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Artur Beterbiev vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk unification clash this Friday LIVE on ESPN

Artur Beterbiev

By Barry Holbrook: IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev had the media laughing during a meet & greet this week in Philadelphia in talking about his unification fight this Friday night against WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk at the Liacouras Center.

Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs) briefly spoke about his only encounter in facing Gvozdyk in 2009 in a fight that left his Ukrainian opponent with a broken nose. The fight was stopped in the 2nd round with Beterbiev winning.

On Friday night on October 18, Beterbiev and Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs) will be facing each other in a unification match in the 175-lb division. The match will be shown on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 10 p.m. ET.

Beterbiev talks about his previous fight with Gvozdyk

“Yes, we had a fight in the amateurs,” said Beterbiev about his match against Gvozdyk in the amateurs in 2009. “I remember this fight, but I think he more remembers this fight. He tells the media that I broke his nose. I didn’t know that. We’re both champions. It’s a new story, and a new fight. I think it’ll be a great fight. I never focus on the knockout, and I just try to do my best.

Gvozdyk has come a long way since that fight, and he may prove to be a more difficult opponent for Beterbiev. There’s no telling how this match will turn out. What we’ve seen from Gvozdyk as a pro is the fact that he can be hurt by even non-punchers. Tommy Karpency and Mehdi Amar both had Gvozdyk in trouble in their fights.

Given Gvozdyk’s fragile mandible, it’s important that he stay out of range of Beterbiev’s big shots as much as possible on Friday night. However, Gvozdyk can’t afford to wait until the 11th round to start mixing it up with Beterbiev, because he’ll fall too far behind in the fight to make up the difference on the scorecards.

Against 41-year-old Adonis Stevenson, Gvozdyk was able to let him dominate the fight for the first 10 rounds before coming on in the 11th to knock him out. That’s not a good idea for Gvozdyk to try that approach with Beterbiev. If Gvozdyk starts slowly, he may not be around in the second half of the fight to try and come on. Beterbiev will dispatch Gvozdyk early just like he did his last two opponents Radivoje Kalajdzic and Callum Smith.

Arum excited about Beterbiev vs. Gvozdyk fight and fall lineup

“This is a tremendous lineup of fights that Top Rank is bringing to ESPN and ESPN+ in the fall,” said Top Rank head honcho 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.”

It’s going to be difficult for Gvozdyk, 32, to win this fight the way he’s been doing. Running around the ring won’t work well against Beterbiev, because he cuts off the ring well. Gvozdyk isn’t effective when he moves. It’s unclear if that’s a tactic his trainer Teddy Atlas has advised him to use in his fights.

In the past, Gvozdyk was a better fighter when he would engage with his opponents, because he’s got the size and power to stop anyone in the division. But his new style of fighting is really negative, and wasteful. Oleksandr’s new style of fighting has Atlas written all over it. Hopefully, Gvozdyk makes a fight of it on Friday, and doesn’t give the match away by playing possum in the first 10 rounds, and letting Beterbiev build up a huge lead.

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