By Jeff Aranow: Artur Beterbiev says he’s now signed a contract to face Oleksandr Gvozdyk in a unification fight with their IBF and WBC light heavyweight titles on the line on October 18. The Beterbiev vs. Gvozdyk fight will take place on Top Rank Boxing on ESPN. The fight will be taking place in the United States at a still to be determined venue.
This is a massive fight between two of the best fighters in the 175 pound weight division in unbeaten IBF champ Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs) and WBC champion Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs). It was made possible due to both fighters being signed with Top Rank.
Beterbiev breaks the news about his fight with Gvozdyk
“Good news! I signed a contract for unification fight with Oleksandr Gvozdyk @alex_gvozdyk for #IBF and #WBC belts. The bout will be on 18 October, USA,” said Artur Beterbiev on his Instagram social media site.
Gvozdyk has wins over Adonis Stevenson, Isaac Chilemba, Doudou Ngumbu, Mehdi Amar, Yunieski Gonzalez, Tommy Karpency and Nadjib Mohammedi. Gvozdyk’s fight with former WBC 175 pound champion Stevenson ended tragically with Adonis collapsing after the fight, and going into a coma. Stevenson suffered a blood clot on the brain from the fight. He survived, but his career ended with the fight.
Gvozdyk fought passively through the first 10 rounds against Stevenson, and looked poor. After 10 rounds, Gvozdyk was on his way to losing to the 41-year-old Adonis. Things looked bleak for Gvozdyk until he went on the attack in he early part of the 11th round, and got Stevenson out of there.READ Teofimo Lopez ready for Masayoshi Nakatani this Friday on ESPN+
Beterbiev vs. Gvozdyk winner will have a lot options
Both guys are Olympians, and huge punchers. Gvozdyk, 32, won a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics for Ukraine, while Beterbiev fought in two Olympics in 2008 and 2012. He was eliminated in fights that were a lot closer than the scores handed in by the judges.
The winner of the Beterbiev vs. Gvozdyk fight will have a lot of great options for matches. WBO champion Sergey Kovalev would be an ideal opponent for the winner of the Beterbiev-Gvozdyk fight, but Sergey could be facing Saul Canelo Alvarez later this year. Kovalev first needs to defend his WBO 175 pound title against his mandatory Anthony Yarde on August 24 in Russia. If Kovalev wins that fight, he’ll likely be facing Canelo next. Canelo hasn’t talked of wanting to fight Beterbiev or Gvozyk. He’s just interested in fighting Kovalev for obvious reasons.
Kovalev will be an option to face the winner of the Beterbiev vs. Gvozdyk fight next year in 2020. Former WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez will probably be the guy that Top Rank puts in with the winner of the Beterbiev-Gvozdyk fight.
The winner of the Beterbiev vs. Gvozdyk fight will have these options available to them:
- Sergey Kovalev
- Gilberto Ramirez
- Dmitry Bivol
- Saul Canelo Alvarez
- Callum Smith
- Marcus Browne
- Badou Jack
WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol would be an excellent opponent for Beterbiev or Gvozdyk to fight. The only question is would be it be a match that Top Rank can make? Bivol is one of those technical fighters that makes it tough on his opponents to land their shots on a consistent enough basis to beat him. He might be more trouble than he’s worth right now for Top Rank to risk putting Beterbiev or Gvozdyk in with him.READ Joyce vs. Jennings: Bryant won’t lay down for Joe
Gvozdyk will likely be the favorite
Based on Gvozdyk’s win over Adonis Stevenson last December, many boxing fans will see him as being too much for Beterbiev. What people are forgetting is the age of Stevenson at the time that he fought Gvozdyk. The Canadian based former world champion was 41 at the time he fought Gvozdyk, and he was coming off of a grueling match against Badou Jack in May 2018.
This wasn’t the same Stevenson that destroyed Tony Bellew in six rounds in 2013. Stevenson had lost a lot from his game by the time he fought Gvozdyk last year, as one would expect from a fighter that age.
What we can take from the Stevenson-Gvozdyk fight is the fact that Gvozdyk was behind on two of the judges’ scorecards going into the 11th round. The scores were 98-92 and 96-94 in favor of Stevenson going into round 11.
The scores should have been wider, because the referee Michael Griffin failed to score a knockdown in the 10th when Stevenson nailed Gvozdyk with a shot that sent him flying into the ropes. The ropes held Gvozdyk up, but the referee failed to make the call.
Beterbiev will need to pressure Gvozdyk to win
Gvozdyk’s trainer Teddy Atlas will likely put together a similar game plan for Beterbiev that they did for the Adonis Stevenson fight, but will it work?. Atlas will have Gvozdyk boxing mostly, avoiding the big shots from Beterbiev in the first 10 rounds, and then have him go on the attack in rounds 11 and 12 in hopes of scoring a knockout.READ Rob Brant vs. Ryota Murata II preview for July 12 on ESPN+
That’s a game plan that will lead to Gvozdyk falling badly behind in the fight, as he did against Stevenson, and it could end badly for him. It’s not going to work against Beterbiev though, because he’s not 41, and he’s not coming off of a grueling fight against Badou Jack. It’s different circumstances entirely, but that’s not going to stop Atlas from reusing the same game plan. But it’s clear thought that Gvozdyk will box most of the fight, and attempt to turn it on at the end in a sudden all out attack.
Beterbiev won’t be surprised by this approach, because he’ll have seen Gvozdyk’s fight with Stevenson. Atlas would be making a mistake if he has Gvozdyk attacking Beterbiev in the first half of the fight, because he’s got a chin problem. We’ve seen Gvozdyk get hurt by Tommy Karpency and Mehdi Amar, and it’s clear that his punch resistance isn’t what it needs to be to beat a big puncher in a war. That’s why Atlas will likely put together a finesse game plan for Gvozdyk, and then have him go on the attack late. Atlas is an easy trainer to predict.