Top Rank requesting Gvozdyk become Kovalev’s WBO mandatory

By Boxing News - 12/03/2017 - Comments

Image: Top Rank requesting Gvozdyk become Kovalev’s WBO mandatory

By Jim Dower: The World Boxing Organization revealed on Sunday that Top Rank has requested that #1 WBO Oleksandr Gvozdyk (14-0, 12 KOs) to be made the mandatory challenger to new WBO World light heavyweight champion Sergey ‘The Krusher’ Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KOs).

Kovalev is scheduled to be making his first defense of his WBO title in early 2018 on March 3 against an opponent still to be determined at Madison Square Garden in New York. Kovalev mentioned wanting to fight Sullivan Barrera for that title defense. If it’s not Barrera that Kovalev faces, it’ll likely be one of the lower ranked contenders in the WBO’s rankings. Kovalev says he wants to fight a unification match, but that’s not expected to take place in his next fight in March.

Gvozdyk’s promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank e-mailed the WBO to ask them to make the 30-year-old Gvozdyk the mandatory for Kovalev.

In some ways, it’s a bit surprising that Top Rank is making this move, as Gvozdyk and Kovalev are supposed to be friends. But it looks like Gvozdyk’s promoter at Top Rank see this as a great opportunity for him to fight for a world title instead of waiting his entire career for a title shot against WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis ‘Superman’ Stevenson to give him a title shot.

Gvozdyk is ranked No.2 with the World Boxing Council at this time, #3 WBA and #4 IBF. Stevenson is said to be looking to steer around his current mandatory challenger Eleider Alvarez to take a voluntary defense against Badou Jack. It’s been 4 years since Stevenson fought a mandatory challenger. It’s not worth it for Gvozdyk to wait on a fight with Stevenson. He’s not young enough to throw 4 or more years away waiting for Stevenson to eventually face him.

Kovalev recently defeated Vyacheslav Shabranskyy by a 2nd round knockout on November 25 to win the vacant WBO title that had recently been vacated by Andre Ward. The WBO let Kovalev skip past Gvozdk to fight Shabranskyy for the vacant WBO title instead of ordering him to fight Gvozdyk. It’s too bad for Gvozdyk that the WBO didn’t make that move, because that would have been ideal situation for him. Kovalev stayed ranked high by the WBO despite getting beaten twice by Ward.

2012 Ukrainian Olympic bronze medalist Gvozdyk has looked good lately in beating Craig Baker, Yunieksi Gonzalez, Isaac Chilemba and Tommy Karpency. Gvozdyk seems to be getting better with each fight. He’s been waiting a long time for a title shot, and he wants to fight one of the champions already. If Top Rank can get Gvozdyk a crack at Kovalev’s WBO belt in 2018, it would be an excellent opportunity. Gvozdyk likely has already studied Kovalev’s 2 fights with Ward, and knows what weaknesses he can take advantage of to defeat the Russian.