By Keith Idec
Training alongside Vasyl Lomachenko has inspired Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
Watching Lomachenko defeat top opposition and establish himself as one of the best boxers in the world, all with less than 10 professional fights on his record, has given Gvozdyk confidence that he, too, can win a world title very early in his professional career. In fact, if he conquers Cuban contender Yunieski Gonzalez on Saturday night, the unbeaten light heavyweight wants a world title shot in his following fight.
“I feel that I’m ready to fight for the title,” Gvozdyk told BoxingScene.com. “So I’m just waiting for the opportunity.”
Gvozdyk would prefer to challenge WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson (28-1, 23 KOs) because he has a good relationship with Sergey Kovalev. Ukraine’s Gvozdyk (12-0, 10 KOs) expects Russia’s Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) to win his rematch against Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) for the IBF/WBA/WBO 175-pound titles June 17 in Las Vegas.
The 29-year-old Gvozdyk realizes, though, that Gonzalez probably will provide the toughest test of his three-year pro career. Gonzalez (18-2, 14 KOs) has lost only a very close unanimous decision to former light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal (31-4-1, 18 KOs, 1 NC) and a majority decision to then-unbeaten Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (17-1, 14 KOs).
“Gonzalez is a very good fighter, very strong,” Gvozdyk said. “He’s experienced. I know he has good amateur experience, 350 fights. He’s a very good boxer, a very good opponent and a very big challenge for me. … I’m expecting the same he did against his previous opponents – pressure. That’s his style. I’m expecting pressure and I’ll try to neutralize it and do my job.”
The Gvozdyk-Gonzalez fight, a 10-rounder, will be one of three bouts HBO will televise Saturday night from MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs), Gvozdyk’s stablemate, is scheduled to defend his WBO world super featherweight title against Jason Sosa (20-1-4, 15 KOs) in the 12-round main event.
Gvozdyk feels his fellow Ukrainian is the best boxer, pound-for-pound, in the sport.
“Vasyl really inspires me to train harder,” said Gvozdyk, who’s managed by Egis Klimas, also the manager for Lomachenko and Kovalev. “He motivates me. Like before, when we had preparation for the  Olympic Games, I was watching him and his fights, and he inspired me. It’s easier when someone shows you through his example that anything is possible. That’s what Vasyl does for me. He’s a good example of how to become a great fighter.”
In his last fight, Gvozdyk was beating South African contender Isaac Chilemba convincingly before a hand injury prevented Chilemba (24-5-2, 10 KOs) from continuing after the eighth round. The 2012 Olympic bronze medalist won that scheduled 10-round bout by technical knockout on the Ward-Kovalev undercard November 19 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“I think I boosted myself in that fight, got some new fans,” Gvozdyk said. “For me, I try to improve on my skills from fight to fight. That was just a little step in my professional career. I became more confident. It was a good fight against a good opponent.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.