Russia’s Murat Gassiev dropped Yunier Dorticos three times in the 12th round and dramatically stopped the previously unbeaten Cuban with just eight seconds remaining of a highly entertaining Ali Trophy semi-final at Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi, Russia.

The unbeaten champion retained his IBF cruiserweight title and won the WBA cruiserweight championship and proceeded to the final in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where he faces Ukraine’s Aleksandr Usyk in May.

“He did a great job,” said Gassiev said of Dorticos. “He’s a great champion. He’s really a very hard hitter. I respect him a lot.”

“There was big pressure on me in the fight. He has 21 knockouts. He has heart, and he is a warrior. He never gave up. He takes punches but continues fighting.”

Said Dorticos:

“I gave my best, but Murat is a strong fighter. I think we made history with a spectacular fight. It is tough right now, but I promise I will come back strong.”

Usyk was ringside and joined Gassiev in the ring for a face-off after the fight.

“I want to say congratulations on your last fight. Great job,” Gassiev told him. “I will do my best against you, and I hope we will make a good fight for all boxing fans.”

Usyk unified the WBO and WBC cruiserweight titles January 27 by beating Mairis Briedis on points in Latvia.

Usyk said: “I want to congratulate Murat on his victory, and I expect a spectacular and beautiful fight in Jeddah.”

Said Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer, Kalle Sauerland:

“I think we saw for a second week in a row the product you get when you put the best against the best. I think we saw an absolute action-packed battle. This fight was a great advert for the sport, the tournament and the cruiserweight division. People will talk about this fight for many years, especially in Russia.”

The winner of Usyk vs. Gassiev will become the first cruiserweight to unify all the titles in the four-belt era.