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Oleksander Gvozdyk and Deontay Wilder favored to win

Image: Oleksander Gvozdyk and Deontay Wilder favored to win

By Dan Ambrose: WBC heavyweight champion Deontay ‘The Bronze Bomber’ Wilder and Oleksander ‘The Nail’ Gvozdyk are the favorites on Saturday night in their respective fights against Tyson Fury and WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis ‘Superman’ Stevenson. Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) is a -170 favorite to beat former IBF/WBA/WBO champion Tyson Fury +140 on Showtime pay-per-view at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, according to Bovada. The unbeaten interim World Boxing Council light heavyweight champion Gvozdyk (15-0, 12 KOs) is favored at -180 to beat the 41-year-old WBC 175 lb champion Stevenson (29-1-1, 24 KOs) at +150 at the Centre Videotron, Quebec City, in Quebec.

(photo credit: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME)

Many boxing fans are picking Fury over Wilder, and Stevenson to beat Gvozdyk. They think those are two are solid picks to come out victorious on Saturday night. In looking at how unglued and seemingly unbalanced Wilder has been acting lately when in the presence of Fury, it’s quite possible that he could lose to him on Saturday night in Los Angeles.

What seems to be bothering Wilder is how in this important moment of his career, a lot of boxing fans are circling their wagons around Fury, predicting that he’s going to win the fight. It’s not just fans making predictions of Fury winning. They WANT Fury to win. When this fight was made, Wilder, 32, might have assumed that the entire boxing world would pick him to win, and want him to win against the 30-year-old Fury.

After all, Fury had been out of the ring for close to three years after his upset win over Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, and he’d recently been forced to trim down from close to 400 lbs to get to 250. It’s unthinkable for a fighter to lose approximately 150 lbs and come back to beat a fighter like Wilder to become the new WBC champion of the world. Wilder, 6’7” is likely taking it as an insult to him that boxing fans think that Fury could beat him at this point of his comeback.

It would likely be less of an issue if this was still the same Fury that beat Klitschko three years ago. If it was that version of Fury that was fighting this Saturday, Wilder would be fine with it, but it’s not the same guy that beat Wladimir. Fury CAN’T be the same fighter that defeated Klitschko, cause he’s been out of the ring for so incredibly long, he’s not been taking care of his body properly, and he’s lose so much weight.

On paper, it shouldn’t even be a fight. Just based on ring activity, weight, health, speed, punching power and pure athleticism, Wilder should win this fight against Fury going away on Saturday night. But mentally it looks like Wilder has been crumbling in the last week, and he’s not acting like a mature fighter that is willing to to accept that he’s been dismissed and underestimated by a lot of boxing fans. That’s life. People do that all the time to each other. Wilder should be happy that he’s getting a chance to prove people wrong.

A lot of people don’t ever get a chance to prove people wrong when the door is closed on them without them getting an opportunity to show what they can do. Instead of Wilder getting indignant that he’s being overlooked by boxing fans against Fury, he should treat it as motivation, as he can prove to the fans how good he is. Wilder is a world champion, but he lacks the experience against solid opposition to where the fans see him as a sure thing over Fury. If Wilder had wins over a lot better opposition during his career, it’s safe to say that next to no one would be giving Fury a chance.

”I have no doubt that although we have a very steep challenge in front of us, that on Saturday night we will have a new Light Heavyweight Champion of the World,” Gvozdyk’s trainer Teddy Atlas said about the Stevenson fight. ”The good news is that we know exactly what we’re facing and we’ve prepared the last eight weeks for that. We have not overlooked anything,” Atlas said.

Gvozdyk, 31, is a good fighter, but he’s not looked invincible in his toughest fights of his career against Tommy Karpency and Medhi Amar. He was better than those guys, but he hasn’t looked nearly as impressive as Stevenson has looked. It took Gvozdyk six rounds to knockout Karpency in 2016. Gvozdyk was knocked down in the 1st round by the southpaw Karpency, and he continued to be hurt by him in rounds two and three. Karpency gave Gvozdyk major problems before he adapted and used his jab to control him from the outside.

In contrast, Stevenson blew out Karpency in three rounds in 2015. Stevenson might have had an advantage that Gvozdyk didn’t have in being a southpaw. It didn’t bother Stevenson nearly as much that he was fighting a southpaw in Karpency as it did with Gvozdyk. Stevenson showed no respect for Karpency’s punching power in knocking him out quickly. The way that Gvozdyk and Stevenson dealt with the same fighter is the only way of judging their talent. Stevenson looked a lot better in beating Karpency than Gvozdyk did, and that fight was only three years ago.

Stevenson has a big advantage in hand speed, power and experience over Gvozdyk. Stevenson has been in with Tony Bellew, Badou Jack, Sakio Bika, Chad Dawson, Darnell Boone, Andrzej Fonfara, Tavoris Cloud, Dmitry Sukhotskiy and Thomas Williams Jr. Gvozdyk’s toughest opponents of his five-year pro career have been Isaac Chilemba, Mehdi Amar, Yunieski Gonzalez, Tommy Karpency and Nadjib Mohammedi. Those guys don’t compare with the top guys that Stevenson has fought. Chilemba is a good fighter, but he had an arm injury when he fought Gvozdyk. Chilemba wasn’t healthy for that fight.

“I’m not worried about what the bookmakers say,” Gvozdyk said in responding to the news of him being the favorite to beat Stevenson. It doesn’t mean anything that they think I am the favorite. I try to stay focused on the things that I need to be focused on, not what the bookmakers think,” Gzozdyk said.

The main reason that the odds-makers has the 2012 Olympian Gvozdyk as the favorite in the fight is because of how Stevenson looked in his last fight against Badou Jack last May. Stevenson looked tired and weaker than usual in the second half of the contest. Jack was able to come on and land a lot of heavy shots to make the fight closer than it initially was in the first six rounds. The judges scored the contest a 12 round draw, but Stevenson still looked like he pulled it out. Stevenson says he’s been working on his conditioning for the Gvozdyk fight. If conditioning was indeed the issue for Stevenson against Jack, then there’s a chance that he’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again to him. It’s going to be hard enough for Gvozdyk to get to the second half of the fight without getting knocked out.

”The further this fight goes, the better my chances are. My height, my movement and my patience will win me this fight,” Gvozdyk said.

If the fight plays out like the Stevenson-Jack contest, then Gvozdyk could be right about his chances of him winning increasing as the fight goes into the later rounds.It’s still unlikely though. Gvozdyk has a weak chin, and Stevenson is one of the biggest punchers in the light heavyweight division.

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