LAS VEGAS – Former Olympian and WBC light-heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk is hoping to maintain Ukraine’s run of form in big fights against David Benavidez.

In the aftermath of important wins for Serhii Bohachuk, Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk and Denys Berinchyk, Gvozdyk hopes he can extend that impressive run.

Gvozdyk is 20-1 (16 KOs) and is welcoming the super middleweight up to 175lbs at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday.

It’s good,” said “The Nail”. “It makes me remember those cool vibes from the Olympic Games when we were all fighting together and were winning together. Hopefully I’ll continue the streak.”

And it remains a motivation for Gvozdyk to bring joy to his home country, and boost those struggling in the war-torn country following Russia’s invasion.

“Of course, to cheer them up, especially in the hard times for Ukraine,” he said.

Benavidez has weighed more than 180lbs as a pro, but he has been dominant at super middleweight, although he has grown tired of wating for a fight with the undisputed champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, hence his move up in weight.

He wants to get in the mix with the winner of the unification fight in October between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitrii Bivol, but Gvozdyk, who lost via stoppage to Beterbiev in Philadelphia in a battle in 2019, is in Benavidez’s way, even though the Ukrainian believes Benavidez might be even better up at 175lbs. 

“Well, this is what I think, because he’s a big guy – he also said that at 175 he feels more comfortable but we will see,” said Gvozdyk. “Oh I rate him very high because he’s one of the best in boxing. He’s a ‘Monster’ and he’s becoming one of the most avoided fighters not for no reason. If he would be like a piece of cake, everyone would like to fight him. But for some reason, nobody is, so he’s obviously one of the best fighters in boxing.”

The hype – the talk – is around the undefeated Benavidez, who can’t steer clear of being asked about Canelo. Does that mean people are looking beyond Gvozdyk?

“Maybe,” he said. “I don’t know. We will see on Saturday.”

Gvozdyk spent time in hospital after the Beterbiev loss, and there is a danger that it took something from the fighter that he might not get back. He did not fight for three years afterwards.  

“It gave me three years of rest,” Gvozdyk insisted.

“I’m ready to go again. At 37, I hope you will see my best on Saturday.”