By Keith Idec
When Teddy Atlas analyzed Oleksandr Gvozdyk’s bouts both before and after agreeing to work with him, the veteran trainer noticed that the light heavyweight contender too often made himself susceptible to getting caught clean.
Atlas worked hard during his first training camp with the unbeaten Ukrainian to tighten up his defense. They both know that they last thing they can afford when Gvozdyk challenges Adonis Stevenson on Saturday night is to allow a pulverizing puncher to land flush punches.
“There’s no margin for error with a guy that can punch like this,” Atlas told BoxingScene.com. “We are facing a guy who’s, at least in my estimation, the second-hardest puncher in boxing, behind Wilder, for one punch. Like I said, there isn’t a big margin for mistakes. But I believe in this kid’s character. I believe in the commitment that he had to do this. I couldn’t be happier or more satisfied with how he approached this whole thing.”
The 31-year-old Gvozdyk (15-0, 12 KOs), of Oxnard, California, is consistently listed as a slight favorite over Quebec’s Stevenson (29-1-1, 25 KOs) entering their 12-round fight for Stevenson’s WBC light heavyweight title at Videotron Centre in Quebec City. Gvozdyk is the mandatory challenger for Stevenson’s title.
Showtime will televise Stevenson-Gvozdyk live as part of a one-bout broadcast set to start at 7:45 p.m. ET/4:45 p.m. PT. The Stevenson-Gvozdyk telecast will lead directly into a four-fight Showtime Pay-Per-View broadcast that’ll feature WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) and former IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champ Tyson Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) in the main event ($74.99 in HD).
While studying Stevenson, Atlas didn’t notice any slippage in boxing’s longest-reigning champion. Because the 41-year-old Stevenson usually wins by knockout and typically doesn’t engage in physically grueling fights, Atlas doesn’t consider the preserved Stevenson as old as his birth certificate indicates.
“He’s still got his speed,” said Atlas, who replaced Marco Contreras as Gvozdyk’s trainer over the summer. “He’s still got his coordination. He’s got a good jab that’s a delivery system for that very powerful left hand. And then he’s pretty solid technically. He’s got what works for him. He’s got his style down that works for him, where he basically tries to control you with that jab and looks to set you up with that left hand upstairs and downstairs mostly. But he’s a little bit like [Wladimir] Klitschko used to be, where you’re looking for that right hand with the younger Klitschko, and then he would hit you with the left hook once in a while. And [Stevenson] could also catch you with the right hook, because he’s a southpaw.
“So he’s got all those things going for him. He’s got the power, he’s got the jab, pretty good technique, he’s doing it from the lefty stance, and he’s got very long arms. That’s something I don’t hear people talk about. On the broadcasts, I’m shocked that nobody says that. But he’s really long. I mean, God, so when you think you’re safe with someone else, there’s another four inches [of reach] where you’re not safe with him. So he’s got that going for him, too.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.