Oleksandr Gvozdyk, a fast-rising light heavyweight contender coming off impressive back-to-back knockout wins against top opposition, will take on Craig Baker in his next outing, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN on Tuesday.
Gvozdyk, a 30-year-old who is closing in on a mandatory world title shot, and Baker will square off in a scheduled 10-round bout that will serve as the ESPN-televised co-feature for the Terence Crawford-Julius Indongo undisputed junior welterweight world championship fight on Aug. 19 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska, a short drive from Crawford’s hometown of Omaha.
Television coverage of the card, which also will air live on ESPN Deportes and stream live on the ESPN app, begins at 10 p.m. ET.
In his most recent fight, Gvozdyk (13-0, 11 KOs), a 2012 Ukrainian Olympic bronze medalist, smoked contender Yunieski Gonzalez in the third round on April 8. Before that, he dominated former longtime contender and world title challenger Isaac Chilemba in an eighth-round knockout in November on the undercard of the first Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev bout.
Baker is a step down from those opponents, but Moretti said finding a top available light heavyweight willing to face Gvozdyk for the money available was impossible. Moretti said he was pleased Baker was willing to fight Gvozdyk.
“Gvozdyk needs to sustain the momentum he has garnered over the last couple of fights,” Moretti said. “He can’t afford a letdown here on national TV.”
Baker (17-1, 13 KOs), 33, of Baytown, Texas, won his first 16 fights, boxing mainly as a cruiserweight, before suffering a third-round knockout loss in a light heavyweight bout with fringe contender Edwin Rodriguez in May 2015.
Following a 13-month layoff, Baker returned to score an eighth-round knockout of then-undefeated Steve Lovett. But another long layoff ensued. Baker will be coming off a 14-month layoff when he faces Gvozdyk.
“Baker has bounced back nicely after his loss to Edwin Rodriguez with a win over undefeated Steve Lovett,” Moretti said.
If a third bout makes the Aug. 19 ESPN telecast, Moretti said it would feature 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson (2-0, 1 KO), 20, of Newark, New Jersey, who is slated to face an opponent to be determined in a six-round bout.