By Mark Eisner: It’s official that WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs) and IBF 175 pound champion Artur Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs) will be facing each other in a unification fight on October 18 on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Top Rank made the announcement on Saturday night. The start time for the card is at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT.
Both guys are Olympians from Eastern Europe. Gvozdyk, 32, has the better pro resume than Beterbiev with an 11th round knockout win over former WBC champion Adonis Stevenson last December. However, Stevenson was 41-years-old, and was still beating Gvozdyk at the time that he was tragically stopped in the 11th.
Arum expects Gvozdyk-Beterbiev to be fight of the year
“This could very well be the fight of the year,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “These are two evenly matched, undefeated light heavyweight champions. There is nothing better in the sport of boxing.”
Beterbiev’s best wins as a pro have come against Radivoje Kalajdzic and Callum Johnson. You can argue that Beterbiev has better wins than Gvozdyk, given those guys were still young, and not in their 40s and coming off of a grueling draw against Badou Jack. Stevenson wasn’t the same fighter he once was by the time Gvozdyk fought him last year.
We interrupt tonight’s fights to bring you this important announcement:
A Light Heavyweight unification is set. @ABeterbiev faces Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk on Friday, Oct. 18 on @ESPN at Philadelphia’s @LiacourasCenter. #BeterbievNail37811:05 AM – Aug 18, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy172 people are talking about this
It’s believed that Gvozdyk’s trainer Teddy Atlas will have him fighting defensively through most of the early rounds like he did in his fight against Stevenson. Beterbiev, 34, is too powerful and accurate for Gvozdyk to try and slug with in the first half of the fight. Gvozdyk has already shown to have a vulnerable chin in hsi fights against Tommy Karpency and Mehdi Amar. Both guys had Gvozdyk stunned. Stevenson hurt Gvodyk in the 10th round, and had him falling into the ropes after he connected with a straight left to the head.READ Wallin questions Fury’s punch resistance after Wilder fight
Gvozdyk counting on trainer Teddy Atlas
“My first goal was to win a light heavyweight world title. Now, I want to unify the belts, and that mission starts with Artur Beterbiev,” Gvozdyksaid. “This is going to be a spectacular fight, one that the fans will enjoy. The fans asked for this fight, and we will deliver. One thing I know is that I will be the unified champion. I have the best trainer, Teddy Atlas, in my corner. This is our third fight together, and under his guidance, I will continue to get better,” said Gvozdyk.
It would be in Gvozdyk’s best interest to think for himself if things aren’t going well against Beterbiev rather than depending on Atlas. Gvozdyk could have lost the fight to Stevenson following Atlas’ game plan. It would have been better for Gvozdyk to have started a lot earlier in letting his hand go in that fight. Beterbiev isn’t likely to gas out in the later rounds, and he does well when his opponents come straight at him in blitzing style. Gvozdk could end up Beterbiev’s 15th knockout victim if he uses the game plan that he employed for the Stevenson fight.
Andre Ward has concerns about Gvozdyk.
The referee blew the call by failing to give Stevenson credit for a knockdown. It’s likely that Atlas will try the same game plan that he used against Stevenson for the Beterbiev fight. the thing is, the game plan was failing until the 11th round for Gvozdyk, so it wasn’t a great game plan. It led to Gvozyk falling behind in the fight. He can’t do that against Beterbiev, because if he waits until the 11th round, he could come up empty. Atlas will look bad for not having Gvozdyk try and exchange with Beterbiev earlier in the fight.READ Jose Ramirez signs multi-year extension with Top Rank
Beterbiev might be best puncher in 175 lb division
In Beterbiev’s two recent knockout victories over Kalajdzic and Callum Johnson, he looked powerful, and dangerous. The precise punching that Beterbiev did on the inside against both of those fighters is what did the job. It was a combination of power and precision punching that did those two fighters in. Gvozdyk is not a better puncher than Callum or Kalajdzic. Those two arguably punch harder than Gvozdyk, and there better knockout threats. Beterbiev handled them both well when they tried to slug with him. What makes Gvozdyk a good fighter is he boxes, and avoids taking punishment in his fights. Gvozdyk turns it on when he needs to against his opponents. We saw that in his wins over Stevenson, Isaac Chilemba, Yunieski Gonzalez and Doudou Ngumbu. Gvozdyk didn’t look that great in those fights, but he was able to take command of the matches once he turned it up.