Dmitry Bivol vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk

Who would take it?
BROOMFIELD, CO - JANUARY 24: Oleksandr Gvozdyk lands a punch to the face of Cory Cummings during the second round of their Super Welterweight fight January 24, 2015 at 1st Bank Arena. Cummings lost the fight after the referee stopped the fight in the 2nd round. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Following the aftermath of Sergey Kovalev vs. Eleider Alvarez, one could claim it in-effect symbolised a new era in the light heavyweight division. Alvarez, after fighting in numerous WBC eliminators and repeatedly failing to get the chance at facing WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, grabbed his opportunity with both hands by knocking out Kovalev in brutal fashion. Kovalev was then considered “the no.1 man” of the light heavyweight division by the general consensus.

With that being Kovalev’s 3rd defeat in 5 fights, coupled with his age of 34, he lost the aura of being the same dangerous and dominant champion, pretty much signifying the end of his reign and birth of a new age.

In recent years the light heavyweight division has been stacked with deep talent, boasting fighters such as: Chad Dawson, Jean Pascal, Sergey Kovalev, Artur Beterbiev, Dmitry Bivol, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, and Eleider Alvarez, as well as top contenders, like Sullivan Barrera and Isaac Chilemba and so forth.

It is quite clear the division is dominated by fighters from the so-called “Eastern Bloc”. The two main stars this article looks to focus on are, Dmitry Bivol (14-0, 11KOs) from Russia (current WBA light heavyweight champion), and Oleksandr Gvozdyk (15-0, 12KOs) from the Ukraine. We breakdown the future matchup, as boxing fans and media would say that this meeting is inevitable looking at the current landscape of the division–if boxing politics permit this.

If you look at the career trajectory of both fighters, it is apparent both teams have full confidence in their fighter’s abilities and there is no room for tune-ups or soft touches. As such, both of their boxing careers have been somewhat fast-tracked. Both have comparable resumes in regards to fighting tough contenders, with Isaac Chilemba being the common opponent for both fighters.

Dmitry Bivol

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A calculated silent assassin, Dmitry Bivol is a very good boxer-puncher with a record of 14-0, who picked up the WBA’s version of the light heavyweight title against Trent Broadhurst.

Best Wins Include: Sullivan Barrera, Isaac Chilemba and Felix Varela

Strengths

Bivol’s main strengths lie in the fact that he is a very calculated fighter, a textbook puncher that sets up his shots well, with complete precision and with a mixture of tremendous combination punching. He has shown this particularly against Barrera and Valera. In both fights he maintained excellent distance and looked to counterpunch the other guy. Additionally, he has shown he has the brute power to knock guys out, as can be seen in his fight against Trent Broadhurst and the last round of the Barrera fight.

Weaknesses

Let me preface with this for both guys, it is hard to pick out weaknesses because these fighters will still need to be tested at a higher level. The main criticism of Bivol is that he is primarily a head-hunter that focuses less on the body, which may hinder him in future fights, especially if he is up against a more skillful boxer.

Defence thus far has been tight, but it has been exploited where Bivol can be hit quite easily. When compared to Gvozdyk, he is not as agile and much more rigid in terms of movement.

Oleksandr Gvozdyk

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Hailing from the famed and very successful 2012 Ukrainian Olympic boxing team that included stablemates Oleksandr Usyk and Vasyl Lomachenko, who have gone onto set the pro game alight, is Oleksandr Gvozdyk, who himself won a bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics.

Best Wins Include: Isaac Chilemba, Nadjib Mohammedi, Yunieski Gonzalez, Tommy Karpency

Strengths

Known as “The Nail”, he really is the epitome of that, with his stinging jab being the best weapon in his arsenal. Gvozdyk has utilised the jab quite effectively and fights behind it to set it up for his straight rights. He was successful in doing so against Gonzalez and Mohammedi, who had no answer to this. Gvozdyk has shown exceptional ring IQ and footwork and movement, which I believe will set him apart from the pack in this stacked division. He can move comfortably for a 175lber. Furthermore, Chilemba was not able to cope with the sheer work-rate Gvozdyk possesses, especially with the barrage of punches against the ropes.

Weaknesses

He may have an 80% KO ratio, but I am still sceptical if Gvozdyk has the same power as Bivol, especially one-punch KO power. So the lack of big power could be a weakness.

Tommy Karpency caught Gvozdyk with a sweet, flush shot to Gvozdyk’s chin, showing some chin vulnerability. We haven’t seen this so far with Bivol. Mehdi Amar provided an insight on how you could possibly get the better of Gvozdyk. In a very grueling and learning fight, the rugged Amar was able to catch him with the jab and one-two.

Prediction:

Based on what has been showcased by both fighters, it is very promising and fairly difficult to pick out a winner. Both haven’t been involved in a fight where they have been against odds, they have always been favourites. If I had to pick a winner between these two talented guys, I’d have to lean towards Oleksandr Gvozdyk ever so slightly, mainly due to the fact he has the enhanced resume (marginally), and has the edge in terms of ring IQ. I could see him making more adjustments, a bit like his Ukranian countrymen.

This matchup is fascinating and it brings together two undefeated, highly-skilled boxers that are in similar positions of their career in terms of age, record and resume. It is a real mix of styles with visible strengths based on their track records, and limited weaknesses thus far.

We as boxing fans await in anticipation of this fight!

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