Boxing Odds and Ends: The Return of ‘The Nail,' Right Hook Roxy and More


You undoubtedly missed it, but Oleksandr Gvozdyk returned to the ring last Saturday after an absence of 40 months and pitched a shutout over Mexican trial horse Josue Obando, elevating his record to 18-1 (14). Gvozdyk vs. Obando was a six-round affair contested before a few hundred fans at an off-track betting facility at the Pomona (CA) Fairgrounds.

A bronze medalist on the vaunted 2012 Ukrainian Olympic Team that included Oleksandr Usyk and Vasyl Lomachenko, Gvozdyk, now 35 years old, captured the WBC world light heavyweight title in 2018 with an 11[SUP]th[/SUP]-round stoppage of Adonis Stevenson in Quebec City, Canada. Nicknamed “The Nail,” he made one defense before losing the belt to IBF counterpart Artur Beterbiev in a unification fight in Philadelphia. Beterbiev knocked him down three times in the 10th frame, forcing the referee to waive it off. Gvozdyk was ahead on two of the cards through the completed rounds but it was plain that he was wilting.

Gvozdyk put Adonis Stevenson in the hospital and with a push from his Hall of Fame trainer Teddy Atlas, he checked himself into the hospital after his setback to Beterbiev. He passed a battery of tests, but was so shaken that he stepped away from the sport, saying that he intended to build on the relationships that he had established in boxing to carve out a career in business without specifying what field of business he planned to pursue.

Gvozdyk, however, left boxing in name but not in spirit and reportedly stayed in shape during his hiatus by working out at a gym near his adopted home in the California seaside community of Oxnard. He has made it known that he would welcome a rematch with Beterbiev or a bout with Dmitry Bivol who he defeated as an amateur. Whether he links up again with Atlas remains to be seen although the two remain good friends.

Right Hook Roxy

A BLK Prime press release announcing the pro debut of Iyana Verduzco mentions that her opponent, Jessica Emerick, is undefeated. That’s absolutely true. Ms. Emerick is 1-0-1.

Verduzco, a San Fernando, California “Valley Girl” who is trained by her mother Gloria Alvarado Mosquera, had an outstanding amateur background, having won her first national tournament at the age of 12. However, it’s a fair guess that her reputed amateur record, 101-6, was manufactured from thin air.


Iyana Verduzco

The 21-year-old, five-foot-three Verduzco, a southpaw who will begin her pro career as a featherweight, is the niece of MMA legend Benny “The Jet” Urquidez. Sporting the nickname “Right Hook Roxy” (her middle name is Roxanie) she enters the pro game with a ready-made fan base having cultivated a following on social media. Her forthcoming fight adds gloss to the undercard of the Feb. 25 show in Atlanta headlined by the match between Adrien Broner and Michael Williams Jr.

“The Chosen One”

Edgar Berlanga didn’t wait long to find a new promoter after parting ways with Top Rank last month. Yesterday (Feb. 14) it was announced that Berlanga had signed a multi-fight deal with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom.

A 25-year-old super middleweight, nicknamed The Chosen One, Berlanga was the breakout star of the Pandemic Era, scoring three electrifying knockouts inside the MGM Bubble, advancing his string of first-round knockouts to 16 at the start of his career. The skein was broken in his next fight, an 8-rounder with Demond Nicholson, and he was extended the 10-round distance in each of his next three fights. He remains undefeated at 20-0, but it appeared that he had hit the wall and in terms of continued growth.

In a conversation with ESPN’s Mike Coppinger to announce that he was a free agent, Berlanga noted that he had sold out the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden (vs. Steve Rolls in his 19th pro fight) and said, “I’ve set a goal for myself to sell out the big room at MSG and throw the biggest party at The Garden that Puerto Rican fans have ever seen.”


In announcing his new affiliation with Matchroom, Berlanga said, “My main goal is to land the Canelo [Alvarez] fight and renew the greatest rivalry in boxing – Mexico vs. Puerto Rico.”

Matchroom CEO Eddie Hearn promotes Canelo who is reportedly close to inking a deal to fight England’s John Ryder on Cinco de Mayo Weekend in Jalisco, Mexico.