“I told everyone, Canelo's second to last fight on the DAZN deal, that it would be with Evgeny Shvedenko (15-0) in the other corner,” said Eddie Croft, Evgeny Shvedenko's head trainer, in his B. Street Boxing Gym nearly three years ago
Now, if Shvedenko wins this weekend, that statement has a chance to become a reality as Shvedenko will be fighting William Scull for the IBF super-middleweight mandatory shot. The belt is currently held by Canelo Alvarez.
Where is the fight being held? Why, it will be held at the Stadtwerke Arena in Erding, Bayern, Germany, on Saturday, July 2nd. Any way to watch it in the U.S.? Probably not. Let's be honest, most people won't pay attention to Evgeny vs. William Scull, and the lack of distribution won't help. Is that right? No! Why?
Without a major American or U.K. promoter forcing either guy down our throat with promotion round the clock, it seemingly looks like yet another regional talent fighting for a #1 contender spot. A Felix Strum, Jack Culcay, or an Arthur Abraham, someone who will be good, but I won't go out of my way to watch until I have to. Add to the fact that if you're not a die-hard boxing person, we have just a lot of boxing coming at us every week – it is hard to synthesize it and prioritize what to watch along with living a constructive and healthy life.
I am here to say – if you can see Shvedenko, you should. He has been building up to this point, holding a win over a former light heavyweight world title contender Nadjib Mohammedi, but more so, it is the friendship he has built with his coach and boxing mentor, Eddie Croft. This is everything the two have been building up to in their professional career and, to a certain extent, their life.
Croft, a famed fighter in his own right, owns a boxing gym in San Mateo, Ca, the aforementioned B. St Boxing Gym, and was a secret weapon in Andre Berto's resurgence prior to Berto landing the Floyd Mayweather fight, as well as Levan Ghvamichava's slew of knockout wins that led to his fight with Sergey Lipinets.
That being said, Croft spoke the praise of Shvedenko. Labeling him as his first world champion who worked in silence for the most part. Not unlike Jerry Capobianco, the head trainer of Joe Smith Jr., taking pride in having a world champion with his fighter, Croft wants the thing that has eluded him in his boxing career: a world title.
As a fighter, Croft seemed destined for one but fell into an era with a few all-time greats that stood in the way, such as Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. As a trainer, he is viewed as one of the best but just hasn't had the fighter that checked all the boxes needed to get to the big show. That was until he met Evgeny.
Shvedenko seems to be the missing piece to the elusive prize Croft has always coveted.
Shvedenko who explained to me years prior that he grew up getting into street fights, but his adult brother told him to try boxing. At first, he didn't love it – as he explained, it was a hard sport. That didn't last long though, as Shvedenko, a fifteen-year amateur, rose up the ranks and inevitably turned professional.
Yet, it wasn't until Shvedenko came to America and met Eddie Croft that he began to believe in himself. “I am only feeling confident when I came to America,” said Shvedenko reflecting on his boxing journey. “When my coach here, Eddie, [got me] to believe in myself. It was the first time I felt confidence in America.” For Croft, who has been overseas in Europe with Shvedenko for over a month now, the journey must seem like a sprint. As years of letting people know who good Shvedenko is come to fruition this weekend.
Thinking back on how the two met, a long-time gym member and great amateur boxer, Eden Leznik, and his father, Alex Leznik, the co-owners of Grodex boxing equipment brand, asked Croft if he had an interest in training any Russian or Ukrainian fighters. Without hesitation, Croft said “yes.”
A week or so later, Shvedenko was at the San Mateo, California boxing gym. “I really try to connect with all of my fighters because it really helps in a fight when things are getting tough,” said Croft when asked about getting to know Shvedenko. Yet, the way Croft observed the positives and negatives of Shvedenko's shadow boxing had the world-class boxer interested in working with Croft full-time.
Eddie Croft is one of the best boxing minds I have ever met, yet the boxing mainstream media never mentions his name, let alone gives him praise. If I were to call him, he would see something in a fight in ten seconds I didn't. Talking to him has made me better at watching and speaking about boxing.
I talked to Croft during the amateurs in the winter, and when watching a fight – he saw a key element of a fighter's style in just a few seconds. You should never cheer for people when you help guide the viewer for fights, but I am cheering for Eddie since he deserves more than what the sport of boxing has given him thus far, in my opinion.
The two, Shvedenko and Croft, have built a bond. Shvedenko is a no-nonsense, old-school fighter, one who sees himself as a world champion and nothing less and found a home with Croft, who is giving Shvedenko everything he has and more. Yet, William Scull is not showing up to lose. Scull has fought in Germany since 2019 and is a Cuban boxer who looks to spoil the evening for anyone cheering for Shvedenko.
Scull replaces Caleb Truax, who was supposed to fight Shvedenko on two different occasions, as Aidos Yerbossynuly, the original mandatory went a separate direction for world title contention. The bout which seems relevant is not available as far as I know in America as it is the Fourth of July weekend, which means people are going to be outside, and not watching TV – or at least that's probably what TV executives think. Add to it that the fight will probably happen at 6 PM EST / 3 PM PST, and it isn't in the ideal time slot for a fist fight either.
Still, Canelo is kind of a big deal, and though Canelo will probably vacate the belt before defending it against Shvedenko – it still seems very important for the sport as a whole to have a grasp on this fight, as the winner will be in a world title fight.
Shvedenko has been the secret weapon for many camps taking place at the prestigious SNAC System private gym, run by Victor Conte, as Shvedenko was brought in to assist Vanes Martirosyan prior to his fight with Gennadiy Golovkin, sparring Edgar Berlanga and Sergiy Derevyanchenko as well, when Derevyanchenko prepared for Gennadiy Golovkin, on one of the last bouts on HBO Boxing.
All of which have built him for this point.
People often ask me, “why do you follow the undercard guys?” – the views aren't the same; why not just look at the top of the card?
It is two-fold. One the better fights are often on the undercards, in my opinion, and secondly, the movie-like stories unfold in real-time when you see it from the ground up, and that is what this is.
A great boxing trainer and a great boxer looking to make a name on the world stage together. If you were to ask Croft years ago that his most world-renown prizefighter was a Russian, I am sure he'd look at you rather shocked – but that might be how it turns out. Whether we can see it or not, you should be aware of Shvedenko, and his famed coach, Eddie Croft, who look to grant themselves a chance at greatness, and boxing immortality this weekend.