Over the weekend, Top Rank officially announced a big fight that had been expected for a while now, and it’s now set for Artur Beterbiev and Oleksandr Gvozdyk to unify a pair of light heavyweight titles on Oct. 18 in Philadelphia.
Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KO) will defend his IBF 175-pound belt, and Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KO) the WBC title. It’s not just a meeting of two highly-ranked, unbeaten titleholders, either — it’s also just plain a potentially fascinating fight stylistically.
Both Gvozdyk, 32, and Beterbiev, 34, were standout amateur fighters, for Ukraine and Russia, respectively. Both competed at London 2012, Gvozdyk winning a bronze medal at light heavyweight and Beterbiev losing to Oleksandr Usyk in the heavyweight quarterfinals.
Gvozdyk, a technician with power, won his WBC belt last December, traveling to Quebec City and knocking out Adonis Stevenson in the 11th round. Beterbiev, a brute mauler, won the IBF belt in Nov. 2017 against Enrico Koelling, but promotional issues kept him on the shelf for most of 2018 before he finally signed with Top Rank.
Beterbiev last fought on May 4, stopping Radvioje Kalajdzic in the fifth round, while Gvozdyk was last seen on March 30, winning against Doudou Ngumbu.
Beterbiev-Gvozdyk may be a fight that simply comes down to which man is more able to impose his will — if Gvozdyk can keep Beterbiev at least somewhat at bay, he’s got a great chance, but if Beterbiev gets inside and starts throwing, he could break down the longer and taller man. It all sounds simple either way, but these are both high-level fighters who are very good at what they do.
Beterbiev-Gvozdyk will air on ESPN, with prelim fights as always streaming on ESPN+.