By Mark Eisner: Top Rank is working on finalizing a unification fight between IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev and WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk for the fall on ESPN, according to Mike Coppinger. The winner of the Beterbiev vs. Gvozdyk will hold two of the four world titles at 175, and it’ll put them in a great position in negotiating further unification matches.
The two-time Russian Olympian Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs) has arguably been avoided by the other top fighters in the 175 pound division. Gvozdyk would give the 34-year-old Beterbiev his first big fight of his six-year pro career. Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs) would be an excellent match-up for Beterbiev.
It would be one of those classic 50-50 match-ups between two huge punchers from Eastern Europe. Both guys have Olympic experience, and both of them avoided by the other top guys.
Beterbiev vs. Gvozdyk = great value on ESPN
“Sources tell @TheAthleticBOX Top Rank is in the process of finalizing a fall light heavyweight title unification bout between Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Artur Beterbiev on an ESPN platform. Terrific matchup that will go a long way toward determining light heavyweight supremacy,” said @MikeCoppinger.
Beterbiev has recent wins over Radivoje Kalajdzic and Callum Johnson. Those impressive performances by Beterbiev with him dispatching two big punchers in Kalajdzic and Callum. Beterbiev took some big shots by both guys, but he was able to prevail with his relentless pressure that he put on them.
Gvozdyk, 32, has looked great lately in defeating Doudou Ngumbu, Adonis Stevenson andMehdi Amar. He’s raised his game in his last two fights against Stevenson and Ngumbu. However, it’s still going to be hard for Gvozdyk to handle the punching power of Beterbiev.
Beterbiev will need to apply massive pressure to win
As we saw in Gvozdyk’s victory over Stevenson, he’s going to stand and fight Beterbiev in the first eight rounds. Gvozdyk will use movement, and look to make it difficult for Beterbiev to have a stationary target to land his big shots. We likely won’t see Gvozdyk going on the attack until the championship rounds, when Beterbiev isn’t as energetic and powerful. That’s how Gvozdyk fought Stevenson. He gave up the majority of the first nine rounds, and then came on late to score a stoppage in the 11th.
Gvozdyk is good friends with Oleksandr Usyk, who is known as a finesse fighter. Usyk beat Beterbiev by a controversial 17-13 decision in the 2012 Olympics. He eventually went on to win the Gold medal in that Olympics. Usyk used a lot of fencing movements in jabbing and moving to score points. Beterbiev landed the harder, cleaner landing shots, but amateur boxing is a different sport. It’s more like fencing with swords than punching.
The judges score points for fighters that land stabbing jabs, and don’t weigh the power shots as being more valuable. In the pros, it’s the complete opposite. Usyk would have lost to Beterbiev if in the same fight in the pros. Never the less, Gvozdyk will likely box Beterbiev until late in the fight. It could be dull until then. Gvozdyk used a lot of movement to avoid Stevenson’s pressure until the 10th round.
Beterbiev has the style to win
It’s going to be more complicated for Gvozdyk to attempt the same approach against Beterbiev that he used against Stevenson, because he doesn’t have a lot of ring wear on him. He’s also a better inside fighter than Stevenson was when he fought Gvozdyk. As such, if Gvozdyk uses movement to avoid Beterbiev in the first 10 rounds, he’ll fall behind, and end up losing. It would be better for Gvozdyk to be more aggressive, because he can’t let Beterbiev whitewash him through the first 10 rounds. Beterbiev is obviously going to be aware of Gvozdyk trying to wade him out, so he’s not going to be surprised when he tries to come on late.