Oleksandr Gvozdyk won the WBC light heavyweight title in his 16th pro fight. Photo by Amanda Westcott-SHOWTIME
Oleksandr Gvozdyk will make the first defense of his WBC light heavyweight title against Doudou Ngumbu on March 30; it was announced Wednesday afternoon.
The 12-round bout will take place at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Preceding the Gvozdyk-Ngumbu fight will be a 10-round bout between welterweight Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Ray Robinson.
Both fights will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).
Gvozdyk and Ngumbu live and train in Oxnard, California, and are both managed by Egis Klimas, who also manages The Ring Magazine/WBA/WBO lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko and WBO light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev.
The 31-year-old Gvozdyk (16-0, 13 knockouts) won the WBC title on December 1 by knocking out longtime titleholder Adonis Stevenson in Quebec City, Quebec. Stevenson would unfortunately fall into a coma from the amount of punches he received before he was stopped.
There are potential bouts against the other titleholders at 175 pounds, including Kovalev, WBA titleholder Dmitry Bivol and IBF titlist Artur Beterbiev but Gvozdyk is focused on Ngumbu.
“It was a long journey for me to become a world champion and I plan on showing everyone why I am the best light heavyweight in the world,” said Gvozdyk, who won a bronze medal for Ukraine at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. “Ngumbu is a tough fighter who I cannot afford to overlook.
“My goal in 2019 is to unify with the other champions but before I can do that, I have to take care of business on March 30.”
Ngumbu (38-8, 14 KOs), who is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and now resides in Toulouse, France, has not fought since May 25 since winning a majority decision over previously unbeaten Yoann Kongolo.
The 37-year-old Ngumbu has lost to contender Igor Mikhalkin (three times), Umar Salanov, Isaac Chilemba and Nadjib Mohammedi.
“It is a great opportunity to face arguably the best light heavyweight fighter in the world,” said Ngumbu. “After 12 years and 46 fights in my career with serious opposition, I get my first shot at a major world title. I have the utmost respect for Oleksandr Gvozdyk, a great champion who took the WBC title in a war against Adonis Stevenson. It is not going to be easy but I believe I am more experienced as a pro and I intend to use that to my advantage.”
Kavaliauskas (21-0, 17 KOs), a native of Lithuania, knocked out Roberto Arriaza in a clash of unbeaten welterweight contenders on November 16.
The 30-year-old Kavaliauskas, who is ranked No. 7 by The Ring at 147 pounds, is the mandatory challenger to face WBO titleholder Terence Crawford.
Robinson (24-3, 12 KOs) resides in Philadelphia and will likely have a partisan crowd cheer him on. The 33-year-old Robinson has not fought since February 17 of last year, when he was stopped by contender Yordenis Ugas.
Also on the Top Rank card will be an IBF elimination bout between welterweights Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (15-0, 9 KOs) of Uzbekistan and Keita Obara (20-3-1, 18 KOs) of Japan.
Unbeaten middleweight Christian Mbilli (13-0, 13 KOs) will square off against Christopher Pearson (16-2, 12 KOs) in a 10-round bout.
The aforementioned undercard fights will stream on ESPN+, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET/ 3:30 p.m. PT.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, BoxingScene.com and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing.
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