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Artur Beterbiev vs Oleksandr Gvozdyk fight preview: One of boxing’s best matchups of 2019

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Two champions fight for light heavyweight unification in one of the year’s best boxing matchups.

On Friday, October 18th, Philadelphia plays host to a light heavyweight unification bout between WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs) and IBF champion Artur Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs). It is a great, very intriguing and tough to predict match up between two legitimate top fighters that should pique the interest of any combat sports fan.

Ukraine’s Gvozdyk took his WBC belt from then lineal champion Adonis Stevenson back in December and has since defended it with a 5th round injury TKO against Doudou Ngumbu. Beterbiev won the vacant IBF belt against Enrico Koelling in November of 2017 and has defended it twice since.

Gvozdyk is a very skilled technician who uses an excellent jab as the basis for very fluid combinations, which he uses to feel out his opponents defenses early in fights before gradually upping his ratio of power shots once he’s worn his man down. If there’s a criticism to be made of Gvozdyk, it’s that he relies on his footwork defensively in conjunction with his high volume to keep his opponent’s hands at home as much as possible. That works a treat against most fighters but he’s been a bit more hittable than he should be when he goes on the offensive and that could spell trouble against someone like Beterbiev.

That’s because Beterbiev is one of the scariest punchers in boxing at the moment, and though he is not as technically refined and fluid as Gvozdyk, he trusts his power enough to not exert himself chasing a KO and get frustrated when it doesn’t come as easily as anticipated. He is unlikely to consistently win rounds off of a fresh Gvozdyk, but is never more than a couple of punches away from turning the fight around and should get chances to test the Ukrainian’s chin.

As both fighters strengths play into each other weaknesses, the fight is very tough to call. The question really is whether or not Gvozdyk can stay away from the power and what happens should he get a taste of it. Gvozdyk outworking Beterbiev for a decision or a late KO is definitely a likely scenario but the fact that he is there to be hit makes me lean towards Beterbiev catching him and stopping him sometime in the middle rounds. Anyway this shakes out, this is a fascinating match up worthy of the time of anyone with even passing interest in boxing.

The undercard really isn’t anything to write home about outside of Uzbek prospect Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0, 9 KOs) facing veteran Luis Collazo (39-7, 20 KOs), but the main event is what warrants tuning in. Boxing match ups of this quality don’t come that often, though we’ve been spoiled in recent weeks with GGG-Derevyanchenko and Spence Jr vs Porter.

Beterbiev vs Gvozdyk airs on ESPN at 10:00 pm ET/ 7:00 pm PT on Friday, October 18th with the prelims starting at 6:30 pm ET / 3:30 pm PT on ESPN+

Main Card – ESPN – 10:00 pm ET / 7:00 pm PT

Artur Beterbiev vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk

Luis Collazo vs. Kudratillo Abdukakhorov

Preliminary Card – ESPN+ – 6:30 pm ET / 3:30 pm PT

Michael Seals vs. Elio Heraldo Trosch

Josue Vargas vs. Johnny Rodriguez

John Bauza vs. Donald Ward

Joseph Adorno vs. Damian Alejandro Rojas

Jeremy Adorno vs. Misael Reyes

Sonny Conto vs. Steven Lyons