By Jake Donovan
Fresh out of his lopsided points win over Badou Jack in their sanctioned title eliminator, Marcus Browne had every right to believe that next up would be a showdown with defending champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk.
While it could be the next fight for Browne, he’s not necessarily next in line for a title shot.
The unbeaten light heavyweight from Staten Island is now the mandatory challenger for Gvozdyk’s title, as Saturday’s bout in Las Vegas was sanctioned by the World Boxing Council. The sanctioning guarantees Browne (23-0, 16KOs) a title shot which he is eager to make happen as soon as possible.
“Teddy Atlas (Gvozdyk’s trainer), you think you have the best light heavyweight?,” exclaimed Browne , who served on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Boxing team which competed in London. “Gvozdyk, let’s go!”
Likely to Browne’s disappointment, that day won’t come as quickly as he’d like—and certainly not until after Gvozdyk’s already approved voluntary title defense.
Gvozdyk (16-0, 13KOs) won the WBC—and Lineal—crown following an 11th round stoppage of Adonis Stevenson last December on the road in Quebec City, which left the exiting champion requiring emergency brain surgery from which he continues to recover.
The 31-year old boxer from Ukraine entered the fight as the mandatory challenger, thus freeing a void at the top upon his title win.
His first defense is tentatively scheduled to take place in early spring, as previously confirmed to the WBC who gave their blessing for a voluntary defense prior to sanctioning Browne vs. Jack as a final eliminator.
“WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk has a voluntary defense scheduled for March,” Mauricio Sulaiman explained to BoxingScene.com upon inquiry of the timeframe for his mandatory title defense. “Immediately after that bout takes place, we will order for the champion to next defend his title versus Marcus Browne as the mandatory challenge.
At the time of Gvozdyk’s aforementioned win over Stevenson, Jack (22-2-3, 13KOs) and Browne were the next two-highest rated WBC light heavyweight contenders. Neither were specifically assigned as a mandatory, having never won a WBC-sanctioned eliminator prior to Saturday which Browne prevailed in registering a career-best win.
Gvozdyk was granted a clear path to the title after unbeaten Eleider Alvarez—who had waited more than two years as a WBC mandatory challenger—instead faced Sergey Kovalev, whom he stopped in seven rounds last August to win the World Boxing Organization (WBO) light heavyweight title.
In taking that fight, the 34-year old Alvarez was dropped for the rankings. Gvozdyk was advanced to the mandatory slot, by virtue of his 12-round points win over Mehdi Amar last March in their interim title fight.
As for Browne, his first world title fight likely won’t come until sometime in the late summer or early fall. While sanctioning bodies normally disallow mandatory challengers from taking any other fight in the interim, his team could file for an exemption given the defending champion has been already granted the same courtesy.