Terence Crawford will look to further cement his status as a pound-for-pound star this weekend in his native Nebraska. On the undercard, Ukrainian Olympic medalist Oleksandr Gvozdyk will look to build on his own resume as a top-10 contender at light heavyweight.
Gvozdyk has just 13 professional fights but is already angling to emerge as a top star at 175 pounds. He has finished his opponents within the distance in 11 of his 13 victories. He has knocked out four straight legitimate contenders heading into this bout–Nadjib Mohammedi, Tommy Karpency, Isaac Chilemba and Yunieski Gonzalez.
Baker in fact represents a step down from that line, at least on paper. His best win is unquestionably his Round 2 TKO over Cuba’s Umberto Savigne. But Baker’s overall record has been swelled by opponents with losing records–many of them ancient trial horses with records like 7-30-3.
This is a fight that will draw a decent audience, at least among the truly hardcore fans. So for Gvozdyk, it’s a chance to further build up his popularity.
Within the short-term future, expect to see Gvozdyk on the division’s biggest stages. I would personally put him top five in the division. No credible ranking would omit him from the 175-pound top 10.
I think a third fight between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev in unlikely for the immediate future. But if Ward moves up to fight at cruiserweight or heavyweight, there is an outstanding chance that Gvozdyk and Kovalev will be left to battle for Ward’s abandoned.
The other two fighters I would include in that scrum are Cuba’s Sullivan Barrera and Kovalev’s fellow Russian, Artur Beterbiev.