Thursday, May 23, 2024  |



Oleksandr Gvozdyk continues comeback vs. Ricards Bolotniks, Saturday

Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Photo by Mikey Williams / TOP RANK
Fighters Network

When Oleksandr Gvozdyk lost to Artur Beterbiev in their IBF/WBC light heavyweight unification bout in October 2019, he decided to retire from boxing.

The Ukrainian, who won the WBC title against long-reigning beltholder Adonis Stevenson (KO 11), in the fall of 2018, had made one successful defense before being stopped by Beterbiev (L TKO 10). He decided to become a businessman and opened a casino in his native country.

“I have my family. I have three kids; my wife was always against boxing and I thought I had a way to make my living without boxing,” Gvozdyk (18-1, 14 knockouts) told The Ring. “I started a business. It was kind of successful but then the war in Ukraine started; everything was screwed up.”

The now 36-year-old decided he’d give boxing another go and returned early this year against a late substitute.

“After sparring with Canelo [Alvarez] and [Gilberto] Ramirez, I feel I’m still in good shape and why not do it again?” he reasoned. “The fight was cancelled and then I didn’t expect the opponent like [Josue] Obando. I was looking at something more serious. I’m not knocking Obando; he’s a solid fighter but we both understand we’re on different levels.

“In this case, I had an option to either fight him or not fight at all. I was thinking, why not fight this kind of guy, just to feel the ring, the distance, to get back those feelings I’m supposed to have going in the ring.”

Now “The Nail” will face a more significant test when he meets the rugged Ricards Bolotniks on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez-John Ryder on Saturday at the Estadio Akron, Guadalajara, Mexico.

“It’s a good fight. It’s like my first real fight for me after my so-called retirement in 2019,” said the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist. “I’m very excited. I’m ready and in good shape.

“[Bolotniks] makes good pressure, had a good work rate. This is his key to victory. He is a guy that started boxing relatively late because he came from ice hockey. This is why I think he’s developing a lot. Really solid fighter, don’t look at his record; don’t look at his six defeats because, like I say, he’s still developing as a boxer and I expect a really tough challenge.”

Ricards Bolotniks. Photo courtesy of Matchroom Boxing

Ricards Bolotniks. Photo courtesy of Matchroom Boxing

Gvozdyk, who is being guided by Eddy Reynoso and trained by Marcos Contreras, in Los Angeles, appreciates that a victory will see him earn a ranking with the sanctioning bodies and, from there, he can potentially look to make another title run.

However he’s not getting carried away and is focused on the immediate future, which is Bolotniks.

“The target is to beat [Bolotniks] anyway. If it’s a decision, that’s OK. If it’s a stoppage, why not? It’s also good,” he said. “I’m not focused on stopping him. I just have to beat him in an impressive way. To get as less a damage as possible, that’s the goal.

“I want to fight top guys but, for now, my only target is Bolotniks. I take the rust off in my last fight but I don’t think it really counted because it wasn’t a challenge but this will be. Like a first real challenge. After this fight, we’ll figure out who to fight next.

“We know who the champions are today. Obviously they’re my target in the future.”

This fight should show us where Gvozdyk is and what he has left. Bolotniks will be aggressive and if Gvozdyk has lost a step, it could become a difficult evening. However if Gvozdyk is still close to his prime, he is more than capable of outboxing Bolotniks and getting a late stoppage.

Bolotniks (19-6-1, 8 KOs) turned professional in 2013. The Latvian had a difficult start to his pro career, losing his second, fourth and eighth fights, but improved on the job. He gave one-time prospect Micki Nielsen (L SD 8) a tough outing before losing to future cruiserweight title challenger Thabiso Mchunu (L TKO 6).

After realizing he was too small for the cruiserweight division, he returned with success at 175 pounds, taking the unbeaten scalps of Sergei Ekimov (UD 12) and Stephen Ward (TKO 1) before upsetting more fancied Hosea Burton (UD 10) and Serge Michel (TKO 10). That earned Bolotniks a big fight with Ring-rated Joshua Buatsi and, although he was stopped in round 11, he gave a good account of himself. The 33-year-old has since returned with a win over previously unbeaten Hrvoje Sep (UD 8).

Canelo-Ryder, plus supporting undercard, will be broadcast on DAZN Pay-Per-View beginning at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT.



Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.