By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Oleksander Gvozdyk couldn’t get rid of Mehdi Amar in a 12-round fight that was harder than anticipated Saturday night.
And now comes the really hard part.
Beating Amar by unanimous decision in The Theater at Madison Square Garden earned Ukraine’s Gvozdyk the WBC’s interim light heavyweight title. This victory is supposed to ensure Gvozdyk’s shot at the winner of the May 19 bout between WBC 175-pound champion Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack in Montreal.
Gvozdyk isn’t sure that if Stevenson beats Jack that the long-reigning, 40-year-old champion will fight him anytime soon. That’s why he’ll root for Jack to win.
For now, however, he’ll briefly celebrate capturing an interim championship Gvozdyk was expected to win by knockout.
The 30-year-old Gvozdyk (15-0, 12 KOs) instead out-boxed the 35-year-old Amar (34-6-2, 16 KOs) to win on all three scorecards in a fight ESPN televised as part of the Amir Imam-Jose Ramirez undercard. All three judges – Larry Hazzard Jr. (117-111), Kevin Morgan (116-112) and Robin Taylor (118-110) – gave Gvozdyk credit for a relatively easy victory.
Gvozdyk got off to a slow start Saturday night and overall wasn’t as impressive as he has been in previous televised fights. Amar had some success with his right hand in the first two rounds and caused some swelling around Gvozdyk’s right eye, which worsened throughout the bout.
Gvozdyk began landing his right hand in the third round. He backed Amar into the ropes with a right hand early in the fourth.
Following fifth and sixth rounds that largely lacked action, Amar woke up Gvozdyk with a right hand late in the seventh round. That prompted Gvozdyk to go after Amar, who was backed into the ropes by Gvozdyk’s combination before the bell sounded to end the round.
Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. warned Amar for a low blow early in the ninth round. Moments earlier, Amar complained because he felt Gvozdyk hit him low.
Gvozdyk landed a right hand with just under two minutes to go in the 10th round that moved Amar backward.
Gvozdyk tried to finish Amar with a little over a minute to go in the 12th round. He landed a combination that moved Amar into the ropes, but Amar fired back with a hard left hook to got Gvozdyk’s attention.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.