Oleksandr Gvozdyk might not yet have the superstar status being lavished on his close friends Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk, but he is now the man to conquer in the Light-Heavyweight division.
‘The Nail’ will look to hammer Frenchman Doudou Ngumbu in the first defence of his WBC 175lb Title in Philadelphia on March 30th, live on BoxNation.
He joined his elite friends as a World Champion in December when he travelled to Quebec and ended Adonis Stevenson’s five-and-a-half year reign, knocking out the Canadian in the 11th round.
The win was overshadowed by the injuries suffered by Stevenson who needed brain surgery and weeks in a medically induced coma, but if reports are true he’s recovering better than many expected.
That win for Gvozdyk also saw him crowned Lineal Light-Heavyweight Champion and if unifications against Russian Sergey Kovalev (WBO), Dmitry Bivol (WBA) or Artur Beterbiev (IBF) get made he can reach certified superstar status.
Gvozdyk is trained by Teddy Atlas and credits him for him becoming a World Champion, a dream that, at stages during his career, looked unlikely.
Although I covered him at London 2012 when he won a bronze medal, I can remember working his fight against Tommy Karpency back in 2016 when he was dropped in round one before winning in the sixth.
Since then he has rarely disappointed and prior to his upset over Stevenson was crowned WBC Interim Champion after defeating Mehdi Amar.
He has also stopped hard man Issac Chilemba on injury but was well ahead on the cards and won plaudits when he smashed Craig Baker in six.
Gvozdyk has nine knockouts in his last 10 fights and besides leaning heavily on Atlas he likes to remain close to Lomachenko whenever they are both in the United States.
He explained: “Lomachenko is my good friend. We were together on amateur team. I met him first like, maybe 2004.
“Lomachenko has training camps in Oxnard, always in the same gym, and I always join to him to train together.
“His father used to train me in amateur – he was not like, my official trainer, but he always was helping me and we always trained together. He helps me now in camp, too.
“It’s very good having Lomachenko here in Oxnard. It’s good memory, you know, like when we were amateurs together having a training camp, making preparations for Olympic Games or World Championships.
“Now it’s like it’s come back again and we’re all together again. It’s very interesting and very exciting.
"We even meet in Ukraine because we’re living in different cities. But here, we’re all together, so we spend all of our leisure time together – holidays and weekends, always together. I still don’t have a lot of friends in America.”
Although he is unsure of his exact amateur record, Gvozdyk claims he had between 250 and 255 contests and lost around 30.
In the World Series of Boxing he won all nine contests, and went so close to reaching the Olympic final, losing his semi-final against Adilbek Niyazymbetov of Kazakhstan on a count back after a 13-13 tie.