Art 'Lionheart' Hovhannisyan headed for Shobox showdown

Thus far, Art "Lionheart" Hovhannisyan's road to boxing glory has been a bumpy one, slowed by a myriad of injuries and bout cancellations.

Still, the action fighter with an unbeaten record finds himself poised once more to knock down the door of opportunity and become a title contender.

Hovhannisyan is slated to fight Logan McGuinness on Feb. 22 in a “Shobox” main event with a possible World Boxing Assn. championship bout as the winner’s prize.

“We cannot be fighting the Joe Schmoes anymore,” said George Bastmajyan, Hovhannisyan’s manager and cut man. “We need a career-defining fight. This is it.”

Hovhannisyan (15-0-2, eight knockouts) will face McGuinness (19-0-1, nine KOs) in a 10-round super featherweight (130 pounds) bout at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon.

According to Bastmajyan, by next week it should be determined by the WBA if the bout will be a title eliminator for the right to face champion Takashi Uchiyama.

Nonetheless, the bout is another step in the right direction to contendership status for Hovhannisyan, a hard-charging fighter, whose hard-training style and just some bad luck have led to a share of hand injuries over the years for the 31-year-old Armenian native.

“This is the only direction we can go,” Bastmajyan said.

McGuinness, 27, is a Canadian native ranked fifth in the super featherweight division by the WBA and also holds the North American Boxing Assn. title. McGuinness will make just his second appearance in a United States ring after a six-round draw in Connecticut in 2010. Other than single bouts in Ireland and the United Kingdom, McGuinness’ fights have all been in Canada.

Trained by Edmond Tarverdyan at the Glendale Fighting Club, Hovhannisyan most recently had his debut on HBO fall through. That was coming on the heels of a split decision win over Miguel Acosta in July of 2012. The Acosta bout was also on Showtime, as was a knockout victory over the previously undefeated Archie Ray Marquez in June of 2011 that was likely Hovhannisyan’s most impressive performance to date.

His camp is hoping, and confident, that changes against McGuinness.

“We are very confident,” Bastmajyan said. “Art is very confident.”

“We don’t overlook any opponents, but this should not be a problem for us.”

The bout begins a two-day span that will be monumental in the local fighting scene and most notably for the GFC.

Tarverdyan, who’s been getting assistance with Hovhanissyan’s training from former Glendale standout boxer William Abelyan, also trains Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and UFC featherweight fighter Manny Gamburyan.

The day after Hovhannisyan’s bout, Rousey will headline UFC 157 from Anaheim when she faces Liz Carmouche in the first-ever UFC women’s bout for Rousey’s title. On the same card, Gamburyan will take on Chad Mendes in a matchup of former featherweight title contenders.

Bastmajyan also said GFC boxer Gapo Tolmajyan might also fight on the Feb. 22 Showtime undercard.

So, for Hovhannisyan and his Glendale Fighting Club stablemates, the last weekend of February may indeed be a weekend of career-defining fights.

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