Yuniel Dorticos: I’ll Travel to Heavyweight for Usyk!
What a difference that two years can make! On Saturday March 21, the hard-hitting Cuban Yuniel Dorticos (24-1, 22 KO’s) will return to action in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) cruiserweight tournament against Mairis Briedis (26-1, 19 KO’s). The fight will stand as the first defense of his IBF world cruiserweight title.
Dorticos initially won the then-vacant title by way of tenth round knockout over the highly touted Andrew “The Beast” Tabiti (17-1, 13 KO’s) on June 15, 2019 in the semi-finals of the WBSS. However, back on October 20, 2018 it was Dorticos himself who suffered his lone professional loss, by knockout, to Murat “Iron” Gassiev (26-1, 19 KO’s).
ROCKY ROAD BACK TO THE TOP
In the world of sports and athletics, for most athletes, taking a loss is as inevitable as coal miners getting dirty. At some point in their careers, it’s just something that is going to happen. Yet, as it is with most things in life, some folks take the loss better than others. In his case, Dorticos initially took his stoppage defeat to Gassiev rather hard before using it as fuel for his comeback.
As he explained, speaking through a translator, in an exclusive interview with Behind the Gloves, the Cuban knockout artist reveals just how mentally detrimental, then motivating the loss was.
“You learn from that experience, I was sad, I near went into a depression. I learned from that experience. In other words, it was more motivating to get back, show who I am. Bounce back in the second season, beat Masternak, knocked out Tabiti, knockout the year 2019.”
ON THE HUNT FOR MAJOR SCALPS
First and foremost however, Dorticos wants to first take care of what’s in front of him first, Briedis, then avenge his only loss. Granted that he is successful in those endeavors, Dorticos would like to topple former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.
However, one large potential roadblock for that prizefight is the fact that Usyk has already left cruiserweight and matriculated into the heavyweight division. Let the stone-knuckled Cuban tell it, this will not be an issue!
“Here I am in the finals and once I get that trophy and I have it home, then I can think about I want to get my rematch with Gassiev to clean my record from that loss and then Usyk and anybody else that wants to get I am here for!
[on Usyk moving to heavyweight] I’ll go to heavyweight. You know, like I said, I fight Gasseiev, I fight Usyk, I’ll fight Usyk, I’ll fight Wilder, anybody! Anybody who wants to fight I am not scared, that’s what I do. And we’re all punchers so that’s what the people want to see.”
Clearly, Dorticos has his mind in a positive and ambitious head-space, as these are certainly some lofty ambitions! But first, let’s see how his prizefight with Briedis plays out on March 21.
By: Bakari Simpson