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Gvozdyk vs. Chilemba this Saturday on HBO PPV


By Allan Fox: This Saturday night light heavyweight contenders Oleksandr Gvozdyk (11-0, 9 KOs) and Isaac Chilemba (24-4-2, 10 KOs) do battle on the Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward card at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The promoters for the 29-year-old Chilemba have been putting him through the gauntlet recently by matching him against Sergey Kovalev, Eleider Alvarez and Vasily Lepikhin in his last three fights.

(Photo credit: Craig Bennett/Main Events)

Not long before that, Chilemba was matched against Denis Grachev, twice with Tony Bellew and Edison Miranda. This is all within the last four years that Chilemba has fought all these guys. He’s been matched tough even before that though. He’s not had an easy time with all the guys he’s been put in with.

Some boxing fans feel that 2012 Ukrainian Olympian Gvozdyk, 29, is going to be a star in the light heavyweight division. If that’s going to be the case, then he’s probably going to need to wait until Kovalev, Ward, Adonis Stevenson and Artur Beterbiev clear out, because he does not look as good as any of them. Gvozdyk might not even beat Chilemba on Saturday. He certainly doesn’t have his boxing skills or hand speed. The only thing that Gvozdyk has over Chilemba is his punching power. He’s not as good a defensive fighter.

Gvozdyk was knocked down by Tommy Karpency in the 1st round last July. Karpency continued to dominate Gvozdyk in the 2nd. It wasn’t until the 3rd round that Gvozdyk was able to take over the fight by using movement. Karpency didn’t have the ability to handle the movement, and he ended up getting stopped in the 6th round. Still, Gvozdyk did not look like a fighter in the same class as the really good fighters in the 175lb division. Adonis Stevenson toyed with Karpency in knocking him out in three rounds last year in September. The fact that Gvozdyk couldn’t dominate him too suggests that he has a long ways to go before he gets to the level of the top guys at 175.

Gvozdyk’s other big win was against 31-year-old former world title challenger Nadjib Mohammed (38-5, 23 KOs) who he beat by a 2nd round knockout last April in Las Vegas. It was a good win for Gvozdyk in beating Mohammedi, but was far from a sign that he’s going to be the next big thing in the 175lb division. You have to remember that Mohammedi was coming off of a 3rd round knockout at the hands of Kovalev in his previous fight in July of 2015. There are questions of whether Mohammedi’s punch resistance and confidence were still intact after a loss like that.

If Gvozdyk had beaten Mohammedi BEFORE he lost to Kovalev rather than after, then you could make a big deal out of the victory and give him more credit for having done so. The boxing public as a whole were excited about Gvozdyk’s win over Mohammedi, because they felt it was a great sign that he did the job quicker in stopping him than Kovalev did. But I don’t think that means much though, because the circumstances were different.

Chilemba will have the foot speed advantage in this fight on Saturday night over Gvozdyk. If all Gvozdyk is going to do is move around in circles and try and jab, then he’s going to have problems winning the fight, because Chilemba can handle guys that move. Trying to beat Chilemba by jabbing and throwing pot shot power punches is probably not going to do the job. Gvozdyk is going to need to change his fighting style to be more of a combination puncher and I’m talking about sustained combinations. Those were the only type that Kovalev threw that gave Chilemba problems. If you look at Chilemba’s fights against Kovalev and Tony Bellew, both guys were ineffective when they would load up on one or two punches and try and land. Chilemba easily eluded many of the shots and countered them. They were only effective when they attacked with a flurry of shots. Bellew ended up with a draw and a victory over Chilemba in their two fights. However, many boxing fans believe that Bellew received controversial decisions in both fights, as they took place in his home country of the UK rather than in a neutral venue.

Chilemba appeared to be the better fighter in both fights, but the judges didn’t give him credit for what he’d done. It’ll be bad news for Gvozdyk if he tries to bang Chilemba out with single power shots on Saturday night, because he doesn’t have the hand speed or the overall quickness to land those shots. Govozdyk telegraphs his punches too much, and that makes it easy to know when he’s going to throw something. That’s why he’s better off just attacking Chilemba with sustained flurries, because there’s no point in him trying to attack with single shots if those punches have little chance of connecting to their target.

Also on Saturday’s card is a fight between former middleweight world title challenger Curtis Stevens (28-5, 21 KOs) and James “The King” De La Rosa (23-4, 13 KOs). This is a mismatch. There’s not much to say about it other than it’s not a good fight unless you like watching over-matched guys get blown out. De La Rosa, 28, does not belong in the same ring with Stevens.

De La Rosa has lost four out of his last seven fights. I don’t know why he was picked out for a world class fighter like Stevens tonight, because it’s not a fair fight. De La Rosa has lost his last two fights against Jason Quigley and Hugo Centeno Jr. Not long before that, De La Rosa lost to Marcus Willis and Allen Conyers. De La Rosa’s high point in his career was his 10 round unanimous decision win over Alfredo Angulo two years ago in 2014.

I think this is a bad fight because Stevens is much better fighter than De La Rosa. It’s not worthy of being on HBO pay-per-view in my opinion. This is the type of fight that would have been good for Stevens when he first started his career, but not now. Stevens is 31 now, and he should be fighting better opposition at this point in his career.

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