By: Robert Aaron Contreras
Recently, Tyson Fury’s out-of-competition shenanigans and in-ring disappointment seem to have ramped up the talk of “lineal championships.” But the only one actually on the line this week is the light heavyweight crown between Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KO) and Artur Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KO), set for Friday, Oct 18, on ESPN.
Currently it is Gvozdyk with the lineage in tow. He staked his claim over Adonis Stevenson at the end of 2018. The 32-year-old former Olympian not only travelled to Quebec, Canada but ate a bevy of monster shots from Stevenson late in the fight, to overwhelm the longstanding beltholder in the penultimate round.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
Gvozdyk’s encore in March 2019 was another knockout—technically anyway—coming to fruition over Doudou Ngumbu. Ngumbu, an unorthodox banger, provided the champion no real challenge but indeed an unorthodox finish, injuring his leg in the fifth-round of the title tilt. Alas, the Ukrainian puncher remains undefeated—unmatched, at the top of top-heavy division.
Beterbiev will look to unseat him. Two months following Gvozdyk’s first title defense, Beterbiev matched his counterpart, finishing his own challenger in five rounds, but in more resounding fashion. The Russian bashed Radivoje Kalajdzic, who is no less a dynamite puncher. In close quarters Beterbiev’s crunching blows seem to be unstoppable.
The finish was Beterbiev’s second successful defense of his IBF title. He earned the crown over Enrico Koelling, who represented Germany in the 2012 Olympics. In Round 12, it was an overhand, cross-counter that sat Koelling on the seat of his pants where he was counted out for the only KO loss of the German’s 29-fight career.
Of the talented quartet of 175-pound titleholders, Gvozdyk vs. Beterbiev is just the unification to make. If that was not true before last weekend, Dmitry Bivol’s apathetic effort against an unheralded opponent solidified the case. Sergey Kovalev’s tangling with a middleweight does nothing to refute the matter either.
When the two best fighters in the class are pitted against each other, the trinkets and alphabet belts can seem like a moot point. But belts are currency in the fistic world. Stevenson, it should be recalled, would never had come out of hiding to face Gvozdyk if not for the Ukrainian warrior picking up the interim WBC strap.
Gvozdyk did not squander the opportunity. Fully living up to the golden era of Ukrainian boxing at hand, teaming up alongside countryman and Olympic teammates Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk in their collective siege of the sport. Beterbiev would be the legion’s toughest scalp yet.
Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0, 9 KO) vs. Luis Collazo (39-7, 10 KO)
Abdukakhorov is a boxer-puncher supreme and has in the past faced opponents very dangerous but never has he met a mainstream name like Collazo.
Abdukakhorov, 26, is undefeated in his career after fighting out of the hotbed that is Uzbekistan. He has competed once this year, decisioning the spark plug fighter Keita Obara. The points win was his fourth decision victory in his last five contests—including a dominant performance over touted Russian upstart Dmitry Mikhaylenko. But while he has slowly built a fine ledger, it has not come at the ferocious pace by which he exterminated Charles Manyuchi in the first half of 2017.
The knockout was stunning, quickly taking apart Manyuchi, who is known for making opponents miss, look silly, and unable to mount significant offense. But Abdukakhorov is something special.
As it turned out, it was a one-off, equal parts accurate punching and mental lapses from Manyuchi. It remains only his second TKO since graduating to the 12-round distance and the uptick in competition that comes with that. He is simply more of a tactical fighter. Especially considering his patient attack against Obara.
Collazo prefers the walloping brand of punching, overpowering the recognizable brawler Samuel Vargas earlier this year. The win extended the experienced New York native to three consecutive wins. A middling record made up the majority of his career since losing his world title to Ricky Hatton ages ago. Collazo dropped three more fights, two of which were championship bouts.
And coming off a punishing defeat to Keith Thurman, the stage seemed set for another loss to promotional favorite Sammy Vazquez. But Collazo would have none of it, overcoming two-to-one odds, and kickstarting his current win streak and unbelievably, at 38 years old, forcing his way into the title picture.
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of August 13th to August 20th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Unbeaten Champions Beterbiev and Gvozdyk Set to Unify Titles October 18th in Philadelphia
Two very bad men are set for an old-fashioned Philadelphia throwdown.
WBC light heavyweight world champion Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk and IBF light heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev will fight in a highly anticipated title unification bout Friday, Oct. 18 at the Liacouras Center.
Beterbiev and Gvozdyk enter this can’t-miss clash with a combined record of 31-0 with 28 knockouts.
Gvozdyk-Beterbiev will headline a special edition of Top Rank on ESPN beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
The undercard will stream live on ESPN+ — the industry-leading sports streaming service — beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Peltz Boxing, tickets priced at $150, $90, $75 and $50 (not including applicable fees) go on sale Friday, Aug. 23 at 12 p.m. ET and can be purchased at the Liacouras Center Box Office, www.liacourascenter.com or charge by phone at 800-298-4200.
“This could very well be the fight of the year,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “These are two evenly matched, undefeated light heavyweight champions. There is nothing better in the sport of boxing.”
“My first goal was to win a light heavyweight world title. Now, I want to unify the belts, and that mission starts with Artur Beterbiev,” Gvozdyk said. “This is going to be a spectacular fight, one that the fans will enjoy. The fans asked for this fight, and we will deliver. One thing I know is that I will be the unified champion. I have the best trainer, Teddy Atlas, in my corner. This is our third fight together, and under his guidance, I will continue to get better.”
“I wish to thank Top Rank and my opponent, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, for making this unification bout possible and giving the fans around the world what they want,” Beterbiev said. “This will be a great fight between the two champions who aspire to become the undisputed light heavyweight world champion. I am looking forward to stepping into the ring on October 18.”
Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs) will be making the second defense of the title he won from longtime champion Adonis Stevenson in a come-from-behind 11th-round KO last December in Quebec City, Canada. He followed up the Stevenson win with a dominant fifth-round TKO March 30 over Doudou Ngumbu in Philadelphia, where a large Ukrainian contingent showed up to cheer on their countryman. Gvozdyk captured a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, where he was teammates with current professional stablemate and pound-for-pound great Vasiliy Lomachenko. A five-year pro, Gvozdyk climbed the ranks with victories over established veterans like Isaac Chilemba, Yunieski Gonzalez and Nadjib Mohammedi.
Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs), a former Russian amateur star, has a come-forward, take-no-prisoners ring approach that has made him the only current world champion with a 100 percent KO ratio. He won the vacant IBF world title with a 12th-round TKO over Enrico Koelling, preserving his perfect KO record by stopping Koelling with 27 seconds left in the bout. His two title defenses have lasted a total of nine rounds, and most recently, he walked through longtime contender Radivoje “Hot Rod“ Kalajdzic in five rounds in the main event of the May 4 Top Rank on ESPN telecast.
Amir Imam Signs with Top Rank
Amir Imam, a former super lightweight world challenger known for his explosive knockouts, has signed a multi-year promotional agreement with Top Rank.
Imam (21-2, 18 KOs) has been out of the ring since March 17, 2018, the evening he challenged Jose Ramirez for the vacant WBC super lightweight world title. He lost via unanimous decision in a brutal toe-to-toe battle to Ramirez, who is currently the unified WBC/WBO 140-pound world champion.
Imam will campaign at either super lightweight or welterweight, and he recently enlisted the services of South Florida-based manager Peter Kahn. He is expected to make his long-awaited ring return later this year.
“I am grateful to have joined the best promotional company in boxing. I have learned a lot from my past fights and have made positive changes that will allow me to succeed as I move forward to my goal of becoming a world champion,” Imam said. “I’m eager to get back into the ring before the end of the year and showcase my skills as part of the Top Rank team. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for me.”
“Amir Imam is a naturally gifted fighter who can best be defined as potential unrealized to this point in his career,” Kahn said. “He has the physical and mental tools to be a world champion. He’s a perfect fit for Top Rank. Whether Amir continues to campaign at super lightweight or welterweight remains to be seen, but the fans will see a rejuvenated, well-prepared Amir who is on a mission to be a world champion.”
Imam, from Albany, New York, knocked out 12 out of his first 13 opponents in the paid ranks, and won an eight-round unanimous decision in 2014 over Yordenis Ugas, who is currently one of the welterweight division’s top contenders. He scored highlight-reel knockouts over Jason Robinson and Fidel Maldonado before being stopped in shocking fashion by Adrian Granados in 2015. Imam rebounded with three consecutive knockout wins before locking horns with Ramirez in a memorable clash at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Carlos Takam Signs with Star Boxing
Star Boxing is excited to officially announce the signing of distinguished heavyweight title contender CARLOS TAKAM (36-5-1 28KO’s) of France, by way of Douala, Cameroon. Standing at 6’3″, the heavy handed, Takam has taken on some of the best in the business, in the heavyweight division. Star Boxing revealed the signing last week on its social media platforms.
Takam was an amateur standout in Cameroon. In 2003, he competed in the All-African Games in Nigeria, finishing with a bronze medal. In 2004, Takam qualified for the Athens, Greece Summer Olympics by earning Gold at the AIBA African Olympic Qualifying tournament in Morocco. Later that year, representing his native country of Cameroon, Takam fought in the Summer Olympic games in Athens, Greece, making it to the sweet sixteen.
Turning pro in 2005, just one year after the Olympics, Takam was an immediate force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division. After securing a record of 23-1 with 18KO’s, Takam defeated GBENGA OLUOKUN (then 18-5 12KO’s) by TKO to earn his first professional title, becoming the WBO International African Heavyweight Champion. Since then, Takam has held multiple titles, including the WBC Silver World Championship, the IBF Intercontinental Championship, and the WBF World Championship.
From 2011 on, Takam fought a gruesome list of boxing’s best heavyweights which include, heavyweight world title challengers, FRANS BOTHA (then 48-6-3 29KO’S), MICHAEL GRANT (then 48-7 36KO’S), TONY THOMPSON (then 39-4 27KO’s), JOSEPH PARKER (Then 18-0 16KO’s), DERECK CHISORA (then 28-8 21KO’s) as well as former world champion, ALEXANDER POVETKIN (then 27-1 20KO’s). In 2017, Takam challenged ANTHONY JOSHUA (19-0 19KO’s) in the biggest, bout of his career, for the WBA, IBF and IBO World Heavyweight Titles.
In Takam’s last bout in December 2018, he defeated German prospect, SENAD GASHI (then 17-1 17KO’s) who was favored in the bout. Gashi was a 5x Saarland Champion, 2x Gold International Boxing champion, 2x Gold German Open champion, amongst many other accolades in the amateurs. The bout took place at the 02 Arena in London, ending in a seventh round TKO victory for Takam.
Takam said this about signing with Star Boxing, “I’m very happy to sign with Joe and Star Boxing. It’s almost one year now I’m free agent. I didn’t sign with any promoter. I have had several propositions on the table, but with Joe [DeGuardia], the way I see, I have good feeling that we can achieve my potential together. I have big ambition in boxing for these coming years. Because I was taking my time looking around before to make any decision. I am ready to do the job.”
Manager of Carlos Takam, DWIGHT YARDE, had this to say about the opportunities that are ahead for Team Takam with Star Boxing, “Exciting times in the heavyweight division! I have known Joe [DeGuardia] for some 20 years and truly believe he is the man to take Team Takam to the heavyweight title. With Carlos’ ability as a fighter, nothing can stop us now. Heavyweight division watch out – we are coming.”
Star Boxing CEO, JOE DEGUARDIA said this about the signing of Takam, “Carlos is a world class heavyweight who has faced some of the best in the division. Throughout boxing history, the heavyweight division has always cultivated the most buzz, and that buzz is back.” DeGuardia continued, “I think highly of Carlos. The hard-core boxing experts know how good he is, but now he will show the casual fans and will surprise many as to how good he can still be. We are really excited to bring some big things to the table for him, and are confident that a heavyweight championship of the world bout is in his future.”
Kovalev-Yarde Headlines Special Afternoon of Boxing on ESPN+
WBO light heavyweight champion and future Hall of Famer Sergey Kovalev will face off against his hard-hitting mandatory challenger, Anthony Yarde, in a highly anticipated showdown Saturday, Aug. 24 from Traktor Arena in Kovalev’s hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia.
Kovalev-Yarde will stream live and exclusively in the United States on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT. The stream will also showcase the co-feature bout between unbeaten cruiserweight contender Aleksei Papin (11-0, 10 KOs) and former world title challenger Ilunga Makabu (25-2, 24 KOs). Fans in the U.S. can sign up at www.ESPNplus.com or on the ESPN App.
“I am thrilled to fight for the first time in my hometown of Chelyabinsk,” Kovalev said. “It is a dream to defend my WBO title in front of all my friends and family back home. I am also thankful ESPN+ will show the fight to my fans in the U.S. Thank you to Igor Altushkin, Egis Klimas, Main Events and Top Rank for making this dream a reality, and thank you to Anthony Yarde for agreeing to fight in my home.”
“Sergey has done just about everything a professional fighter can do, other than fight in his own hometown,” said promoter Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. “One of the sport’s greatest road warriors, Sergey will finally get the chance to salute his legion of fans in Chelyabinsk, where he grew up. It will be an exciting, long overdue homecoming for Sergey. And I am so happy to confirm that Sergey’s many fans in the U.S. will be able to watch this great event only on ESPN+. I wish to thank Igor Altushkin, German Titov and everyone at RCC for making this all possible. I also wish to thank Bob Arum and Top Rank for their continued support.”
Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) is a veteran of 15 world title bouts and has won the light heavyweight world title on three occasions. A former unified champion, he revived his career in February by scoring a wide points win over Eleider Alvarez, the man who’d knocked him out less than six months prior. One of this generation’s most decorated champions, Kovalev holds victories over Jean Pascal, Nathan Cleverly and living legend Bernard Hopkins. In Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs), he faces a London native with a giant hand who is taking a giant step up in competition. Yarde has won his last 16 bouts by knockout, most recently stopping Travis Reeves in five rounds in a bout that streamed on ESPN+. This will be only his second pro bout outside of England.
Roy Jones Junior Boxing Announces Deal with Eldorado Group to Co-Promote Multiple Installments on UFC Fight Pass
Roy Jones Jr. (RJJ) Boxing Promotions has reached an exclusive agreement with Eldorado Group to co-promote multiple installments of “RJJ Boxing on UFC FIGHT PASS®,” commencing October 25 with Joey Gilbert Promotions in Reno, Nevada.
The Oct. 25th show in Reno will be streamed live and exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS, the world’s leading digital subscription service for combat sports, starting at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT, from a venue to be determined.
“Everyone has seen all the excitement the Eldorado Group has going on,” RJJ Boxing CEO and Co-Founder Keith Veltre said. “Signing a deal of this magnitude is sending a strong message to the public that Eldorado Group wants to deliver the best in combat sports to its customers. Adding Joey Gilbert as a co-promoter only adds to the growing excitement RJJ Boxing Promotions has in the store for the future. Joey is a massive asset to what we are doing. Roy and I are super happy that he’s part of the team.”
In addition to being a combat sports promoter, Gilbert is a criminal defense and personal injury lawyer in Reno, as well as a sports agent and motivational speaker. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Nevada, where he was an outstanding amateur boxer, double majoring in English Literature and Political Science, and he went on to graduate from Thomas Jefferson Law School in San Diego.
Now retired as a boxer, Gilbert fought professionally from 2000-2010, compiling a 20-3 (15 KOs) record. He gained tremendous exposure participating in popular reality television series, The Contender, Season One.
“I am thrilled to bring professional boxing back to Reno,” CEO Joey Gilbert commented. “Reno has always been a fight town. I benefitted from this as both an amateur and professional fighter. I am beyond delighted to be involved in this endeavor with Roy Jones, Jr., who I have always held in such high regard, and looked up to as a fighter.
“I have been thoroughly impressed with the RJJ Boxing executive team and CEO Keith Veltre, who certainly produces one of the highest-quality and exciting boxing shows that I have ever seen. Together with UFC FIGHT PASS, we will absolutely impress and exceed expectations of all local fight fans, and The Row will be hosting this exciting opportunity. This will be one of many new fighting opportunities for our community to enjoy. I am excited that Eldorado Resorts International threw its proverbial hat in the ring to support this program. It’s safe to say that I can see this being the first fight series of many across numerous El Dorado International properties in the United States.”
The fight card will be announced at a future date.
By: Sean Crose
ESPN’s boxing broadcast from Philly on Saturday opened with the 24-3 Ray Robinson facing the 21-0 Egidijus Kavaliauskas in a scheduled 10 round welterweight affair. Lithuania’s Kavaliauskas stalked his man throughout the first two rounds. The next two rounds showcased more of the same, with Kavaliauskas landing with a degree of effect.
The middle rounds saw Robinson picking up the pace a bit. The problem for Robinson was that his opponent hit harder and was able to cut off the ring with some success. The second half of the fight was engaged closer to the center of the ring than the first half. Still, both fighters were cautious, something that was noted (without pleasure) by ESPNs broadcast team. By the last round, Robinson was able to effectively flick his jab, and actually displayed a bit of aggressiveness.
The fight was ruled a majority draw.
Soon it was time for the main event. The last time the world had seen Oleksandr Gvozdyk, the 16-0 fighter had taken the crown from longstanding WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson by beating the aging titlist into what would eventually become a coma. Still in the shadow of that tragic event, the Teddy Atlas protege slipped between the ropes to face the 38-8 Doudou Ngumbo.
Gvozdyk appeared to be the significantly bigger man right from the opening bell. Gvozdyk patiently worked his way through the 1st, while the awkward Ngumbo found his moments. The 2nd round was interesting, with Gvozdyk trying to work the body. The 3d was fairly close, with Ngumbo throwing off the champion’s timing. Ngumbo began to showboat at the end of the 4th. One could be forgiven for feeling the man might have started to dominate, should he have thrown more punches.
The fight was abruptly halted in the fifth, when Ngumbu seemed to hurt his leg with no help from the champion. Oddly enough, the fighter was given five minutes to recover…but the bout was officially stopped after a few minutes, regardless. Gvozdyk was given a TKO victory as the result of a very strange turn of events.
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Oleksandr Gvozdyk will defend his WBC Light Heavyweight Title against Doudou Ngumbu in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN telecast.
This bout will air live on ESPN from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The co-main event will be between Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Ray Robinson in the welterweight division. The winner of this bout could have bigger bouts on the horizon against either Amir Khan or Terence Crawford.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
The undercard will feature fighters such as Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, Frederick Lawson, Jose Lopez, Christian Mbilli, and Cassius Chaney.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the night.
We officially have a new Light Heavyweight champion as Oleksandr Gvozdyk (16-0, 13 KOs) knocked out long reigning WBC champion Adonis Stevenson (29-2, 24 KOs) in the 11th round of their bout tonight.
It was an impressive display by Gvozdyk as he was able to box well from the outside while creating angles that made it difficult for Stevenson to land his signature left hand. Although Gvozdyk boxed very well early on, Stevenson still managed to find plenty of success.
In round two Stevenson began to find a home for his power punches. Although they did not necessarily hurt Gvozdyk they did grab his attention. Round three saw Stevenson hit the deck from a right hand from Gvozdyk but luckily for him the referee ruled it a slip.
For much of the fight it was a nip and tuck affair as both men had their moments and boxed well.
The later rounds were where things really heated up. In round 10 Stevenson landed a huge left hand upstairs that nearly knocked Gvozdyk to the canvas. The ropes were the only reason why Gvozdyk was not looking up at the lights. For much of the round Stevenson continued to headhunt. Give credit to Gvozdyk as he was able to weather the storm and make it out of the round.
The momentum seemed to be squarely behind Stevenson but in round 11 everything changed. Gvozdyk came out on fire landing a combination of shots that had Stevenson reeling. He tried his best to survive the onslaught but several more shots sent the champion to the canvas and the referee waved it off.
Adonis Stevenson reign as champion is officially over. Sure he was a belt holder for over five years but he never seemed to be interested in fighting top fighters or taking on the other champions.
With Gvozdyk now in the mix the division gets even more interesting. Tantalizing matchups against the divisions other champions in Dmitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev are fascinating to think about. Bouts against contenders such as Badou Jack and Joe Smith Jr also bring plenty of intrigue. Bottom line is the Light Heavyweight division has a new champion.
Based off of the performance he put on tonight he could turn out to be a nightmare for just about anyone.
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Top Rank Promotions will continue their relationship with ESPN by broadcasting a junior welterweight unification bout between one of their top stars, Terence Crawford, taking on fellow junior welterweight title holder Julius Indongo. This bout will take place at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Another bout to be televised will be in the light heavyweight division and will be between Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Craig Baker. The undercard will feature many familiar names, including Mike Alvarado, Bryant Jennings, Dillian Whyte, Shakur Stevenson, and Nicholas Walters. Don’t be surprised if some of these names make their way to the main broadcast.
The following is a preview of both televised bouts.
Oleksandr Gvozdyk (13-0) vs. Craig Baker (17-1); Light Heavyweights
Oleksandr Gvozdyk is another Ukranian prospect with a high ceiling and a deep amateur background, though he doesn’t have the amateur accolades of fellow Ukranian Vasyl Lomachenko.
Gvozdyk won the bronze medal for the Ukraine in the 2012 Summer Olympics. He also competed in the World Series of Boxing before turning pro and was undefeated there. He’s thirty years old and three years younger than his opponent, Craig baker. Gvozdyk also stands at 6’2” and has a long reach of 76”.
Baker competed in the 2008 US National Amateur Championships and the 2008 National Golden Gloves but did not place. His amateur background pales in comparison to Gvozdyk.
Gvozdyk turned pro in 2014 and already has an impressive list of defeated opponents. He has defeated the likes of Nadjib Mohammedi, Tommy Karpency, Isaac Chilemba, and Yunieski Gonzalez. He’s currently riding a seven fight stoppage streak.
Baker’s only notable victory was against Umberto Savigne. The one time he took a step up in competition he got knocked out by Edwin Rodriguez. Fourteen of his seventeen wins have come against opponents with records of .500 or worse.
Gvozdyk has the edge in speed, defense, amateur background, and even power. Baker has thirteen knockouts in comparison to Gvozdyk’s eleven stoppages, but Baker’s stoppage victories have come against subpar competition.
It’s doubtful this fight will be competitive. Gvozdyk should won handedly.
Terence Crawford (31-0) vs. Julius Indongo (22-0); WBO/WBC/IBF and WBA Junior Welterweight Titles
It’s rare to see all four major world titles up for grabs in one unification bout, but this anomaly will occur on Saturday night and should be applauded.
Both boxers are undefeated but Crawford is the heavy favorite.
Crawford will be giving up about two and a half inches in height and one and a half inches in reach. However, Crawford is five years younger than Indongo and appears to be the quicker boxer with the harder punch.
Crawford has twenty two stoppages on his resume and five of his past six fights resulted in a stoppage victory. Indongo only has eleven stoppage wins, but three of his past four fights resulted in a KO/TKO.
Crawford has been fairly busy recently. He fought once in 2017 and three times in 2016. Indongo has matched his activity and also fought three times in 2016 and once in 2017.
Crawford’s list of defeated opponents shows he is deserving of his pound for pound ranking. He has defeated the likes of Felix Diaz, John Molina Jr., Viktor Postol, Henry Lundy, Dierry Jean, Thomas Dulorme, Raymundo Beltran, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Ricky Burns, and Andrey Klimov.
Indongo fought mainly in Africa early on in his career and has not faced the level of opposition that Crawford has faced. He has recently defeated the likes of Ricky Burns and Eduard Troyanovsky, but has not defeated any notable opponents before those wins.
The one edge that Indongo might arguably have is amateur experience. He competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics and Crawford failed to make the Olympic team of the United States. However, Crawford is a former National PAL Champion.
Indongo’s height and reach may give Crawford some issues early on. He was able to surprise many when he defeated Eduard Troyanovsky and he had little problems defeating Ricky Burns. However, Terence Crawford is an elite level boxer and he has enough experience to solve the height and reach of Indongo.
Crawford should win by a comfortable decision.
The Ukrainian Connection of Lomachenko, Usyk and Gvozdyk!
By: Ken Hissner
This writer recently was talking to PA HOF trainer Fred “Herk” Jenkins outside of the 26th and Masters Recreation Gym in North Philadelphia. “I can’t believe there were three Ukrainian boxers shown on HBO,” said Jenkins. His boxer the USBA champion Jesse “Hard Work” Hart, 22-0 (18), was on the off HBO telecast’s undercard. Hart is the No. 1 WBO super middleweight contender.
This was on the April 8th Oxen Hill, MD, show. I told Jenkins “the Ukrainian fans were out in full cheering on their boxers. They not only had three boxers over HBO but on the undercard Egidijus Kavaliauskas, 16-0 (13), from Lithuania, who are all managed by Egis Klimas, the 2016 “Manager of the Year”. He also has the Russian Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, 30-1-1 (26), the former 3 belt light heavyweight champion and Ukrainian heavyweight Vyacheslav Glazkov, 21-1-1 (13). He manages 15 boxers including the April 8th main event super WBO featherweight champion Vasyl “High-Tech” Lomachenko, 8-1 (6), one of if not the best P4P boxers in the world and former 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist.
Jenkins has trained Olympic Gold Medalist David Reid who held the WBA super welterweight title, two-time heavyweight challenger Bryant “Bye Bye” Jennings, “Rockin” Rodney Moore, IBF champion Charlie “Choo Choo” Brown, Malik Scott, Tyrone Brunson, Zahir Raheem, Anthony “The Messenger” Thompson and many others. He needs to understand the European, Ukrainian and Russian boxers are hungry like the Americans were in the 40’s and 50’s.
“The Ukrainian Connection” is just something the Americans should accept and appreciate. They have many fans and are good for boxing!
HBO World Championship Boxing Results: Lomachenko Dazzles, Usyk and Gvozdyk Victorious
By: William Holmes
The Theater at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland was the host site for tonight’s HBO World Championship Boxing card featuring three Ukrainians in the televised portion of the card.
This fight was sold out with an announced attendance of 2,828.
The venue is a new one for boxing and there doesn’t look like there’s a single bad seat in the house and the casino, which opened in December, looked exquisite.
The undercard featured several young victorious high level prospects such as Michael Reed, Patrick Harris, and Jesse Hart.
The opening bout of the HBO televised card was between 2012 US Olympian Mike Hunter (12-0) and 2012 Ukrainian Olympic Gold Medalist Aleksandr Usyk (11-0) for the WBO Cruiserweight Championship.
Usyk, as the other Ukrainian boxers, had a very large and vocal contingent in attendance.
Hunter took the center of the ring and Usyk jabbed from the outside in the opening round. Usyk’s first big punches of the night were some straight left hands in the first round, but Hunter’s jabs kept it close and it could have been scored for either boxer.
Hunter had a good second round and was the more active of the two boxers, but Usyk was taking the punches of Hunter well. Usyk pressed forward in the third round and he had the head of Hunter snapping backwards with a lot of his punches that landed in the fourth.
The fifth and sixth rounds were clear rounds for Usyk as he appeared to be wearing Hunter down and landed several hard, clean, combinations that get the crowd to its feet and whistling.
Usyk connected at a high percentage in the seventh round and had Hunter back pedaling. Usyk landed some heavy blows in the eighth round and looked like he was close to sending Hunter to the mat.
Hunter tried to go punch for punch with Usyk several times in the ninth and tenth rounds, but he didn’t have the power nor the accuracy of the Ukrainian boxer.
Hunter was fighting well, but likely needed a knockout in the final two rounds to pull out the victory, but he didn’t fight like he needed a stoppage and seemed content with throwing his jab while never really going for the knockout blow.
Instead it was Usyk who had Hunter staggered and wobbly by the ropes in the final round as he went for the stoppage. Usyk was able to score a knockdown in the final round and he followed it up with a furious rally in an attempt to stop the bout. Hunter somehow stayed on his feet and threw just enough punches to keep the referee from stopping the bout.
Aleksandr Usyk wins the decision with scores of 117-110 on all three scorecards.
The next bout of the night was between Yuniesky Gonzalez (18-2) and Oleksandr Gvozdyk (12-0) in the light heavyweight division.
Gvozdyk and Gonzalez felt each other out by exchanging jabs in the first round and both boxers landed some punches, but Gvozdyk was landing more combinations while Gonzalez was looking for the knockout punch.
Gonzalez spent most of the second round chasing Gvozdyk around the ring while Gvozdyk landed some eye opening combinations.
Gonzalez opened up the third round by throwing everything into his punches but was very wild. Gvozdyk stayed patient and landed short straight right hands that had Gonzalez hurt and followed it up with a combination that sent him to one knee. Gonzalez was able to get back to his feet and ate several hard combinations from Gvozdyk. Gonzalez eventually succumbed to the pressure of Gvozdyk and was sent crashing to the mat.
Gonzalez’s corner jumped up to the ring apron and stopped the bout. Oleksandr Gvozdyk wins by an impressive TKO at 2:59 of the third round.
The main event was between pound for pound superstar Vasyl Lomachenko (7-1) and Jason Sosa (20-1-4) for the WBO Super Featherweight World Championship.
Lomachenko’s legion of supporters greatly outnumbered the fans of Sosa in attendance.
Lomachenko and Sosa fought a near even first round with both boxer showing good head movement and angles.
Sosa did well in the second round and Lomachenko had to complain to the referee about a possible low blow and a head butt. Lomachenko ended the second round strong with a flurry and may have stolen it with that flurry.
Lomachenko showed off his fancy footwork in the third round but Sosa was landing and throwing some good punches of his own.
Lomachenko had a very good fourth round and was landing some incredible combinations from unique angles. He also had Sosa hurt with a hard straight left hand.
By the fifth round Lomachenko was landing his punches at will and they were coming in lightning quick. Lomachenko was toying with Sosa in the sixth round and landed several good body blows.
Sosa, despite his best efforts, couldn’t find his target in the seventh round as the reflexes of Lomachenko just appeared to be too much for him.
Lomachenko battered Sosa in the eighth round and looked close to knocking him down when Sosa’s back was against the ropes. Sosa though showed incredible heart and grit and was able to survive the unbelievably accurate combinations of Lomachenko.
Sosa attempted to bait Lomachenko in the ninth round by willingly eating some combinations and unleashing an occasional bomb, but he was unable to land any punches.
Sosa, who had taken a beating the entire fight except for the opening round, looked like a beaten down man at the end of the ninth round. He would not come out for the tenth round.
Vasyl Lomachenko wins by TKO at the end of the eighth round.
Undercard Quick Results:
Egidijus Kavaliauskas (16-0) defeated Ramses Agaton (17-3-3) by knockout at 2:58 of the fourth round in the welterweight division.
Patrick Harris (11-0) defeated Omar Garcia (6-7) by decision with scores of 80-72 on all three scorecards in the super lightweight division.
Jesse Hart (22-0) defeated Alan Campa (16-3) by TKO at 0:44 of the fifth round in the super middleweight division.
Michael Reed (22-0) defeated Reyes Sanchez (26-10-2) by decision with scores of 99-91 on all three scorecards in the super lightweight division.
HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Lomachenko vs. Sosa, Gvozdyk vs. Gonzalez, Usyk vs. Hunter
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night in Oxon Hill, Maryland the Theater at the MGM National Harbor will be the host site for the next installment of HBO World Championships Boxing.
Three bouts will be televised, including a junior lightweight title fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Jason Sosa in the main event of the night, a light heavyweight fight between Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Yuniesky Gonzalez, and a cruiserweight title fight between Aleksandr Usyk and Mike Hunter.
The non-televised undercard will feature boxers such as Mike Reed, Patrick Harris, and Jesse Hart.
The following is a preview of the three televised bouts.
Oleksandr Gvozdyk (12-0) vs. Yunieski Gonzalez (18-2); Light Heavyweight
The opening bout of the night will be between Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Yunieski Gonzalez in the light heavyweight division.
Both boxers have deep amateur backgrounds. Gonzalez was a member of the Cuban Amateur Team and had a record of 345-27. Gvozdyk represented the Ukraine in the 2012 Summer Olympics and won the bronze medal.
Gvozdyk has never tasted defeat and will be about three inches taller than Gonzalez. Gvozdyk has also been incredibly active the past two years and four times in 2016 and four times in 2015. Gonzalez fought twice in 2016 and three times in 2015.
Gvozdyk has never tasted defeat and stopped ten of his opponents and currently has six straight stoppage wins. Gonzalez lost twice and went 2-2 in his past four fights.
Gvozdyk has already beaten the likes of Isaac Chilemba, Tommy Karpency, and Nadjib Mohammedi. Gonzalez doesn’t have the resume of Gvozdyk and has beaten the likes of Maxwell Amponsah and Jackson Junior. His losses were to jean pascal and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy.
Gonzalez is a good test for Gvozdyk and this is a rare fight where we see two notable international amateur stars face off in the ring early before their twentieth professional fight. But Gvozdyk is the better skilled boxer and has the bigger wins, he should emerge victorious.
Oleksandr Usyk (11-0) vs. Michael Hunter (12-0); WBO Cruiserweight Title
Oleksandr Usyk is one of the Ukraine’s most prized prospects and he will be stepping into the ring with a former United States Olympian.
Both boxers are undefeated in their professional careers. Usyk has stopped ten of his opponents and Hunter has stopped eight. Usyk will have a slight one inch height advantage but Hunter will have an inch and a half reach advantage.
Both boxers have deep amateur backgrounds, but Usyk experienced a lot of success on the international stage while Hunter experienced success on the national stage. Hunter is a former US National Amateur Champion and represented the United States in the 2012 Summer Olympics but failed to medal. Usyk was a gold medalist in the 2012 Olympic games.
Usyk has defeated the likes of Thabiso Mchunu, Krzystzof Glowacki, and Pedro Rodriguez. Surprisingly, all of his wins thus far in his career have come against opponents with winning records.
Hunter has yet to face any significant opposition and has defeated the likes of Isiah Thomas and Phil Williams.
This should be an easy win for Usyk, despite the fact his opponent has a good amateur background.
Vasyl Lomachenko (7-1) vs. Jason Sosa (20-1-4); WBO Junior Lightweight Title
Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko is considered by many to be one of the best, if not the best, pound for pound boxer in the world. He fought for a world title in only his second professional fight and is a two time Olympic Gold Medalist and a two time World Amateur Champion.
His opponent, Jason Sosa, has more of a Rocky upbringing in the sport of boxing than Lomachenko. Sosa has no notable amateur achievements on the international stage and was born and raised in poverty stricken Camden, New Jersey. He won a world title with an upset stoppage victory over then WBA Super Featherweight World Champion Javier Fortuna and is now in the biggest fight of his life.
Lomachenko will have about a one inch height advantage on Sosa but will be giving up about an inch and a half in reach. Lomachenko’s lone loss was a disputed split decision loss to an overweight Orlando Salido early on in his career. He has since destroyed every other opponent he has faced.
He has already defeated the likes of Nicholas Walters, Roman Martinez, Suriya Tatakhun, Gary Russell Jr., and Jose Ramirez before he even competed in his tenth professional fight. Lomachenko has stopped five of his opponents.
Sosa has fifteen knockouts to his credit and one stoppage loss. His lone loss was to Tre’Sean Wiggins in 2010, early on in Sosa’s career. He has defeated the likes of Javier Fortuna, Stephen Smith, Jerry Belmontes, Michael Brooks, and Angel Ocasio. Sosa did have a disputed draw with Nicholas Walters, but many felt he lost that fight.
Jason Sosa is a good gritty boxer that consistently puts on entertaining bouts. He has the heart of a champion, but Lomachenko is on a different level than Sosa and that should be immediately apparent.
It’s hard to envision a scenario where Sosa gives Lomachenko problems and this should be a relatively easy bout for Lomachenko.
HBO PPV Undercard Results: Curtis Stevens and Oleksandr Gvozdyk Emerge Victorious, and Hooker Draws with Perez
By: William Holmes
The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada was the host site for tonight’s HBO PPV card featuring a main event betweenSergey Kovalev and Andre Ward for the Light Heavyweight Championship.
Three bouts were featured on the undercard, and the opening bout was between Curtis Stevens (28-5) and James De La Rosa (23-4) in the middleweight division.
De La Rosa was rocked by a rising left hook from Stevens in the first round and he was on the defensive for most of the opening round. Stevens was able to land a left hook that knocked De La Rosa in the last thirty seconds of the round, but De La Rosa was able to get back to his feet.
De La Rosa had a cut by his left eye in the second round and took heavy shots to the body. However, he was able to start to land his jab in the last minute of the round.
Both fighters let it all fly in the third round and both landed several hard combinations. Stevens got the better of De La Rosa and landed the stronger shots, but he may have spent all of his energy.
De La Rosa began to relay on his jab in the fourth round and was able to keep Stevens at bay, and that jab continued to be successful for De La Rosa in the fifth and sixth rounds and even had Stevens trapped in a corner at multiple points.
De La Rosa looked like the fresher fighter in the seventh round and Stevens was short with most of his punches. Stevens crowded v in the eighth and was able to land some heavy hooks to the body, but he was deducted a point by the referee for landing a low blow.
The announcers felt Stevens may have hurt his left hand in the ninth round since he wasn’t throwing his patented left hook counter like he usually does. The HBO cameras were able to capture Stevens telling his trainer he hurt his left hand in the fourth round
Stevens pressed the action in the final round and landed some heavy shots over the top of De La Rosa’s guard which reopened the cut of De La Rosa, but it was De La Rosa who was raising his hands in the air at the final bell as if he won the fight.
The final scores were 98-90, 96-92, and 96-92 for Curtis Stevens.
The next bout of the night was in the light heavyweight division between Isaac Chilemba (24-4-2) and Oleksandr Gvozdyk (11-0).
Both boxers fought out of an orthodox stance and Gvozdyk was backing Chilemba up early with his contant jab. Chilema was able to land his check left hook near the end of the round, but it could have been scored either way.
Chilemba was missing with his hooks in the second round while Gvozdyk was finding a home for his right cross. Gvozdyk was landing at a higher clip than Chilemba in the third round, and he had Chilemba covering up in a defensive shell with his back against the ropes while Gvozdyk unleashed several combinations on him.
Chilemba had a strong fifth round and was able to land some short uppercuts on the inside, but Gvozdyk took back over in the sixth round and looked like he was wearing his opponent down.
Gvozdyk outworked Chilemba in the seventh round and Roy Jones Jr. threatened to stop the fight if he didn’t pick up the action in the eighth round. Chilemba was able to catch Gvozdyk by surprise in the opening thirty seconds of the eighth round, but Gvozdyk took back over in the final minute and had Chilemba’s nose bleeding badly.
Chilemba told his trainer, Roy Jones Jr., before the start of the ninth round that he was done and couldn’t fight anymore, and Jones told the referee the fight was over. Chilemba believed his right hand was broken.
Oleksandr Gvozdyk wins by TKO at the end of the eighth round.
The final fight on the undercard was between Maurice Hooker (21-0-2) and Darleys Perez (33-2-1) in the junior welterweight division.
Hooker was a lot taller than Perez and used it to his advantage by keeping a jab in the face of Perez in the opening round. However, Perez looked comfortable with Hooker’s power in the second round and was able to catch Hooker by surprise with some well timed hooks, and he had him hurt in the opening minute of the third round with a clean looping right hook.
Perez appeared to score a knockdown in the fourth round when he tagged Hooker with a right cross and sent him tumbling backwards and to the mat, but the referee ruled it a slip.
Hooker had a good fifth round with an active jab, but Perez again caught Hooker with looping right hooks in the sixth round.
Perez remained the aggressor in the seventh round and took some of Hooker’s best punches but kept on moving forward. Perez remained the aggressor in the eighth round and had Hooker circling away from his opponent and moving backwards.
The final two rounds played out like the earlier rounds, with Perez pressing forward and landing an occasional right hook or right cross while Hooker would land a number of jabs while moving backwards.
A lot of rounds could have been scored either way, but the judges appeared to agree by scoring the fight 97-93 Perez, 97-93 Hooker, 95-95 making the bout a draw.
HBO PPV Preview: Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward, Hooker vs. Perez, Chilemba vs. Gvozdyk, Stevens vs. De La Rosa
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night Roc Nation Sports and Main Events Promotions will team up to deliver one of the best fights that could be made in boxing on HBO Pay Per View. The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada will be the host site for the WBO/IBF/WBA Light Heavyweight Title fight between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward.
Ten fights total are featured on this card, including the highly anticipated debut of two time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields.
HBO appears to be ready to televise four fights on the pay per view, and the following is a preview of all four bouts.
Curtis Stevens (28-5) vs. James De La Rosa (23-4); Middleweights
This bout is on the pay per view card despite the fact it’s highly unlikely that either participant will be fighting for a world title in the near future.
Curtis Stevens is a fan favorite and shocked many in his last bout when he beat undefeated prospect Patrick Teixeira.
He’ll be giving up ½ inch in reach and about three inches in height to De La Rosa. However, he has faced significantly better competition and has a deep amateur background than his opponent.
De La Rosa lost his last two fights and only has thirteen knockout victories. Stevens has twenty one knockout victories and is known for delivering exciting bouts.
Both boxers only fought one time in 2016, zero times in 2015, and three times in 2014.
Stevens has beaten the likes of Patrick Teixeira, Tureano Johnson, Patrick Majewski, Saul Roman, Derrick Findley, and Elvin Ayala. He has lost to the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, Andre Dirrell and Jesse Brinkley. De La Rosa has defeated the likes of Alfredo Angulo but has lost to the likes of Jason Quigley, Hugo Centeno Jr., Marcus Willis, and Allen Conyers.
Stevens has been inconsistent throughout his career, but this is a bout that he should win in a fan pleasing fashion.
Isaac Chilemba (24-4-2) vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk (11-0); Light Heavyweights
Not many boxers can claim to have lasted twelve rounds with Sergey Kovalev, and Isaac Chilemba is one of them.
However, he’s facing a highly decorated Ukranian amateur that is managed by Egis Klimas, who has an impressive stable of boxers under his control, and many consider Gvozdyk to be future world champion material.
Gvozdyk has nine stoppage victories in only eleven professional bouts and is a 2012 Summer Olympics Bronze medalist. Chilemba has ten stoppage victories in thirty professional bouts, so Gvozdyk has a clear edge in power. Chilemba also does not have the amateur experience of Gvozdyk.
Gvozdyk will be the same height as Chilemba but will also have a two and a half inch reach advantage. They are of the same age. Gvozdyk has also been considerably more active than Chilemba. He fought three times in 2016 and four times in 2015, while Chilemba only fought once in 2016 and twice in 2015.
Gvozdyk has already defeated the likes of Nadjib Mohammedi and Tommy Karpency before he has faced his twelfth opponent. Chilemba has defeated the likes of Doudou Ngumbu, Maksim Vlasov, Edison Miranda, Denis Grachev, and Vasily Lepikhin; but he has also lost to the likes of Sergey Kovalev, Eleider Alvarez, Tony Bellew, and Willbeforce Shihepo.
Chilemba is a tough opponent with a strong chin, but he’s not on the same level of technique as Gvozdyk and he doesn’t have the power to score an upset knockout.
This should be a good showcase fight for Gvozdyk to show off his skills.
Maurice Hooker (21-0-2) vs. Darleys Perez (33-2-1); Junior Welterweights
Maurice Hooker is one of the most intriguing prospects on the undercard, as his reach and height has many people comparing him to Paul Williams.
Hooker will have a four inch height advantage as well as an amazing ten inch reach advantage over Perez. He’s also six years younger than Perez.
Hooker is known for being a hard puncher and has stopped sixteen of his opponents. Perez has twenty one stoppage victories, but his best days appear to be behind him.
Hooker fought three times in 2015 and twice in 2016 while Perez fought one time in 2016 and three times in 2015.
Perez has the edge in amateur experience. He represented Columbia in the 2008 Summer Olympics while Hooker’s biggest claim to fame in the amateurs was when he won the Dallas Regional Golden Gloves Championship.
This bout is a big step up in competition for Hooker. He has defeated the likes of Ty Barnett, Wilfrido Buelvas, and Eduardo Galindo. Perez has beaten the likes of Argenis Lopez, Jonathan Maicelo, and Jaider Parra. His losses have come to Anthony Crolla and Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Perez was the former WBA Lightweight champion, but he’ll be competing at a higher weight class on Saturday and will be facing a good opponent with a ridiculous reach advantage.
The ten inch reach advantage will be too much for Perez to overcome.
Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1) vs. Andre Ward (30-0); WBO/IBF/WBA Light Heavyweight Title
The main event of the night is one of the best fights that could be made in boxing today and the winner will likely have a claim to the top pound for pound spot on the mythical list.
Kovalev, at the age of 33, and Ward, at the age of 32, are nearing the end of their physical primes but neither have shown signs of slowing down inside the ring.
They both are six foot tall, but Kovalev will have a slight one and a half inch reach advantage when they are both inside the ring.
Ward has the deeper amateur background of the two as he won the Olympic Gold Medal in 2004. Kovalev also had success as an amateur and was a former Russian Champion as an amateur, but he never competed in the Olympics and was engaged intense competition with two other Russian amateur standouts, Matt Korobov and Artur Beterbiev.
Kovalev has the edge in power. He has stopped twenty six of his opponents while Ward has only stopped fifteen. However, Ward is a gifted defensive boxer and is excellent with his counters, and Kovalev often leaves himself open for counters after he throws one of his heavy combinations.
Kovalev has defeated the likes of Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal, Nadjib Mohammedi, Bernard Hopkins, Blake Caparello, Nathan Cleverly, Ismayl Sillah, Cedric Agnew, and Gabriel Campillo. He has fought twice in 2015 and once in 2016.
Ward has fought twice in 2016 and once in 2015. He has defeated the likes of Alexander Brand, Sullivan Barrera, Paul Smith, Edwin Rodriguez, Chad Dawson, Carlo Froch, Artur Abraham, Sakio Bika, Allan Green, Mikkel Kessler, and Edison Miranda.
This is a tough fight for many to pick, mainly because Ward has never faced a power puncher like Kovalev and Kovalev has never faced a slick boxer like Ward.
However, Ward’s jab is his best weapon and he’ll likely use it often to keep Kovalev at bay. History has shown that a slick boxer will usually beat a power puncher if everything else is reason, and Saturday should be no different.
Interview with Isaac Chilemba: “He has picked the wrong time and wrong opponent:”
By: Matthew N. Becher
Isaac Chilemba is a contender in the Light Heavyweight Division. He is 29 years old from Malawi and lost his last fight in Russia to Sergey Kovalev. Many a pundit predicted Chilemba to be an easy opponent for Kovalev in the champs’ native country, but Chilemba proved anything but, lasting the entire fight while absorbing punches that have knocked out many a challenger before him. On November 19th, Chilemba will take on the up and coming Ukrainian Oleksandr Gvozdyk on the Kovalev v. Ward Pay per View undercard. We spoke with Isaac about his previous fight, switching trainers to Roy Jones Jr. and how he feels about becoming a gate keeper in the division.
Boxing Insider: After your last fight with Kovalev, do you feel you have a better chance at winning a title in the light heavyweight division?
Chilemba: Yes, I think that I am where I am supposed to be. I’ve put in a lot of sacrifice and a lot of time and I feel that I am super close to winning a title.
Boxing Insider: What was the reasoning for changing trainers after the Kovalev fight?
Chilemba: We had to make a decision on if we were going to stay training in Africa or if I would come back to America for training. We decided it would be better to go to America for training, for my career.
Boxing Insider: On November 19th, you will be the main undercard against former Olympian Bronze medalist Oleksandr Gvozdyk. How do you feel about performing on such a big stage? And what do you know about your opponent?
Chilemba: The stage doesn’t get to me at all. I am happy to fight anywhere, anytime. What I know about my opponent is that he was a top amateur and now is a good professional. I believe he wants to get somewhere in the boxing world. He has picked the wrong time and wrong opponent.
Boxing Insider: At 29 you are still a very young man in the fight game, but you will be seen as a gatekeeper for Gvozdyk. How does that feel?
Chilemba: I treat every opponent the same. We don’t overlook anyone, all fighters train the same. All of our goals, as fighters, is to be the best, and to be the champion. So if I’m fighting a guy with only 11 fights or a guy with 40 fights, they are all the same. He was a medalist, an Olympian, so I will treat him the same as if I was fighting a Kovalev.
Boxing Insider: Since you have been training with Roy Jones Jr. Is there anything that he has sharpened in your game plan and/or style?
Chilemba: Since training with Roy is the best thing that could happen right now. Coming up as a youth I would learn a lot of my technique watching other fighters and the fighter I watched the most video of was Roy Jones. My old trainer use to say to me “Stop that Roy Jones Shit”, he never thought that was my style. Now I am working with a guy that I look up to and he is showing me the meaning behind all the moves and why he was doing what he was doing. I believe that you will see a whole new Isaac Chilemba on the 19th of November.
Boxing Insider: So the main event is against 2 of the top pound for pound fighters in the world, and they are both in your weight class. What will the outcome be between Kovalev v. Ward?
Chilemba: I always believe that the boxer can outsmart the puncher. Kovalev is a puncher but is a very good boxer. It is very much a 50/50 game. Ward is a very smart fighter, and if he comes to box, he should be able to outbox Kovalev easily. It is very hard for me to pick a winner.