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Lomachenko-Sosa, Usyk-Hunter & Gvozdyk-Gonzalez this Saturday

Vasiliy Lomachenko

By Jim Dower:: This Saturday night on HBO World Championship Boxing, WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs) will be back inside the ring defending his title against puncher Jason Sosa (20-1-4, 15 KOs) from The Theater at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The card kicks off on HBO at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

(Photo Credit/Miguel Salazar, Team Usyk)

The undercard is stacked with WBO World cruiserweight champion Alexander Usyk (11-0, 10 KOs) defending his title against 2012 U.S Olympian Michael Hunter (12-0, 8 KOs). This could be the toughest fight to date for the 30-year-old 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk. Also on Saturday’s undercard is 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Oleksandr Gvozdyk (12-0, 10 KOs) from Ukraine taking on Cuban Yunieski Gonzalez (18-2, 14 KOs) in a fight that promises to have a lot of fireworks.

Lomachenko, 29, is taking his fight with Sosa very seriously, as it’s one of the toughest opponents he will have faced during his short. Sosa is one of those guys that keeps plowing ahead no matter how often he’s hit. Sosa likes to brawl with his opponents, and he’s got the power and the chin to fight a battle like that.

Lomachenko isn’t going to be able to stay on the outside and not get his feet wet in this fight. Sosa, 29, is really good at cutting off the ring on his opponents and forcing them to exchange with him. Lomachenki might start out thinking he can box Sosa from the outside like he did his last opponent Nichaolas Walters, but he’s going to find out the hard way that Sosa is going to be putting him under an extreme amount of pressure for as long as the fight lasts. Sosa will not be giving Lomachenklo a lot of room for him to box the way that Walters and Roman “Rocky” Martinez both did.

Usyk has a very good opponent on his hands in Michael Hunter. We saw recently in Hunter’s wins over Isiah Thomas and Phil Williams that he’s the real deal. Hunter looks like he’s got the talent to be a world champion at cruiserweight. The only thing we don’t know is if he’s good enough to beat Usyk. Even if Hunter isn’t able to defeat Usyk, he’s got the kind of talent that will enable him to capture a world title in the near future if he keeps winning the way he’s been. Hunter gave Artur Beterbiev all kinds of problems in the 2012 Olympics.

“The biggest motivation for me is my desire to be the best, I give 100% every day in the gym, I know that I need to continue to improve to become the undisputed cruiserweight world champion,” said Usyk.

Usyk defeated Thabiso Mchunu by a 9th round knockout last December in a defensive battle. Usyk had to box Mchunu for most of the fight. In the 8th round, Usyk began to throw a lot of punches from different angles to confuse Mchunu. The style worked, as Mchunu couldn’t keep up with all the incoming punches from Usyk. The crowd wasn’t pleased with the lack of slugging from Usyk. They wanted to see a brawl rather than a boxing match.

The 6’3″ southpaw Usyk is going to need to use his punching power more for his fight against Hunter on Saturday, because he’s going to have problems if he tries to box him for 12 rounds. Hunter, 6’2″, has good size and top notch boxing skills. He could pull off an upset if Usyk tries to box him like he did Mchunu.

Gvozdyk, 29, has what could be the toughest fight on the card against Yunieski Gonzalez. Gvozdyk was knocked down in round 1 in his fight against former world title challenger Tommy Karpency last July. It wasn’t a flash knockdown. Gvozdyk was really hurt by the southpaw Karpency. However, Gvozdyk was able to come back from the knockdown to take over the fight and stop Karpency in round 6. Gvozdyk defeated Isaac chilemba by a 8th round stoppage on November 19 last year. Chilemba suffered a hand injury and couldn’t continue. That was Gozdyk’s 6th consecutive stoppage victory since 2015. Gvozdyk also knocked out former world title challenger Nadjib Mohammedi in the 2nd round on April 9 last year. It was good win for Gvozdyk.

Yunieski Gonzalez, 31, is coming into Saturday’s fight with Gvozdyk having lost 2 out of his last 4 fights in defeats to Vyacheslav Shabranskyy and Jean Pascal. Gonzalez appeared to have done enough to deserve the victory over Pascal. The loss to Shabranskyy was a clear loss. He was simply outworked by him. In Gonzalez’s last two fights he’s beaten Jackson Junior and Maxwell Amponsah by 1st round knockouts.

Beibut Shumenov defends against Yunier Dorticos on April 29

WBA World cruiserweight champion Beibut Shumenov (17-2, 11 KOs) will be making his first defense of his WBA title this month on April 29 against WBA interim champion Yunier Dorticos (21-0, 20 KOs) at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The Shumenov-Dorticos fight will be televised on Premier Boxing Champions on Fox Sports 1. This is a mandatory defense by Shumenov. This is a tough fight for him. Dorticos might have too much power and offensive skills for Beterbiev to handle.

Shumenov, 33, won the vacant World Boxing Association title last year in stopping little known Junior Anthony Wright in the 10th round on May 21. The WBA has 2 champions at cruiserweight. Shumenov is the WBA ‘World’ champion and Denis Lebedev is the WBA ‘Super’ World champion. It’s pretty confusing for the boxing fans to keep track of the multiple champions the WBA has at cruiserweight right now. As I mentioned previously, the Cuban Dorticos, 31, is the interim WBA champion. Dorticos won the partial title after stopping Youri Kayembre Kalenga (22-3, 16 KOs) in the 10th round on May 20th last year. Kalenga had never been knocked out before during his career. He’d been beaten a couple of times but never stopped until Dorticos did it. Dorticos has been out of the ring for the last 11 months.

Dorticos was a very amateur with 257 fights back when he was living in Cuba. He lost to Artur Beterbiev in the 2006 World Cup competition in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Shumenov has won his last 3 fights since losing a 12 round split decision to Bernard Hopkins on April 19, 2014. Shumenov changed his fighting style after the loss to Hopkins, becoming much more mobile, and using an in and out attacking style. Against Hopkins, Shumenov stood in front of him for 12 rounds, using a lot of feints, but not attacking him the way he needed to do. If Shumenov had used his current style of fighting, he probably would have beaten Hopkins. He had the wrong style for that fight. Since that loss, Shumenov has beaten Bobby Thomas Jr., BJ Flores and Junior Antony Wright. Shumenov has looked much better in those fights than he had earlier in his career. Shumenov’s last fight was 11 months ago. It’s a long layoff for the 33-year-old Shumenov, who needs to be busier if he wants to take advantage of the time that he has left in his career.

Shumenov might have a chance to become the WBA’s top champion if he faces the 37-year-old Lebedev at this point in his career. Lebedev lost his last fight to the big punching Murat Gassiev, and he might be vulnerable now due to his advanced age. The recently beaten former WBO champion Marco Huck is one of the top contenders in the division. He would be a problem for Beterbiev if the two of them face each other in the future.

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