By Keith Idec
OXON HILL, Maryland – Oleksandr Gvozdyk’s handlers hope he wasn’t too good for his own good Saturday night.
Ukraine’s Gvozdyk produced the most impressive victory over his three-year pro career in what was supposed to be a challenging fight against Yunieski Gonzalez. The light heavyweight contender displayed poise, power and a sturdy chin on his way to a third-round technical knockout in a bout HBO broadcast from MGM National Harbor.
“Oh, my God,” said Egis Klimas, Gvozdyk’s manager. “I thought that would be the most competitive fight [Saturday night], and it came out the most easiest fight.”
Klimas also manages Vasyl Lomachenko and Aleksandr Usyk, who also won their HBO bouts Saturday night as a part a tripleheader that featured Ukrainian standouts in each of the three fights.
Lomachenko (8-1, 6 KOs), the WBO world super featherweight champion, dominated former WBA world super featherweight champion Jason Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KOs) through nine rounds before their main event was stopped by Raul Rivas, Sosa’s trainer. Usyk (12-0, 10 KOs) soundly defeated previously unbeaten Michael Hunter (12-1, 8 KOs) on his way to winning a unanimous decision and defending his WBO world cruiserweight championship.
It was Gvozdyk, however, that enhanced his stock the most Saturday night.
The 2012 Olympic bronze medalist was undefeated entering his fight against Gonzalez (18-3, 14 KOs). There still were questions about how Gvozdyk would fare because Gonzalez can punch and had lost only a controversial unanimous decision to former light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal (31-4-1, 18 KOs, 1 NC) and a majority decision to then-undefeated Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (17-1, 14 KOs).
“He showed how he can control [a fight],” Klimas said. “He showed how smart he is in the ring and how strong he can punch. He showed all of that.”
Gvozdyk (13-0, 11 KOs) wants a title shot as soon as possible. Due to their friendship, he hopes he doesn’t have to fight Russia’s Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) if Kovalev can beat Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) in their light heavyweight championship rematch June 17 in Las Vegas.
Gvozdyk, who’ll turn 30 on Saturday, would prefer to challenge WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson (28-1, 23 KOs). Canada’s Stevenson is set to defend his title in a rematch with Polish contender Andrzej Fonfara (29-4, 17 KOs) on June 3.
“Stevenson ran from Kovalev,” said Klimas, who also manages Kovalev. “I hope he doesn’t run from Gvozdyk, too. We would like to get that fight. We are going to see.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.