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The will of Ukraine, and a nation at war, is a powerful motivator for Oleksandr Gvodzyk in his David Benavidez battle | Boxing News

By Alan Dawson

LAS VEGAS — Oleksandr Gvozdyk has a powerful driving force that helps guide him into his light heavyweight battle against David Benavidez on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

The pair square off as the chief support to the Gervonta Davis and Frank Martin lightweight main event in what could become an explosive Premier Boxing Champions pay-per-view on Prime Video, and PPV.com.

Benavidez commands his own headlines, because of his links to a Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez showdown at super middleweight, or the winner of October’s duel involving Dmitri Bivol and Artur Beterbiev in Riyadh. However, he acknowledged to Boxing News recently that Gvozdyk is “a really dangerous fighter.”

And that might be because of the run Ukraine fighters have enjoyed this year, and the camaraderie between its elite stars.

This year alone, Oleksandr Usyk defeated Tyson Fury, Vasiliy Lomachenko swatted George Kambosos aside, Denys Berinchyk defeated Emmanuel Navarrete, and Serhii Bohachuk beat Brian Mendoza.

Each of those four fighters are ranked No.1, No.2, No.3, and No.4, respectively, in their country, with Gvozdyk No.5, hoping to continue Ukraine’s hot streak.

Speaking exclusively to Boxing News, Gvozdyk said he feels “no pressure” heading into the Benavidez fight, as he has “nothing but motivation” from his peers, and his people, who have endured a decade-long war with Russia, which escalated in 2022 when Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded more of the country.

“Me and Usyk both understand it’s very important for Ukraine to cheer up our people,” Gvozdyk said, adding that Usyk visited him in Los Angeles early June to help inspire him ahead of fight week. “We want to give them more motivation to fight against Russian aggression — against invaders.”

Ukraine’s modern day success is no surprise to Gvozdyk because they “have a really good school of boxing, with a good set of athletes — and we just know how to keep it going,” he told BN.

While confident his fighter will pull off the win, Benavidez’s promoter Sampson Lewkowicz is wary about Gvodzyk because of the schooling he’ll have received, as well as how Ukraine’s people rallied to defend against Russia’s occupation of 20% of the country, per Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a 2022 article from Reuters.

“I believe that besides the talent of the Ukrainians, is the will to serve their country one way or another — to give an extra motivation for what’s going on in Ukraine,” Lewkowicz exclusively told Boxing News.

“I have all the respect for the opponent, for the challenger,” he told us. “I understand what’s going on in his country. In a normal situation, Ukraine will be free like it was years ago, and it would be much easier to beat him. But now it’ll be harder because he wants to prove Ukrainians fight to the end.

“I worry about it because it comes with extra motivation. However, Benavidez definitely will be tougher and I think he will come with a victory.”

Commenting on Ukraine’s winning run in boxing, Benavidez said: “Good for them and congratulations to them.

“But that run is going to come to an end when I get in there with Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Ukraine’s had a good time in boxing this year but this is my time now.”

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