By Kenneth Friedman: Artur Beterbiev and Oleksandr Gvozdyk have 25 days to go before they meet up on October 18 in a light heavyweight unification match on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10:00 p.m.. ET. Undefeated IBF 175-lb champion Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs) and WBC champ Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs) will be fighting at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.
This is a match-up that boxing fans have been looking forward to for ages, and finally it’s happening. Beterbiev and Gvozdyk are past Olympians, and talented beyond measure. The winner of the Beterbiev-Gvozdyk fight could ultimately be the #1 fighter at 175, and that’s saying a lot.
Beterbiev vs. Gvozdyk unification
The unification fight between the unbeaten light heavyweight champions Beterbiev and Gvozdyk will go a long ways towards proving who the top dog is at 175. The winner of the fight is expected to face WBA champion Dmitry Bivol, and possibly WBO champ Sergey Kovalev if he holds onto his title. Kovalev is facing Saul Canelo Alvarez on November 2 in title defense.
If Canelo wins the WBO belt from Kovalev, he’s not likely to keep it. This fight for Canelo is a legacy building fight, and not a case of the Mexican star wanting to compete long term at 175. As such, the Beterbiev vs. Gvozdyk winner will need to wait until someone wins the vacated WBO belt if/when Canelo vacates it. That could take months unfortunately.
“This is a tremendous lineup of fights that Top Rank is bringing to ESPN and ESPN+ in the fall,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “You have young superstars and established champions in the toughest fights of their careers. It doesn’t get better than that. When it’s all said and done, new superstars are going to emerge.”
Beterbiev mowing down opposition
Two-time Olympian Beterbiev has looked unstoppable as of late in beating Radivoje Kalajdzic, Callum Johnson and Enrico Koelling. Despite missing a lot of time in the last three years due to injuries and promotional problems, Beterbiev has looked sharp recently with his wins over Johnson and Kalajdzic. He knocked both of those guys out, and looked devastating doing it.
After Beterbiev’s recent 5th round knockout victory over Kalajdzic last May, it’s become clear that he needs to face the other world champions at 175 to find someone that can give him a tough test. It’s interesting that Saul Canelo Alvarez didn’t hand-pick Beterbiev to fight. Canelo would have showed immense bravery in taking on the two-time Russian Olympian.
Gvozdyk possesses skills to beat Beterbiev
The 34-year-old Beterbiev hasn’t lost a fight since his narrow 17-13 defeat to Oleksandr Usyk in the 2012 Olympics in London. Gvozdyk has a lot of the same boxing skills that Usyk possessed in 2012, and this could be a difficult fight for Beterbiev. This a fight that Beterbiev will need to find another gear to his game for him to win, because he can’t count on blasting Gvozdyk like he’s done with his other opposition he’s faced as a pro.
Gvozdyk is elusive with his mobility. He’s not going to stand in front of Beterbiev, and punch with him 100% of the time. What we’ll see from Gvozdyk is him turning on his offense periodically, and then boxing from the outside.
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— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) September 20, 2019