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Oleksandr Gvozdyk to defend on March 30 LIVE on ESPN


By Chris Williams: Unbeaten WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksander Gvozdyk (16-0, 13 KOs) will be making his first defense of his World Boxing Council 175 lb title against an opponent still to be determined on March 30 on Top Rank Boxing in Philadelphia. The venue still hasn’t been decided, according to ESPN.

There are two possibilities for location: Liacouras Center on Temple University campus or 2300 Arena. It’s unclear why Top Rank wants to put Gvozdyk’s fight in Philadelphia. Perhaps they’re going to place a fighter from the area in the co-feature, which will help ticket sales locally, but won’t do much in terms of attracting attention from boxing fans locally.

2012 Olympic Ukrainian bronze medallist Gvozdyk has a following nationwide in the U.S. Since turning pro in 2012, Gvozdyk has won a lot of boxing fans with his impressive performances in beating Adonis Stevenson, Isaac Chilemba, Tommy Karpency, Yunieski Gonzalez, Medhi Amar and Nadjib Mohammedi.

This will be the 31-year-old Gvozdyk’s first fight ssince his tragic 11th round KO victory over former World Boxing council 175 lb champion Adonis ‘Superman’ Stevenson last month on December 1 at the Centre Videotron, Quebec City, Canada. Stevenson, 41, suffered a brain injury during the fight and had to have surgery. Stevenson remains hospitalized still since the fight.

These are some of the opponents that Top Rank will be choosing from for Gvozdyk’s next opponent on March 30:

– Igor Mikhalkin

– Dominic Boesel

– Blake Caparello

– Doudou Ngumbu

– Sven Fornling

– Enrico Koelling

– Humberto Velazco

– Felix Valera

– Ali Akhmedov

Most of these choices are very bad ones, as they’re obscure fighters with limited talent, and some of them have recently been beaten. for example, #3 WBC Igor Mikhalkin (22-2, 10 KOs) was knocked out in the 7th round by Sergey Kovalev last year in March 2018. Mikhalkin, 33, still might wind up being selected by Top Rank due to him being a southpaw, and they need Gvozdyk to be prepared to defend his title against his WBC mandatory challenger Marcus Browne (23-0, 16 KOs), who is also a southpaw. Browne earned the mandatory position by beating Badou Jack in a WBC 175 lb title eliminator bout on January 19. However, Mikhalkin fights nothing like Browne, and it’s doubtful that he’ll help Gvozdyk in any way at all to get him ready for a fight against the much faster, powerful and more athletic 28-year-old Browne.

Gvozdyk looked good in the later rounds against Stevenson, but he was still losing the fight because he wasn’t throwing enough punches. This was far the prime Stevenson that boxing fans had known five to seven years ago. Stevenson was in his 40s, and coming off of a grueling war with Jack when he fought Gvozdyk last December. It’s fair to say that if Stevenson was younger and at his best, Gvozdyk would have very likely lost the fight, because he did not look good until Adonis faded in the last seconds of the 10th round after hurt him with a left hand.

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