Oleksandr Gvozdyk has the physical advantages to test David Benavidez in their fight this Saturday night for the WBC interim light heavyweight title on June 15th on PBC on Prime Video PPV at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs) is moving up in weight to 175, the natural weight class for former WBC light heavyweight champion Gvozdyk (20-1, 16 KOs).

Benavidez’s Unproven Record Against Top Talent

Benavidez, 27, has had success fighting at 168, but it was against smaller, weaker, less skilled fighters than Gvozdyk.

We’re going to see if Benavidez can compete against someone with power, size, and skills that he has never experienced in his 11-year career.

The best fighter Benavidez has fought is Caleb Plant, and he’s nowhere near as powerful, big, or technically talented as Gvozdyk. Benavidez squeaked out a decision against Plant, and that fight showed that he’s not the guy that casual fans think he is.

Gvozdyk’s Power and Skill Remain Intact

“Depending on how much he has left. He’s had a couple of fights recently. He had four or five years off, and then he came back and had a couple of nondescript wins,” said boxing expert Chris Algieri to Probox TV, talking about Oleksandr Gvozdyk, who faces David Benavidez this Saturday night.

The 37-year-old Gvozdyk’s power looked just as formidable in his two fights back from retirement as it had during his best years from 2016 to 2019.

“He’s a very athletic guy, a good athlete, and built well for the weight class. This is his natural weight class, and David is moving up to fight him,” said Algieri about Gvozdyk.

Benavidez comes down from 200 lbs, so he’s not moving up in a true sense. It’s more of a case of him not moving down in weight as much as he’s accustomed to, trimming to 168. When Benavidez rehydrates on Saturday, he will likely look like a cruiserweight, which he is.

Benavidez’s Vulnerable Style

“I think he has enough boxing ability, enough power, enough experience to push David Benavidez in a way that we’re going to get some answers to see if he’s going to be a player at 175 if he plans to,” said Algieri.

Benavidez stands in front of his opponents, firing off rapid-fire combinations, looking to score knockouts. Fighting like that against Gvozdyk will leave Benavidez vulnerable to getting high with the right hands from the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist.

Benavidez has a good chin, but that was against super middleweights with marginal power. The only big puncher Benavidez fought at 168 was David Lemieux, who was washed up by the time they fought in 2022, and he was never that good, even during his best years.

“If David Benavidez is saying he’s going to go back down to 168 after this,” said Algieri. “I don’t know if that’s really going to happen. It’s hard to go back down in weight once you’ve moved up and put on some muscles, especially to 175.”

Benavidez will move back down to 168 if he’s given the Canelo Alvarez fight, which doesn’t seem too likely unless the Saudis are willing to meet the Mexican superstar’s asking price. But if Benavidez loses to Gvozdyk, he might not have any choice.

It would be foolhardy for Benavidez to stay at 175 because if he can’t handle Gvozdyk’s skill and power, he won’t be able to take the big shots from IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev or deal with the boxing ability of WBA champ Dmitry Bivol.

Gvozdyk’s Power and Skill Will Be the Deciding Factor

“That’s seven pounds. That’s a bigger jump than some of the other weight classes, and we’ll see,” said Algieri. “David is a big guy coming down from well over 200 lbs. This is an interesting match-up, and I think we’re going to get a lot of answers that night.

“Does David Benavidez belong at 175? Can he handle a guy with the caliber of Gvozdyk, even if he is a little long in the tooth? We’ll see,” said Algieri.

Gvozdyk’s power and technical skills will cause Benavidez issues. Those things will still be present in this fight, and we’ll see if Benavidez can handle them.

Benavidez’s goal is to win this fight and then get the big payday from the Saudis to fight for the undisputed 175-lb championship against the winner of the Beterbiev vs. Bivol fight.

If Benavidez accomplishes that goal, he’ll likely move up to cruiserweight if he can’t get the fight against Canelo, which he probably won’t. He won’t stay at 175 becaue the division is barren, apart from Beterbiev, Bivol, and David Morrell Jr.

Fighting Morrell wouldn’t be a big money fight for Benavidez, so he’ll likely give up on the 175-lb division and go up to cruiserweight. That’s arguably where Benavidez should have been for the last three to four years.

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