By Tré Berry III | 10/22/2019
🔩🇺🇦 Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk🇺🇦🔩
It has been a while since we’ve done a piece for this segment here; The reason being a plethora of strong performances taking place throughout all of boxing, and there were very few 📉let downs in terms of personal performance during that time. This segment is typically reserved for those who have under-achieved a little, or needs some sort of overhaul to their approach, but today we will buck the trend, as former WBC Light-Heavyweight Champion 🥉🇺🇦Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1-0, 14KO👊) is realistically too good for this type of segment under normal conditions.
With that being stated, we will take a look at a couple of aspects that Oleksandr can sure up in his arsenal that A) could’ve helped him in his fight he lost last Saturday night against 🇷🇺Artur Beterbiev, B) how it could possibly help him win a potential re-match, and C) how it could effectively push him to the top of the sport if he improves in a couple of areas that we will specify in-depth.
Gvozdyk is very good in a multitude of facets, and he has a lot of different faculties to bounce to once something isn’t working, which is loosely the very definition of what it is to be a top-prizefighter. If there’s anything else that he could add to the overall 🖼️picture, it would have to be in improving his in-fight awareness. In his recent loss to WBC/IBF Light-Heavyweight Champion Artur Beterbiev, it was evident within the first 4 rounds that Olek was enacting the exact formula he needed to deal with the menacing Russian.
Beterbiev would connect with power every once in a while, but Gvozdyk largely kept him at bay with non-stop lateral shifty foot movement, peppering him with the jab and immediately getting out of harms way, making life a little difficult for Beterbiev early who was looking to test his range to get closer and closer to land the thunder.
Albeit not really showing up in the scoring aspect of the equation, while Gvozdyk was still 📌tacking on the rounds, the danger factor within the flow and pattern of the fight began to increase at an alarming rate in Beterbiev’s favor because for whatever reason, Gvozdyk started to deviate from the pattern in which granted him early success, and began to stand more flat-footed in mid-range, with increasing bravery that seeped into his overall judgement on how to attack Beterbiev.
With this tactical error taking shape, it rounded into full form as Beterbiev started to land those bone crunching left hooks to the body, and started to find home for the short power right hand that found home often to the temple. It was from there was Betebiev really started to lay the ground work, and he successfully connected all of the dots to weaken Gvozdyk, to where the pressure became too much for the Ukrainian, and with Beterbiev putting a rubber stamp on this high level prize-fight, to come out victorious in taking Gvozdyk’s WBC belt to pair with the IBF belt he came in with.
Something to note – Gvozdyk at some point of the fight suffered a minor concussion that 🗣️Head-Trainer Teddy Atlas believed came from a couple of the right hands that inadvertently landed behind the head, which may be a credible claim in which may have contributed to his decision making going. Gvozdyk though has had some periodical lapses in his judgement in his career, so with all that being specified, it is something that he still has to own up to, and I’m sure he has, being a down to earth fighter who analyzes his personal performances in great detail.
Sticking to the gameplan takes a lot of mental endurance, multiplied and magnified when you are facing the type of fighter that Artur Beterbiev is, however Gvozdyk is capable of taking his concentration to another level to continue the foot movement that could help him immensely if there happens to be a re-match sometime down the line, but that’s something he and Atlas will have to address, and discuss.
With full perspective, it is inherently not fair to compare Gvozdyk (who as specified is a very good fighter) to his fellow country-men in reigning Lightweight Champion of the World 🥇🥇🇺🇦Vasiliy “Loma” Lomachenko & recent Cruiserweight conqueror 🥇🇺🇦Oleksandr Usyk, who have both found the key to unblock their abilities to reach boxing’s zenith – but due to affiliation of region, and being great friends of both Champions, all 3 of them are paired together in a sense as a trio-package. If you take a close look, you will notice one thing that is lacking in Gvozdyk’s game, that Usyk has become an expert in, and what Lomachenko has mastered among the true greats in boxing history.
The area of weakness is in Gvozdyk’s off-kilter defensive positioning during ⚖️50/50 punch exchanges. The problem is not in his normal base defense which is very strong, keeping his hands up, and looking to pick shots upstairs…but it’s in his inability to shift his defending hand to the middle to protect the middle portion of his face while firing a punch with the opposite hand.
When doing so, the backhand becomes increasingly important to keep in the center to be prepared to pick off any counter that may come from either the left side or the right side, and Gvozdyk tends to keep that hand to one side of his face, which leaves him wide open for a split second for a counter on the opposite side, no matter what position he is in.
Lomachenko is prone to 🛡️crossing that backhand so that you can’t sneak anything in at all while he shifts with his footwork out of range, nullifying your counter opportunity over the top.
As for Usyk, his hard pivot and sense of timing with his defending hand is why he has been very good within this area as well. Gvozdyk when he opened up his offense in rounds 6 and 7 in his fight against Beterbiev found offensive success, but he also got clipped with hard shots that he didn’t need to take, and that his body started failing to handle.
If Gvozdyk can add that to his toolbox, they he may possibly ascend to the next level to see similar type of skill and success that his fellow Ukrainian counterparts have been experiencing. Gvozdyk is a game competitor, so I expect to see him fully back in form, and I hope to see him tighten up in the areas specified so that he can come back improved as a more dangerous all-around weapon. 🥊🥊