By Keith Idec
Bob Arum wasn’t just trying to sell a pay-per-view show Wednesday.
The Hall-of-Fame promoter prone to embellishment also took the unsolicited opportunity to hype up a fighter who’s not even on his card Saturday night in Carson, California. While praising manager Egis Klimas and preparing to announce several promising prospects on Saturday’s undercard, Arum claimed that Oleksandr Gvozdyk has surpassed Andre Ward as the best light heavyweight in boxing.
Ukraine’s Gvozdyk (13-0, 11 KOs) is less than two weeks removed from the most impressive victory of his three-year pro career. The 2012 Olympic bronze medalist annihilated Cuban contender Yunieski Gonzalez (18-3, 14 KOs) in what was supposed to be a tough test for Gvozdyk, who floored Gonzalez twice on his way to a third-round technical knockout win April 8 at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Gvozdyk’s win was widely praised throughout the boxing industry, though obviously not enough to surpass such elite light heavyweights as Ward (31-0, 15 KOs), who owns the IBF, WBA and WBO titles, former champion Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson (28-1, 23 KOs).
“Egis constantly surprises us,” Arum said during a press conference to promote Saturday’s card. “I knew right from the get-go what a great fighter Vasyl Lomachenko would be, and was as an amateur. But then this young man, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, the light heavyweight, was on the same card. He’s been fighting for us. Undefeated, and knocked out a guy who was supposed to give him fits, if not beat him, in the third round. And Gvozdyk, in my opinion, with all due respect to my dear friend, Andre Ward, I believe that Gvozdyk is the best light heavyweight in the world.
“So if Egis talks about a fighter, and says how good the fighter is and will be, I just tell all you guys, listen, because the man knows what he’s talking about.”
Ward, incidentally, co-manages Shakur Stevenson, the Olympic silver medalist who’ll make his pro debut on Saturday’s card at StubHub Center. Stevenson is set to oppose Phoenix’s Edgar Brito (3-2-1, 2 KOs) in a six-round featherweight fight that’ll start a four-bout pay-per-view telecast ($54.95 in HD; 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
In the main event Saturday night, Mexico’s Oscar Valdez (21-0, 19 KOs) is scheduled to defend his WBO world featherweight title against Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga (25-1, 21 KOs), Valdez’s mandatory challenger.
The co-featured fight will match Mexico’s Gilberto Ramirez (34-0, 24 KOs), the WBO world super middleweight champion, against Ukraine’s Max Bursak (33-4-1, 15 KOs). The other televised fight will pit WBO world super bantamweight champion Jessie Magdaleno (24-0, 17 KOs), of Las Vegas, against Brazil’s Adeilson Dos Santos (18-2, 14 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.