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Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Isaac Chilemba battle it out Saturday


By Allan Fox: NABF light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk (11-0, 9 KOs) will be defending his title this Saturday night against the highly rated Isaac Chilemba (24-4-2, 10 KOs) on HBO pay-per-view at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The fight card begins on Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

We’ve heard a lot from Gvozdyk’s promoters at Top Rank about how he’s the future of the 175lb division. Now we’re going to find out if that is in fact true or not when the 29-year-old former 2012 Olympian gets inside the ring with his first live body in Chilemba.

Gvozdyk comes into the fight with a KO percentage of 82%, but he’s not knocked out anyone that you can call a good fighter. Gvozdyk’s best KO of his short two-year pro career is arguably Nadjib Mohammedi. Gvozyk also has a recent knockout victory over fringe contender Tommy Karpency, who believe it or not, has twice fought for world titles in the 175lb division.

Karpency dropped Govzdyk in round one in their fight last July, and was giving him big problems in the 2nd round. Gvozdyk’s trainer had him make some adjustments in the 3rd round by using a little bit of movement. From that point in, Gvozdyk was able to take over the fight based on the movement he was doing.

It was fortunate for Gvozdyk was fighting a limited guy that didn’t know how to handle movement, because a better fighter would have easily dealt with the small amount of movement that he was using. Karpency didn’t know how to handle even a little bit of movement. Gvozdyk was moving in slow circles. The thing that was troubling about Gvozdyk is that he wasn’t able to get the better of Karpency when the two fighters stood and traded. Karpency was the better fighter of the two. The only thing that made Gvozdyk better in the fight was when he moved around the ring, and punched from angles. He didn’t look fast or impressive.

Gvozdyk just looked like a guy with decent power who was getting the better of a 2nd tier guy with limited boxing skills, and no ability to adjust to what he was doing with his movement.
Gvozdyk came from a good amateur background in Ukraine. He was beaten by Adilet Niyazimbetov in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics. In the 2011 World championships, Gvozdyk was beaten by Egor Mekhontsev, who went on to capture a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics by beating the guy that Gvozdyk lost to in Niyazimbetov.

Top Rank is pushing Gvozdyk at a fast pace for a fighter with just two years of pro experience under his belt. To be facing a well-rounded and experienced fighter like Chilemba after just two years in the pro ranks, it shows that Top Rank is going for broke and gambling that his amateur experience will be enough for Gvozdyk to succeed quickly. At 29, Gvozdyk isn’t young enough to be moved slowly by Top Rank. They must move him quickly. If they were to treat Gvozdyk like a normal fighter, they’d be waiting until he’s 32 or 33 before moving him. Normal fighters turn pro in their early 20s, not in their late 20s like Gvozdyk. He obviously spent too much time in the amateur ranks, and should have turned pro a long time ago.
Gvozdyk is going to need to use some different tactics against the 29-year-old Chilemba on Saturday night, because he’s not going to be mowed down by the power of Gvozdyk. Chilemba has been inside the ring with hard hitters before in fights against Sergey Kovalev, Eleider Alvarez, Denis Grachev, Tony Bellew x2 and Edison Miranda. None of those guys were able to knock him out. Indeed, none of those fighters even came close to stopping him. To beat Chilemba, you have to go the full 12 round distance with him and hope that you can out-box him through the distance. If Gvozdyk gets caught up trying to KO Chilemba on Saturday night, he could wind up getting tired and knocked out. Chilemba is obviously counting on that taking place, because he doesn’t feel worried at all in facing Gvozdyk and taking his best shots.

“If you are asking about power, you are asking the wrong person. Power doesn’t bother me. When I go into the fight I don’t think about how much power my opponent has,” said Chilemba. “I might get hit but I don’t take a minute to think about how strong my opponent is.”

Chilemba is coming off of a 12 round unanimous decision loss to Sergey Kovalev last July in Eraterinburg. Russia. Kovalev tried his best to get Chilemba out of there, but he couldn’t do it. In the end, Chilemba was nailing Kovalev with a lot of shots, and making him look really bad. Kovalev never stopped trying to get the KO, but he never came close to doing anything. Chilemba was too hard to hit, and was able to land a lot of his fast shots to the head of Kovalev to make him pay each time he would throw something.

“I will do whatever it takes to win. Roy Jones Jr. and me make a great team. Roy is a champion and I want to become champion. I watched Roy fight when I was younger. When I started boxing I tried to fight like Roy. I have really enjoyed working with him and I am really looking forward to the fight.”

If Chilemba can get even a little bit of the boxing skills that Roy Jones Jr. has in his game, he could be a lot of trouble for Gvozdyk on Saturday night. Jones Jr. knows a lot about the sport. However, the thing that made Jones so good was his hand speed. Once he started slowing down due to age, he wasn’t the same fighter. Jones can’t teach hand speed. All he can do is teach Chilemba the finer points of the game, and hope that he learns enough to where he can beat a guy like Gvozdyk.

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