It's time for every light heavyweight in the world - including Sergey Kovalev, Andre Ward and Adonis Stevenson - to start looking over their shoulder, because Oleksandr Gvozdyk is coming.
The 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist for Ukraine made a major statement in his latest ring appearance, twice dropping veteran trialhorse Yunieski Gonzalez en route to a 3rd round knockout Saturday evening at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Expectations heading in were for Gvozdyk to take the next step toward becoming a light heavyweight contender following a career-best 8th round injury stoppage of Isaac Chilemba last November. Even by manager Egis Klimas' accelerated standards of moving his boxers quickly, Gvozdyk performed far above and beyond the scouting report, boxing early but seizing the moment once he saw the opportunity for an early night.
"My plan was to wait a little bit and be more active in the later rounds," Gvozdyk admitted to HBO's Max Kellerman after the bout. "But I saw the chance to hurt him and finish him."
It all began with the jab, and Gvozdyk threw 150 of them among his 256 total punches in less than three full rounds of action. Gonzalez is known as a tough out for the middle-of-the-pack in the light heavyweight division, but the Cuban boxer couldn't get anything going here. Once he took a risk, it was all that was needed for his unbeaten foe to transition from boxer to finisher.
"I was ready for pressure and I was ready for moving," Gvozdyk said of his intended early strategy to stay out of the way of Gonzalez' right hand. "When I felt he was in danger, I just stood in front of him and stopped him."
Gonzalez was decked hard in round three, but bravely made it to his feet. He wasn't as lucky when a right hand shot put him down face first later in the frame. Referee Harvey Dock seemed ready to stop the contest, with that decision made easier once Gonzalez' corner climbed the ring apron with surrender flag in tow.
Gvozdyk cruises to 13-0 (11KOs) and - just three years into his pro career - is already looking to face the very best the next time he steps into the ring.
"Yes i feel that I'm ready," Gvozdyk said of fighting for a world title. "I'm just waiting for the opportunity to fight for the title."
Ward and Kovalev will square off in a rematch in June, with the winner to gain universal recognition as the best light heavyweight in the world.
That's the guy that Gvozdyk wants - even if it means facing his managerial stablemate, as both he and Kovalev fight under Klimas' guidance.
"I don't prefer to fight against Kovalev, but will do so if I have to," promised Gvozdyk.
The bout served as the televised co-feature to Vasyl Lomachenko's super featherweight title defense versus Jason Sosa.