Canelo Alvarez using Oleksandr Gvozdyk as sparring partner for Dmitry Bivol preparation

By Dan Ambrose: Canelo Alvarez has added former WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk to his team as one of his sparring partners to help him prepare for his title challenge against WBA 175-lb champion Dmitry Bivol on May 7th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

ESPN Deportes is reporting the news of Canelo (57-1-2, 39 KOs), adding the talented Ukrainian Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) to help him get ready for the formidable challenge of the undefeated Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs).

Gvozdyk has been retired for the last 2 1/2 years since getting stopped by IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev in the tenth round in October 2019. However, there’s recently been talk of the 34-year-old Gvozdyk making a comeback.

The sparring help that Canelo will get from Gvozyk could prove to be invaluable in helping him get prepared for the 31-year-old Russian Bivol. With that said, Gvozdyk’s fighting style is different than Bivol’s, so it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to help Canelo enough to get the victory.

The main differences between Bivol and Gvozdyk are in the areas of mobility and combination punching. Bivol is a much better mover and combination puncher than Gvozdyk was during his career.

The one area where Gvozyk had a slight edge on Bivol was in the power department. Gvozyk had better power than Bivol, but obviously, that didn’t help him when he went up against Beterbiev in 2019.

Image: Canelo Alvarez using Oleksandr Gvozdyk as sparring partner for Dmitry Bivol preparation

Gvozdyk’s notable wins:

  • Adonis Stevenson
  • Yunieski Gonzalez
  • Mehdi Amar
  • Isaac Chilemba
  • Tommy Karpency
  • Nadjib Mohammedi
  • Otis Griffin
  • Doudou Ngumbu

Gvozyk’s come from behind 11th round knockout win over 41-year-old Adonis ‘Superman’ Stevenson in December 2018 tragically resulted in the southpaw suffering a brain injury that ended his successful career.

Stevenson hurt Gvozyk in the ninth and tenth rounds with big left-hand shots and appeared to be on his way to winning the fight in the eleventh when the Ukrainian unleashed a 10-punch flurry of shots, resulting in Adonis being knocked unconscious.

Another reason for Canelo using Gvozdyk as one of his sparring partners could be to get valuable tips that he can use later for when/if he challenges IBF/WBC 175-lb champion Artur Beterbiev.

If Gennadiy Golovkin loses to Ryota Murata this Saturday and Canelo defeats Bivol on May 7th, the Mexican star will face the winner of the Beterbiev vs. Joe Smith Jr. unification fight in September. That’s what Canelo’s trainer/manager Eddy Reynoso revealed this week.

Beterbiev struggled early against Gvozdyk, but once he began attacking his body at the fight’s midpoint, he quickly wore him down with those shots. By the tenth, Gvozdyk had nothing left and was taken out by Beterbiev with a battery of shots.

Beterbiev will likely use the same approach against Canelo if the two wind up fighting this year in September. He’ll ignore Canelo’s head and focus on his midsection. All the upper body movement that Canelo learned from Floyd Mayweather Jr. won’t help him avoid Beterbiev’s body shots.

Any way you look at it, Beterbievis a lousy style match-up for Canelo. Beterbiev’s face-paced fighting and emphasis on throwing body shots will be a nightmare for Canelo. He has stamina problems and doesn’t handle body shots nearly as well as he does with headshots.

There’s not much Gvozdyk can reveal to him to defeat Beterbiev other than make sure he stays on his bicycle for all 12 rounds.

With the unbeaten Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) likely to defeat WBO champion Joe Smith Jr. in their unification fight this summer, there’s an outside chance that Canelo could be facing the two-time Russian Olympian Artur in September.

What’s interesting is that a lot of boxing fans are actively rooting for Murata to defeat Golovkin. It’s not that they’re fans of Murata. The only thing that would stand in the way of that fight happening is Golovkin beating Murata on Saturday.

They prefer to see Canelo facing Beterbiev in September rather than the 40-year-old Golovkin, who has been playing it safe fighting weaker opposition to keep alive his chances of the third contest with Canelo.