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Breakdown: Oleksandr Gvozdyk vs. Doudou Ngumbu fight preview and prediction

ESPN presents a Light Heavyweight fight this weekend as champ Gvozdyk makes his first defense.

Jose Ramirez v Amir Imam Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Saturday night, it’s a title fight on ESPN as recently crowned 175 lbs. champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk (16-0; 13 KO) puts his WBC Light Heavyweight title on the line against Doudou Ngumbu (38-8; 14 KO). The show takes place this Saturday, March 30 and airs live on ESPN with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET, with prelims airing on ESPN+ starting at 7:00.

Oleksandr Gvozdyk

  • Career Best - The undefeated Gvozdyk comes in here off what is unquestionably his best career win: a KO of Adonis Stevenson that ended Stevenson’s 5 12 year title run. Gvozdyk absolutely bludgeoned Stevenson in that fight, putting a beating on him that ended up putting the former champion into a coma...
  • Response to Stevenson? - And just how Gvozdyk responds to Stevenson’s medical struggles remains to be seen. Some fighters who are in the ring when their opponent is seriously injured have a lot taken out of them mentally. Think of Mike Perez, who was undefeated when he beat Magomed Abdusalamov, seriously injuring his opponent in the process. Perez went just 2-3-1 in his next 6. Stevenson is doing much better than Abdusalamov, so hopefully that won’t be the case here, but it is a valid question.
  • #1 Light Heavyweight? - Gvozdyk is currently ranked #1 by Ring Magazine in the rejuventaed Light Heavyweight division. That’s mainly because of the Stevenson win, but it’s also because of Kovalev and Alvarez trading wins. I’m not 100% convinced he’s truly the best in the division, but he’s certainly got a strong case.
  • Teddy Atlas - This is the second fight for Gvozdyk working with new trainer Teddy Atlas. Obviously, things went well last time out, so let’s see how this pairing continues to work.
  • Ukrainian Olympian - Before turning pro in 2014, Gvozdyk was a member of the same 2012 Ukrainian team that prodiced Vasyl Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk. That means there are currently three different divisions where members of that team stand tall as #1, which is pretty remarkable.

Doudou Ngumbu

  • Big, and only, opportunity - This is Ngumbu’s first career shot at one of the major world titles, and he’s coming seemingly out of nowhere for it. He’s also 37 years old and a 12 year pro, which means it’s likely his only shot. If he wants to be a world champion, it’s now or never.
  • Not much momentum - Ngumbu doesn’t comes in here on much of a run. He had a December 2017 loss to Igor Mikhalkin, then just one fight in 2018 - a win over Glory fighter Yoann Kongolo. That’s not much to justify a title shot, but, you know, boxing.
  • Fonfara loss - For US fans, the one fight he may be known for is a 2014 decision loss to Andrzej Fonfara on Showtime. Fonfara was on a good run at the time, and Ngumbu acquitted himself quite well in that fight. That said, Fonfara ultimately used volume and power to outwork Ngumbu, which is a strategy that plays to Gvozdyk’s strengths as well.
  • +1600 underdog - Yep. And Gvozdyk is a -10,000 favorite. So there it is.

What else is on the card?

  • Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0; 17 KO) vs. Ray Robinson (24-3; 12 KO) - This is another big mismatch, with the same odds as the main event. Kavaliauskas is the #8 ranked Welterweight, while Robinson is approaching two years without a win. He’s here to bring in local fans and get Kavaliauskas rounds against a southpaw in anticipation of a likely fight with Terence Crawford later this year.

Final Verdict

These aren’t competitive fights. But if you want to see more from arguably the world’s best Light Heavyweight, and check out Kavaliauskas before a Crawford fight is announced, here you go.
Prediction: Oleksandr Gvozdyk, TKO R10

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