Oleksandr Gvozdyk in Philly to defend recently won title
By Bill Tibbs
Top Rank Promotions, and ESPN, present WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk (16-0, 13 KO’s) on March 30, in the first defense of his title against contender Doudou Ngumbu (38-8, 14 KO’s). The two fighters will square off at the 2300 Arena in ‘The City of Brotherly Love’, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Gvozdyk, 31, an undefeated pro and a former 2012 (London) Olympian, is defending the title that he won in December of last year when he stopped long-reigning, light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson in the 11th round. While it was dream come true for the Ukraine-born, Oxnard, California resident, post-fight celebrations were somewhat dampened by the fact that Stevenson suffered a brain injury in the fight and is still in the slow recovery process.
Now, 3 months later, Gvozdyk, who is trained by the legendary Teddy Atlas, is ready to move on to his first title defense. His goal is to start building towards some possible unification fights with other champions in the division like WBA titleholder Dmitry Bivol and IBF titlist Artur Beterbiev; stablemate Segey Kovalev has the WBO light heavyweight title.
Gvozdyk, who is managed by highly-respected Igis Klimas (who also has Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk, among others, on his champion-filled roster) should get by Ngumbu without too many problems. However, the focused, dedicated champion isn’t looking past his Philadelphia assignment on March 30th.
While Ngumbu has 30 more fights in the pro ranks than Gvozdyk, experience is probably the only advantage he brings to the table against Gvozdyk. Most times that Ngumbu has stepped up he has lost, and he will be in with the best fighter he has ever faced in his 12-year career in Gvozdyk.
“The Nail” surprised a few people with his title-winning performance against Montreal’s Stevenson, in the former champions hometown. The champion’s relentless pressure, and non-stop attack to the head and body, finally wore down former champion Stevenson setting him up for the stoppage in the championship rounds.
In a recent interview Gvozdyk made it clear that he was well aware that it was tough to win the title and that the task of retaining it, against hungry contenders, won’t get any easier.
“It was a long journey for me to become a world champion and I plan on showing everyone why I am the best light heavyweight in the world,” said Gvozdyk, “Ngumbu is a tough fighter who I cannot afford to overlook”, he said.
And, while he does have a long-term goal of unifying the division, he knows step one is getting past his first title defence on Philadelphia.
“My goal in 2019 is to unify with the other champions”, said Gvozdyk, “but before I can do that, I have to take care of business on March 30.”