At the age of 31, Oleksandr – his friends call him Alex – is a four-year pro. The WBC light heavyweight world champion, he was an elite amateur at the international level before his debut and a bronze medalist at the 2012 Olympic Games. His teammates on the powerhouse Ukrainian Olympic team that year included featherweight gold medalist Vasiliy Lomachenko and heavyweight gold medalist Aleksandr Usyk – both of whom are his close friends – light welterweight silver medalist Denys Berinchyk, and welterweight bronze medalist Taras Shelestyuk. Oleksandr was also 9-0 with 3 knockouts in AIBA’s World Series of Boxing fights over the last 1 ½ years of his amateur career.
As a professional, he is a stablemate of rising superstars Lomachenko – a three-division world champion and the Boxing Writers Association of America’s “2017 Fighter of the Year” – and Usyk, the undisputed cruiserweight world champion, as well as former two-time light heavyweight world champion Sergey Kovalev and several upcoming prospects. All are managed by Egis Klimas, the Boxing Writers Association of America’s “Manager of the Year” in 2016 and 2017.
Oleksandr has now joined Lomachenko and Usyk as a reigning world champion – in his last fight on December 1 in Quebec City, Quebec, he won the WBC light heavyweight world title with a sensational 11th-round knockout against defending champion Adonis Stevenson.
Boxingscene.com’s Lem Satterfield reported [excerpts]: Oleksandr Gvozdyk trailed on two of the three judges’ cards when he secured his 11th-round knockout of southpaw WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson before “Superman’s” stunned partisan fans at Centre Videotron.
Gvozdyk already had overcome a third-round no-call by referee Michael Griffin from a right hand seconds into the period that was ruled a slip, as well as being wobbled by a hard, 10th-round left cross that sent him reeling with only the ropes holding him up.
In addition, however, the 2012 Ukrainian Olympic bronze medalist also trailed, 98-92, and, 96-94, on the cards of Jack Woodburn and Guido Cavalleri, with Mike Ross having it a draw at 95-95 before Griffin rescued a helpless Stevenson crumpled in a neutral corner at the 2:49 mark.
Gvozdyk earned his ninth knockout in 10 fights to dethrone the 41-year-old Stevenson (29-2-1, 24 KOs), who entered as boxing’s oldest and longest reigning champion with nearly 5 ½-year championship supremacy.
Gvozdyk’s right hand finished the fight-ending, 10-punch barrage, sinking Stevenson down the ropes and to his backside. The knockout ended the 10th title defense during a run that includes six stoppages for Stevenson.
Gvozdyk had earned the WBC’s interim crown in March with a unanimous decision over Mehdi Amar to become Stevenson’s mandatory challenger.
Known for his left-handed “Superman punch,” Stevenson had gone 16-0-1 with 14 KOs since his lone loss in April 2010 that he avenged by sixth-round KO in March 2013. Stevenson entered at 9-0-1 with seven KOs in championship bouts…. [End Satterfield item]
In his post-fight interview, Oleksandr said, “This win means everything to me. I’ve trained my whole life for this and tonight, all of the hard work was worth it. Having Teddy Atlas in my corner was a huge help. He knew exactly what to say to me. We trained so well for this fight, and I knew I was going to get the knockout. Adonis was a great champion, but it’s my time, now. I’m ready for anybody else in the division.”
Stevenson was taken to the hospital in critical condition after the fight, but recent reports indicate his condition is stable and improving.
In earlier interviews, Oleksandr said, “Lomachenko is my good friend. We were together on amateur team. I met him first like, maybe 2004. I start to be a friend since maybe only 2009 – when I start to be member of Olympic team, we start to be friends. We were on team together until Olympic Games, 2012, and then we were together one season of World Series of Boxing until 2013. After the series, we both signed with Top Rank.
“Lomachenko has training camps in Oxnard, always in the same gym, and I always join to him to train together. His father used to train me in amateur – he was not like, my official trainer, but he always was helping me and we always trained together. He helps me now in camp, too.
“It’s very good having Lomachenko here in Oxnard. It’s good memory, you know, like when we were amateurs together having a training camp, making preparations for Olympic Games or World Championships. Now it’s like it’s come back again and we’re all together again. It’s very interesting and very exciting. We even meet in Ukraine because we’re living in different cities. But here, we’re all together, so we spend all of our leisure time together – holidays and weekends, always together. I still don’t have a lot of friends, like native Americans, here.”
“I try to always stay in shape – I never stop training. When I rest, I try to do some like, morning warm-up, some little exercises, or ride bicycle. I try to do something always.
“I was born in Soviet Union, where Alexander is common name. But in Ukrainian translation of Alexander, it’s Oleksandr. It’s pronounced like Alexander – everybody calls me Alex. In Ukraine, one half of people speak Ukrainian and one half, in eastern part, speak Russian. I am from eastern part and speak Russian when I’m in Ukraine. Officially, in my passport, I’m Oleksandr – with ‘o’ – but speaking, I’m Alexander. My last name is pronounced – the ‘g’ is not silent, but almost silent.
“My nickname is ‘The Nail,’ like the tool to join something, not like on the finger. The exact translation of my last name from Russian is ‘nail.’ “