David Benavidez to fight Oleksandr Gvozdyk at 175 pounds in June

David Benavidez will move up to light heavyweight for a June fight against Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Benavidez announced via social media Thursday.

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said the fight would be contested for the interim light heavyweight title, which would place the winner in position for a bout against the winner of the undisputed title bout between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol on June 1.

Benavidez, ESPN's No. 2 super middleweight, delivered a career-best campaign in 2023. The 27-year-old former champion scored a unanimous decision win over Caleb Plant in March and followed with a sixth-round stoppage of Demetrius Andrade.

The two victories over former champions left fans clamoring for a bout between Benavidez and boxing's top star, Canelo Alvarez, who holds the undisputed super middleweight championship.

Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs) has lobbied for the matchup, but so far, Alvarez has other plans. He will return May 4, but an opponent has not been decided yet.

It won't be Benavidez, who makes a long-discussed jump to 175 pounds while he waits for a future bout with Alvarez. A large super middleweight at 6-foot-2, Benavidez possesses one of the sport's best motors and is on the cusp of pound-for-pound recognition.

If he can't land a fight with Alvarez, a matchup with either Beterbiev or Bivol would serve as an attractive consolation prize. In the meantime, Benavidez must turn back Gvozdyk and will be heavily favored to do so.

Ukraine's Gvozdyk (20-1, 16 KOs) is a former light heavyweight champion, a title he won with a 10th-round KO over division stalwart Adonis Stevenson in 2018.

Gvozdyk announced his retirement in June 2020, eight months after he was stopped in round 10 of a light heavyweight title unification bout against Beterbiev.

Gvozdyk endured a two-night hospital stay after the TKO loss. He returned to the ring last February, 40 months after the loss to Beterbiev. Gvozdyk's three victories during the comeback have come against domestic-level opposition as he works his way back.

His last fight was a second-round KO victory over a Brazilian journeyman on the Alvarez-Jermell Charlo undercard in September. Gvozdyk's previous fight was in May underneath Alvarez's victory over John Ryder in Guadalajara.

And when Alvarez fought Dmitry Bivol in May 2022, Gvozdyk was one of his sparring partners. Now, Gvozdyk is the man standing in the way of a Benavidez-Alvarez fight.