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Oleksandr Gvozdyk beats Doudou Ngumbu, but NOT the way he wanted

by: Joseph Santoliquito - posted on: 31-Mar-2019

Philadelphia, Pa. -- Oleksandr "The Nail" Gvozdyk wanted a little more. The defending WBC light heavyweight champion thought he deserved it, after he survived Adonis Stevenson in a grueling give-and-take duel in December 2018, which resulted in Stevenson being hospitalized with a catastrophic brain injury that impaired him for months.

It looks as if Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 knockouts) is going to have to wait for some gratifying post-fight satisfaction.

In his first title defense, he stopped challenger Doudou Ngumbu (38-9, 14 KOs) at :58 of the fifth round Saturday night from the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia, on a fight televised on ESPN.

What Gvozdyk didn't expect was how he won the fight. Ngumbu suffered possibly a torn right Achilles tendon that prematurely ended the fight—and left Gvozdyk, "The Nail," quite unfulfilled.

He wanted to put on a show and as the fifth began, Gvozdyk felt as if he was just finding his rhythm. That's when Ngumbu pulled back about a minute into the round and began limping. Referee Eric Dali rushed over to address the issue, and the ringside doctors were called over to look at Ngumbu's lower right leg.

That's when it was determined Ngumbu couldn't continue. Dali waved it over and the packed house, filled with mostly Ukrainians, left disappointed.

As did Gvozdyk.

He probably did more work trying to appease the fans, many draped in Ukrainian yellow and blue, with autographs and selfies for about 40 minutes in the ring after the fight.

What was clear is that Gvozdyk felt shortchanged.

"I'm satisfied I won, I keep my title, but how it happened I'm definitely not satisfied with," Gvozdyk said. "The people that came here aren't happy, and it's important to make your fans happy."

"I tried to do my best. It's not my fault. I think the guy just came to get a paycheck; I don't know. I didn't want to insult him, but maybe something happened. I don't know.

"I hurt him or something like that."

The Ukrainian light heavyweight bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympics was robbed of any post-fight celebration.

"This is the second time something screwed up my celebration, but the first time (after the Stevenson fight), I knew only in the morning. I did have a lot of time to celebrate. This time, I'm happy I keep my title. It's not my fault.

"If the fight went longer, it would have been more exciting."

Gvozdyk controlled the early rounds, though couldn't land anything substantial on the 37-year-old Ngumbu, who suffered a torn right Achilles injury with 2:01 showing on the clock in the fifth round.

A pair of Philly fighters did well, with welterweight southpaw Ray Robinson (24-3-1, 12 KOs) getting a 10-round majority draw against "Mean Machine" Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs). Much was expected of Kavaliauskas, an amateur star who was a two-time Olympian from Lithuania. But he hasn't looked good in two of his last three fights.

Also, rising Philly heavyweight Sonny Conto (2-0, 2 KOs) won again, dismantling Omar Acosta (1-6, 1 KO) in the first round of a scheduled four-round heavyweight fight.

"This was better than my debut," Conto said. "I was more poised and patient. My team told me I needed to be patient and control the fight with my jab, which is what I did.

"It's coming. I'll fight better fighters. Whoever they put in front of me I won't underestimate. I'll leave it in Top Rank's hands and keep training."

Conto already has his next date: June 15, in Las Vegas on the Tyson Fury-Tom Schwartz undercard at the Thomas & Mack Center. That will be a first for Conto, since he's never previously been to Las Vegas.

Conto, tall and athletic, bears watching in the future.