruiserweight because the fight was only recognized as being for the IBF version of the title. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
MOSCOW (AP) — Murat Gassiev dominated Denis Lebedev to win the IBF cruiserweight title on Saturday on a split decision.

Gassiev knocked down Lebedev in the fifth round with a hook to the body but the defending champion came back strongly late on as the 23-year-old Gassiev tired.

Gassiev won 116-112 and 116-111 on two scorecards, while 37-year-old veteran Lebedev took the third 114-113. The announcement sharply divided the crowd in Moscow, packed with supporters of both Russian fighters.

"I prepared myself for a very tough fight. Denis is a champion and I knew what was waiting for me in the ring," Gassiev said. "Big respect to him. I'm very happy I won today."

Gassiev improves to 24-0 after by far the biggest fight of his five-year pro career. Lebedev, who drops to a 29-3 career record, remains the WBA champion at cruiserweight because the fight was only recognized as being for the IBF version of the title.

"I wouldn't say I lost that fight, but the referees have a better view and the stronger guy won," Lebedev said. "I think the Murat Gassiev era is starting."

Earlier, Namibia's Julius Indongo won the IBF light title by knocking out the reigning champion and heavy favorite, Eduard Troyanovsky. Indongo's fierce left hook 40 seconds into the fight sent the Russian flying backwards.

Troyanovsky, who was previously unbeaten and had won his last 14 fights by knockout or retirement, needed medical attention but appeared not to be seriously hurt.

Indongo, a former police officer, is 21-0 following his first career fight outside Namibia, while Troyanovsky is 25-1.

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