Ukraine has fast become known as a global leader in producing the some of boxing’s greatest fighters in recent years. Since the break up of the Soviet Union, The Ukrainian Amateur Boxing Association has produced the likes of former Heavyweight World Champion’s Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, current P4P star Vasyl Lomachenko and WBO Cruiserweight Champion Oleksandr Usyk to name just a few. Here are three fighters who are expected to emulate their previously mentioned compatriots;
Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk – Light Heavyweight – 13-0
“The Nail” won a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic games, competing alongside Vasyl Lomachenko and Olkesandr Usyk. Much like his fellow Olympians he turned professional, basing himself in America and signing with Top Rank’s Bob Arum. Gvozdyk is trained by the 2016 Boxing writers Association trainer of the year, Robert Garcia. Having made good work of former world title challengers Najib Mohammedi, Tommy Karpency, Issac Chilemba and Yunieski Gonzalez in recent fights, Gvozdyk finds himself ranked in the top 6 of all the sanctioning bodies with a mandatory World title shot not to far down the line.
A good technical fighter with a classic style, Gvozdyk likes to use a solid jab to back his opponents up and use solid combinations to devastating effect. Fast becoming known as one of the 175 pound divisions most feared contenders with 11 knockouts in 13 fights. Gvodzyk will have to make do with the little known Craig Baker on the 18th August whilst Bob Arum can plot a way to a World title shot. The light heavyweight division titles are tied up with Adonis Stevenson (WBC) and Andre Ward (WBA, WBO and IBF) at present with the undefeated Eledier Alvarez standing between Gvozdyk and Adonis Stevenson. Whilst the likes of Artur Beterbiev, Sullivan Barrera and Sergey Kovalev look to be the ticket towards a mandated shot at any of Andre Ward’s belts. 2018 could be the year for “The Nail”.
Sergiy “The Technician” Derevyanchenko – Middleweight – 10-0
The 31 year old from Crimea won the bronze medal at middleweight at the 2007 World Amateur Boxing Championships and competed at Beijing 2008 Olympic games, along with an impressive record of 31-1 in the World Series of Boxing, turning professional in 2014. Fighting out of New York, Brooklyn. “The Technician” is in the capable hand of Andre Rozier and Gary Stark Sr, working alongside high level middleweights; Danny Jacobs and Avtandil Khurtsidze.
Derevyanchenko is just one fight away from a shot at the IBF middleweight title and will fight Tureano Johnson on August 25th in an eliminator for the IBF middleweight title, currently held by Gennady Golovkin. Signed with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions Derevyanchenko possesses vicious punching power with a killer instinct, this being evident with eight knockouts in just 10 fights. Teddy Atlas described the Ukrainian middleweight as a “Solid in every area, I don’t see anything he doesn’t do well. He might not be scintillating, he may not have that neon light of talent in one area, but he is so solid in every area. He’s always on point when he throws punches, never out of position.”
Taras “The Real Deal” Shelestyuk – Welterweight – 16-0
Another fighter from the 2012 London Olympic squad. Shelestyuk took home the Bronze medal at the London Olympic games having previously won the Gold medal at the Baku World Amateur Boxing championship in 2011. Basing himself in Los Angeles, Shelestyuk was until recently trained by Freddie
Roach. Having recently moved to Joel Diaz, Shelestyuk find himself ranked at number seven by the WBO. If Shelestyuk can get an eliminator with the likes Lucas Matthysse, Bradley Skeete, Jessie Vargas or Konstantin Ponomarev in the coming months. “The Real Deal” could find himself with a shot at the WBO title in 2018.
The southpaw like many of his compatriots is technically very impressive, with a classical boxing style he is a good all rounder. His high guard defence allows him to be on the front foot as he likes to assert himself on his opponents. However Shelestyuk is a reasonably patient fighter with him being known as more of a boxer than a puncher. Although his power is not to be underestimated with ten knockouts in sixteen fights.
By Adam Noble-Forcey