Fortunes can change quickly in boxing, and coach Eddie Croft knows this all too well.

Super middleweight Evgeny Shvedenko, whom Croft trains and manages, was poised to be the IBF mandatory challenger to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez before a loss to William Scull in 2022. Now, two years later, Shvedenko is on the road, challenging a highly regarded prospect.

Shvedenko will face unbeaten Cuban prospect Osleys Iglesias on Thursday at the Montreal Casino in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Shvedenko (16-1, 7 KOs) has experienced the harsh realities of the boxing business. Since his loss, the 33-year-old, originally from Russia but now residing in San Mateo, California, has fought only twice. One of those bouts was a September draw against undefeated Russian Pavel Silyagin. After fighting frequently during his development, his rise to the top of the division has slowed considerably, with his defeat compounding the challenges.

Croft, Shvedenko’s coach and manager, explained the situation.

“The pandemic really set us back,” Croft told BoxingScene. “We had four fights fall through. Three of those fights fell out two weeks or less from the fight date. Along with the inactivity, we couldn’t train together. He was essentially training himself.”

Shvedenko was inactive in 2022 while awaiting his IBF super middleweight eliminator. Initially, he was set to fight former titleholder Caleb Truax, but that fight didn’t materialize. A subsequent potential fight with Aidos Yerbossynuly also fell through. After 19 months of inactivity, Shvedenko returned to lose a one-sided unanimous decision.

“The inactivity made the fight with Scull immensely difficult,” Croft said. “The loss crushed momentum that had been building for years. On top of all that, his promoter went belly up. That really left us twisting in the wind. He went from contender to opponent in the blink of an eye. It was a hard pill for us to swallow.”

Iglesias (10-0, 9 KOs) is viewed as a prospect to watch, already making an impression with just 10 fights. He knocked out Marcelo Coceres in one round, a fighter who dropped Edgar Berlanga and went several rounds with Diego Pacheco before being stopped. Before that, Iglesias, 26, defeated undefeated Artur Reis and holds a win over former contender Isaac Chilemba. With Iglesias in his fourth bout scheduled for 12 rounds, it is clear he is being fast-tracked toward the top of the division.

“Iglesias looks to be the goods,” Croft said. “The fortunate thing is Evgeny is the truth as well. He recently got married, has been somewhat active, and has settled into his spoiler role. Those factors have him in a better space mentally than he was before fighting Scull. The mental aspect is what makes Evgeny dangerous.”

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