Oleksandr Gvozdyk starts making case to regain belt as he takes on Isaac Rodrigues
Oleksandr Gvozdyk gives credit where credit is due.
Gvozdyk acknowledges Artur Beterbiev was the better man when they fought in October 2019. After a semi-retirement of several months, and feeling rejuvenated, Gvozdyk believes he can win a rematch against the hard-hitting Beterbiev.
The once-beaten Gvozdyk will, in the meantime, stay busy. Gvozdyk will face Isaac Rodrigues Saturday night on the Canelo-Charlo undercard at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The eight-round bout will stream live on the Showtime Boxing YouTube page (5:30 p.m. ET/ 2:30 p.m. PT).
Gvozdyk (19-1, 15 knockouts), who is originally from Kharkiv, Ukraine and now resides in Camarillo, California, last fought on May 7, stopping Ricards Bolotniks in the sixth round. The fight took place less than three months after Gvozdyk defeated journeyman Josue Obando by decision.
The 36-year-old is facing an opponent in Rodrigues (28-4, 22 KOs), who is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Richard Rivera in his last bout on February 10. The 38-year-old Rodrigues had won his previous three fights.
Gvozdyk is eager to get more rounds in on Saturday, and is confident he can win, either by knockout or decision.
“I loved fighting in Mexico and I fought a decent opponent in May,” Gvozdyk told The Ring Tuesday evening. “It was a great card, especially fighting after coming back from my retirement.
“As far as Rodrigues, we will play it by ear. I can go all eight rounds easily, but if I see the opportunity, I can win by knockout in the first round. I do want to continue getting rounds in, but I can finish my opponent, if that opportunity presents itself.”
Gvozdyk took time off from the sport after the loss to Beterbiev. Gvozdyk was ahead on two of the judges’ scorecards prior to the fight ending in the 10th round.
The sting of the loss to Beterbiev has diminished over the years, but Gvozdyk hopes for another opportunity to face the current unified world titleholder at 175 pounds.
“I was ahead on two judges’ scorecards,” said Gvozdyk, who is trained by Marcos Contreras. “If I had prepared the proper way, because I was not ready to face Beterbiev, when we fought. That is my excuse. The better man won. He’s a good fighter and a monster. I want to prove that I can overcome my mistakes, including condition wise.
“I don’t want to underestimate anyone, but I believe, when I’m at my potential, I could be that top guy. I would like to fight Beterbiev, (Dmitry) Bivol, and (Joshua) Buatsi. I’m open to fighting (world title) eliminators. I am a quality fighter.”
After losing the WBC world light heavyweight title to Beterbiev, Gvozdyk took time away from the sport. He was not officially retired from boxing, as he was still in the gym training.
During the pandemic, Gvozdyk received a phone call from representatives of Ring magazine super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez to spar in San Diego. Gvozdyk sparred frequently and was also able to train alongside Alvarez.
This Saturday, Alvarez will face Ring magazine junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo in Las Vegas. Gvozdyk did not give a prediction on who would win but spoke highly of Alvarez and his ability in the ring.
“When I first started training with Canelo, we would spar once in a while. Then we began sparring more regularly. It was indeed a learning experience for me. I learned a lot.
“What impressed me the most about him was that Canelo is a defensive genius. He hits hard. He may be a smaller fighter, but he finds a way to overwhelm you. He is able to neutralize your power and he moves well around the ring. He’s very smart.
“Working with Canelo, I’m always in my best shape and condition. It was a benefit for me to spar and train alongside him.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]