Oleksandr Gvozdyk to Defend WBC LHW Title for First Time in Philly
WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk will defend the belt for the first time against Doudou Ngumbu this weekend in Philadelphia.
Updated: March 28, 2019 • 9:00 PM ET
Doudou Ngumbu is looking to pull off the upset this weekend in Philadelphia.
The WBC light heavyweight title will be on the line this Saturday in Philadelphia, as newly crowned champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk will defend the belt for the first time against Doudou Ngumbu.
Gvozdyk (16-0, 13 KOs) is coming off a destructive 11th-round knockout of former champion Adonis Stevenson in December, leaving the Canadian fighter in a medically induced coma and critical condition. With the victory over Stephenson, the 31-year-old Ukrainian fighter defeated the longest reigning champion in boxing and will now try to begin his own run at unifying the light heavyweight belts.
Aside his ground-shaking victory over Stephenson, Gvozdyk has key victories over Mehdi Amar, Craig Baker, Yunieski Gonzalez and Isaac Chilemba. He was a bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games and won nine fights during the World Series of Boxing between 2011 and 2013.
Saturday’s fight will be just his second under veteran trainer Teddy Atlas.
"I like Teddy because he's a straight, honest person. I like honesty," Gvozdyk recently told ESPN. "Even though he's really picky, but this is the thing: It's an essential ingredient to be successful. He's always on top of every problem, every mistake. He never lets me drift — he makes me better. And also, he's a good person.
"I don't like fake [people], and Teddy is really the opposite. That's why I would rather hear that something is wrong with me and it's going to be true than looking to some compliments and it's going to be fake."
Gvozdyk added, ”It's always difficult to train with Teddy because he's always demanding to be the best, each day. No day can you drift or something. It's always difficult, super difficult, but it's worth it. We're not here to make it easy. It's no pain, no gain."
The 37-year-old Ngumbu is 4-1 in his last five fights, most recently defeating Yoann Kongolo by majority decision in May. The Congo born fighter turned pro in 2007 and started 20-0 before losing to Chilemba by unanimous decision in 2009. Ngumbu (38-8, 14 KOs) immediately followed that defeat with a second consecutive loss, this time to Igor Mikhalkin by majority decision.
Despite winning streaks over lesser competition, Ngumbu has fallen short in big moments; but he has a chance to erase his past inconsistencies by defeating a younger fighter who shocked the world just a few months ago.
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Saturday’s co-main event will be a welterweight fight between undefeated Lithuanian fighter Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Ray Robinson.
The 30-year-old Kavaliauskas is 20-0 with 17 knockouts and coming off a third-round knockout of Roberto Arriaza in November. Meanwhile, Philadelphia native Robinson will attempt to rebound in front of a hometown crowd from a seventh-round TKO loss to Yordenis Ugas last February.
The loss to Ugas halted Robinson’s 13-fight winning streak and sent him down the welterweight rankings. The 33-year-old has had an injury plagued career, but a win over a top 10 ranked opponent on Saturday would put him back where he needs to be in welterweight contention. The main question for him will be: will the 13-month layoff help or hurt him?
• Kudratillo Abdukakhorov vs. Keita Obara, 12 rounds, IBF welterweight eliminator
• Christian Mbilli vs. Chris Pearson, 10 rounds, middleweights
• Fredrick Lawson vs. Juan Ruiz, 10 rounds, welterweights
• Jose Lopez vs. Askhat Ualikhanov, eight rounds, junior welterweights
• Cassius Chaney vs. Christian Mariscal, six rounds, heavyweights
• Donald Smith vs. Jose Antonio Martinez, six rounds, featherweights
• Sonny Conto vs. Omar Acosta, four rounds, heavyweights
• Josh Ortiz vs. James Thomas, six rounds, junior lightweights
• Jeremy Adorno vs. Sebastian Baltazar, four rounds, junior featherweights
• The undercard begins at 6 p.m. this Saturday and can be seen on ESPN+; the main card will begin at 10 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN.