SAN DIEGO, Calif., Dec. 1, 2018 – While the boxing world’s attention is focused on the heavyweight championship fight in Los Angeles Saturday, it shouldn’t forget another world championship fight with its division’s future at stake.
Lucky for fans, this may be the better fight, and no PPV fees are necessary.
WBC and lineal light heavyweight champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson of Canada (29-1-1, 24 KOs) puts his legacy on the line against former Olympic bronze medalist and undefeated challenger Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk of Ukraine (15-0, 12 KOs). Stevenson vs Gvozdyk takes place at the Videotron Center in Quebec City, Canada. It will air in the U.S. on Showtime Boxing starting at 6:45 p.m. ET/3:45 p.m. PT as the first of a doubleheader with the Wilder vs. Fury Showtime PPV card.
Stevenson, age 41, won the title via a shocking knockout of Chad Dawson in 2013. His performance won him Fighter of the Year honors. Stevenson defended the title successfully nine times, always at home in Canada. Fans always hoped he would take on the man who owned the other three major titles in the division, Sergey Kovalev of Russia. But it never happened. In his most recent defense in May, Stevenson won a disputed majority decision over Badou Jack. Finally, it seemed Stevenson’s age might be showing.
Gvozdyk, age 31, trains at the Boxing Laboratory in Oxnard, California alongside his famous Ukrainian stablemates Oleksandr Usyk, the unified cruiserweight division champion, and lightweight Vasyl Lomachenko, considered by many the world’s best pound for pound fighter. A former Olympic bronze medalist, ‘The Nail’ has remained under the radar when compared to his countrymen for all but the most hardcore boxing fans. Winning the fight Saturday against Stevenson could change this, and change his life.
Teddy Atlas in Gvozdyk’s corner
In preparation for the fight, Gvozdyk left trainer Marco Contreras, and brought on Teddy Atlas out of retirement. Atlas was last in the corner of Timothy Bradley against Brandon Rios in 2015.
“Teddy Atlas has been a great addition to my team,” said Gvozdyk. “He has motivated me throughout camp to become the best version of ‘The Nail.’ I won’t divulge any secrets, but you will see what Teddy has added to my arsenal on Saturday night.
“I have one of the greatest trainers in the history of boxing, so I’m very confident. We have a good strategy. We had an excellent training camp and I’m ready. Adonis is a great fighter. He’s a dangerous southpaw and this is a real step up for me, but it’s my time.”
Stevenson promises he isn’t overlooking the Ukrainian. “I’m not underestimating Gvozdyk. I know he’s a good fighter and he’s hungry. He’s trained very hard to get my title. But everybody who comes to my home in Canada always wants my title, but it’s never happened and it’s not going to happen now,” said Stevenson.
Gvozdyk has never been concerned about fighting on the road. “It doesn’t matter to me where I fight. The Canadian fans will boo me when I enter the ring, but the boos will turn to cheers after I show them what I am made of,” said Gvozdyk.
Stevenson: Going for the knockout
Stevenson says he’ll be going for a knockout. “That’s just my mentality and the way that I train,” said Stevenson. “But I can also go 12 rounds, it’s not a problem. I know that if he makes a mistake, I’m going to catch him. He only has to slip up once in 12 rounds. One mistake, one punch. That’s all it’s going to take.”
“I’ve been pushing myself in training and I’m going to put on another great performance come Saturday and will defend my title once again. In the words of my old trainer, Emanuel Steward, ‘knockouts sell’ and that’s what I’m going for in this fight. I know I’m facing a good boxer who’s coming in very determined. He’ll be ready, but it won’t be enough. Superman is in the building!”
Criticize Stevenson all you like for not having many weapons and not being able to go 12 rounds. When you possess a left hook like the powerful southpaw does, you don’t need anything else.
Father Time always wins. Has Stevenson’s time finally come? Time finally defeated even the ageless 51 year old light heavyweight Bernard Hopkins. Stevenson struggled against Jack in his last fight. Gvozdyk has been quietly, steadily building on the skills developed during his amateur career. Training alongside his friends Usyk and Gvozdyk could be nothinig but inspiring. Should Gvozdyk win, the trio will own ten world titles among themselves.
Gvozdyk is convinced Stevenson is overlooking him, already thinking about a possible unification fight with Canadian countryman Eleider Alvarez. He warns the champion against it. “Adonis has talked about fighting the other world champions after he fights me,” said Gvozdyk “He should worry about the challenge in front of him. I am coming to Canada on a mission.”
Stevenson vs Gvozdyk: Our prediction
We agree. We called the last fight for Jack, and in the eyes of many, he won. Like Jack, Gvozdyk should be able to avoid the lights out punch, and do enough damage to stop Stevenson. Based on the results with Jack, Gvozdyk knows he’s only assured a win when he takes the fight out of the hands of the judges (Guido Cavalleri of Italy, Mike Ross of the US, and Jack Woodburn of Canada). It will make for an exciting, go-for-broke fights in the later rounds if seems close on the cards. It’s likely to be the most entertaining fight of the day.
If Gvozdyk wins, the floodgates of possible matchups in the competitive light heavyweight division yields many entertaining possibilities including title holders Alvarez, Dmitry Bivol, Artur Beterviev, and former champions Sergey Kovalev and Sullivan Barrera. Consider it your pugilistic Christmas present.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News.
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