By Jake Donovan
The light heavyweight championship reign of Oleksandr Gvozdyk is officially underway.
The unbeaten boxer from Ukraine will make the first defense of his 175-pound crown as he faces France’s Doudou Ngumbu, which headlines Saturday’s edition of Top Rank Boxing on ESPN live from the sold-out 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Penn.
Gvozdyk (16-0, 13KOs) weighed 174.7 for his first bout since seizing the World light heavyweight championship in an 11th round knockout of Adonis Stevenson last December. The career-best victory came at a heavy price, as Stevenson was left fighting for his life from head injuries sustained in the contest, but whom has since recovered.
Ngumbu (38-8, 14KOs) tipped the scales at 174.3 pounds for his first shot at a major title (for those who don’t hold the IBO in the same regard as WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO). A ring veteran of 12 years, the 37-year old Congolese boxer from France is best known for a hard fought 10-round loss to Andrzej Fonfara in a Nov. ’14 Showtime-televised headliner.
The winner of Saturday’s main event will next be ordered to face mandatory challenger Marcus Browne later this year.
A pair of welterweight contests grace the undercard, with all four participants comfortably making weight.
Lithuania’s Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0, 17KOs) has seen his name surface as a potential future opponent for reigning welterweight titlist and pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford. Before he gets there, he will have to get past local welterweight Ray Robinson.
Both boxers came in well under the 147-pound limit: Kavaliauskas checked in at 146.1 pounds, while Robinson (24-3, 12KOs) weighed a trim and ready 145.8 pounds.
Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (15-0, 9KOs), an Uzbekistani fighting out of Malaysia, puts his unbeaten record and high ranking on the line as he faces Japan’s Keita Obara in the evening’s 12-round co-feature. Abdukakhorov weighed 145.8 pounds, while Obara—a former 140-pound title challenger—hit the scales at 146.2 pounds.
Oleksandr Gvozdyk, 174.7 lbs. vs. Doudou Ngumbu, 174.3 lbs.–12 rds, light heavyweight
Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, 145.8 lbs. vs. Keita Obara, 146.2 lbs.—12 rds, welterweight
Egidijus Kavialauskas, 146.1 lbs. vs. Ray Robinson, 145.8 lbs.—10 rds, welterweight
Fredrick Lawson, 146.7 lbs. vs. Juan Ruiz, 149.6 lbs.—10 rds, welterweight
Christian Mbilli, 163.3 lbs. vs. Humberto Gutierrez, 165.5 lbs.—8 rds, middleweight
Jose Lopez, 141.5 lbs. bs. Askhat Ualikhanov, 141.3 lbs.—8 rds, super lightweight
Joshafar Ortiz, 129.6 lbs. vs. James Thomas, 130.3 lbs.—6 rds, super featherweight
Jeremy Adorno, 120.1 lbs. vs. Sebastian Baltazar, 120.3 lbs.—6 rds, welterweight
Sonny Conto, 217.1 lbs. vs. Omar Acosta, 206.6 lbs.—4 rds, heavyweight
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox