Former light heavyweight titlist Oleksandr Gvozdyk hopes to inch closer to regaining his former perch after this coming Saturday.  

The California-based Ukrainian takes on Brazilian journeyman Isaac Rodrigues in an eight-round bout this Saturday night on the undercard of the undisputed 168-pound championship between Canelo Alvarez and challenger Jermell Charlo at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The bout marks Gvozdyk’s third this year and since he came out of retirement.

“The Nail” called it quits after getting stopped by Russian champion Artur Beterbiev in their IBF, WBC title unification fight in October of 2019 at Liacouras Center in Philadelphia. Beterbiev, who lives and trains in Montreal, has since added the WBO trinket to his wares.

Gvozdyk, whose career is currently guided by Eddy Reynoso, the trainer and manager of Alvarez, is hoping that he will be able to get into the title contention mix after a win over Rodrigues.

A rematch with Beterbiev or a fight with Dmitry Bivol, the WBA light heavyweight titlist, are top priorities for Gvozdyk. But he is also open to fighting the winner of an intriguing non-title 175-pound bout between Joshua Buatsi and Dan Azeez on Oct. 21 at The O2 Arena in London.  

“Listen, for now, I’m focusing 100% on my fight with Isaac Rodrigues, but right after, because I believe I’m gonna win this fight, I wanna fight the best,” Gvozdyk told ESNews. “I wanna fight Bivol, I wanna fight Beterbiev, I’m ready for them.

“I’m ready for the biggest names, Buatsi-Azeez, [Craig] Richards, who else? I’m ready for them.”

Gvozdyk (19-1, 15 KOs) fought for the first time in three years in February, when he outpointed overmatched Josue Obando in six rounds. He then followed that up, in May, with a sixth-round knockout of veteran Ricards Bolotniks.

Asked if he has any ambitions to move up to cruiserweight, Gvozdyk, 36, insisted he is “comfortable” at the weight he has been at his entire career.

“Right now I feel pretty comfortable at light heavyweight,” Gvozdyk said. “I wouldn’t say I was underweight, but I definitely feel I can go down to 168. Now I feel I’m comfortable at 175.”

Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.