Jean Pascal, Bernard Hopkins, Chad Dawson, Adonis Stevenson, Oleksandr Gvozdyk. The latter of those names represents the latest link in the casual chain that is the Lineal Light Heavyweight Championship, and the Ukrainian looks to maintain his warm seat on that storied throne against Russian native turned Canadian resident, Artur Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs).
While they have history, victors tell the tale. A win for Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs) buries an amateur loss and solidifies his status as the man; a verdict for the #4-ranked Beterbiev reinforces his superiority and places him atop the 175-pound ladder.
Who triumphs in this titanic battle for light heavyweight supremacy? We won’t know until fight night but here’s a glimpse at what boxing writers had to say about it.
Michael Atkins (USA) – TGTN Writer: Beterbiev
This is just a great fight. Two excellent pros, both exceptionally talented, and both betting the entire house on this weekend’s highly anticipated clash. Each, products of the deep and storied Russian (Beterbiev) and Ukrainian (Gvozdyk) amateur programs. An intriguing contrast of styles and skill-sets–although, to be fair, Gvozdyk can punch, and Beterbiev can box–it will be the Ukrainian looking to box, while the Russian will be attempting break whatever he hits.
To me, the outcome of this fight is all about timing. In 2014/2015 I would have picked Beterbiev to knock out any 175-pound fighter in the world, including Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev. The Russian was a wrecking machine. I’d pick that version of Beterbiev to crush Gvozdyk. At this point though, the Russian was a can’t-miss great fighter who is now trying to extend a prime that never fully developed. Is Gvozdyk, who is very, very good, just coming into his full powers, while Beterbiev is beginning to say goodbye to his? I don’t think Beterbiev will ever be as good as he could have been, but I think he has just enough left to win Saturday.
Beterbiev may be, physically, the strongest light-heavyweight I’ve ever seen. And he’s a devastating puncher. With outside bombs, but he is also an excellent short, compact puncher. He doesn’t need a lot of room. Beterbiev is capable of walking through his opposition almost as though they aren’t even there. He hurts fighters with glancing blows. I think he has enough of his prime left to beat Gvozdyk by KO sometime in the middle rounds, but this is as close to a pick ‘em as there is due to the career arcs of each man.
Beterbiev, KO-5, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it went the other way.
Roy Bennett (CN) – Independent Writer: Gvozdyk
Strong, compact and a bit rough around the edges, Artur Beterbiev reminds me of a box car with the handbrake off rolling inexorably down hill. If you’re in his way he’s going to run right over you.
Anyone Beterbiev hits he hurts. The anaesthesia in his right hand is very real.
But the mauling power puncher from Dagestan, Russia, 14-0, 14 KOs, has only fought three times since 2016. Let that sink in. A contractual dispute with his then promoter, Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM), kept him on the shelf for the best part of two years and he’s blown hot and cold ever since.
In the opposite corner stands the polished Ukrainian technician Oleksandr Gvodzyk, a former amateur standout and Olympic bronze medalist, trained under the watchful eye of Anatoly Lomachenko on the Ukraine national team alongside Vasily Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk. Gvodzyk, tall and rangy and fleet of foot, likes to box behind a high guard while employing a pecking jab and plenty of lateral movement. He’s measured and accurate and doesn’t waste punches. Gvodzyk, 17-0, 14 KOs, ripped the WBC crown from Adonis Stevenson in 2018 by vicious 11th round KO. He used his footwork to control distance and move in and out to negate Stevenson’s southpaw left hand before dropping the right hand bomb in the penultimate round to end matters. How has what happened to Stevenson affected Gvodzyk? Beterbiev, an aggressive two-fisted banger, will provide the answer. In his only outing this year Gvodzyk racked up an awkward injury stoppage win over one Doudou Ngumbu in 5 rounds. A pointless exercise.
Beterbiev and Gvodzyk will ask some tough questions of each other in this contest. I happen to like Gvodzyk’s greater versatility, fluid movement and ring intelligence, honed under the Lomachenkos, to win the day.
Gvodzyk by UD.
Jack Sumner (UK) – TGTN Writer: Beterbiev
With all due respect to Dmitry Bivol and Sergey Kovalev, this Friday’s light-heavyweight unification between Artur Beterbiev and Oleksandr Gvozdyk will determine the current top dog at 175lbs. Both men were accomplished amateurs and since turning pro have decimated all in their path en route to the IBF and WBC titles respectively. Gvozdyk has been in much deeper as a professional however and possesses the better resume, his stoppage wins over Adonis Stevenson and Isaac Chilemba outshining Beterbiev’s best victories over Callum Johnson and a faded Tavoris Cloud.
But these two have met before, in the amateurs way back in 2009, a fight in which Beterbiev emerged victorious by scoring a second-round stoppage. Amateur bouts are very different from those in the paid ranks of course, and historically many fighters have avenged defeats that they suffered in vests and headguards, but that’s often due to the fact that the tables are turned when the point-scoring nature of amateur boxing doesn’t translate to the physicality of the professional ring. Beterbiev was a brutish mauler as an amateur and remains a brutish mauler as a pro.
Both men carry power, but with a 100% knockout record Beterbiev has the edge in that department and might also enter Friday’s bout with a significant psychological advantage given the result of their amateur dust-up. With the Russian’s shoulder issues now seemingly behind him and Gvozdyk’s tendency to hold himself a little upright when retreating, I see Beterbiev landing big right hands up top and winning by knockout.
Ironically, I think Gvozdyk is the better all around fighter but given the circumstances I see Beterbiev being all wrong for him here.
Beterbiev by KO.
Erich Edmonds (USA) – TGTN Writer: Gvozdyk
Gvozdyk vs. Beterbiev is one of the biggest fights to made in the light heavyweight division and has the potential to be one of the best fights of the year. For me, it’s tough to predict the winner for this fight. I can easily see either man coming out on top.
Gvozdyk has the skills and power to take on any top guy in the division. His angles, jab and combinations are impressive and I can see him keeping Beterbiev on the end of that jab. Beterbiev, while not as technically polished as Gvozdyk, is still a powerful boxer and a threat to any light heavyweight as well. At any point in the fight I wouldn’t count him out to turn the fight around with one punch. Ultimately what I see is a close and tough fight between to champions but I think Gvozdyk can control the fight with his jab and angles and eventually stopping Beterbiev in the late rounds or getting a unanimous decision.
Sean Bastow (UK) – TGTN Writer/BTR Boxing Podcast: Beterbiev
This is a battle of two undefeated light heavyweights with a scary knockout percentage and what will be a telling factor on the night is how either man will react to the first big punch landed.
We have seen with Beterbiev that he is willing to take shots in order to land them, and as shown against Callum Johnson he can be hurt. On the other hand Gvozdyk is a much more skilled opponent and although Beterbiev stopped him in the amateurs he has improved a great deal since and can give Beterbiev all sorts of problem with his movement and footwork.
I do believe that Beterbiev’s one punch concussive knockout power will make a difference come fight night and I see him stopping Gvozdyk within six rounds.
Christopher Carlson (USA) – TGTN Writer/Podcaster: Gvozdyk
John Einreinhofer (USA) – TGTN Writer/Podcaster: Beterbiev
Beterbiev KOs Gvozdyk. A year ago I would’ve picked Gvozdyk but Beterbiev looks fully recovered from his shoulder injury and has some of the old aggressiveness back. Ironically both are guys skilled but also have huge power and sometimes box too much. The most aggressive will win.
Jeremiah Preisser (USA) – TGTN Editor/Writer/Co-Host: Gvozdyk
Skills pay the bills that keep the lights on, but it’s awfully hard when the landlord is a chiseled Chechen with two hammers, knocking on your door for 36 minutes.
Artur Beterbiev is undoubtedly the puncher many peg him as. He’s up there with the biggest bangers in the sport. But he isn’t caveman simple or wild. Russia’s son may appear to want to burn it all to the ground, and he does by bullying guys and flattening them stiff, but he learned a ton in his country’s cutthroat amateur system, emerging as the best they had to offer. He understands how to create openings and capitalize on them in the fractions of seconds available.
Gvozdyk, likewise, was the top of his class in the unpaid ranks for his nation and has achieved that enviable task so far as a pro. He’s shown well-rounded assets inside the ring–smooth as butter footwork, quicks hands, pinpoint accuracy, power in both mitts, and a champion’s mentality, coming back from adversity on multiple occasions. “The Nail” also has one of the better left sticks in the whole game.
On the flip side, each has displayed a weakness in that their chins can be dented and defensive leaks do occur. That means either fighter has a real shot at a kayo and you would have to be a fool to run to the fridge while this is on.
This piece is about who has the edge, though, and I’m siding with the galloping Gvozdyk. His swiftness of foot, along with his ability to control his outbursts, should temp the freer-swinging Beterbiev into forcing his hand come the middle rounds. His sloppier approach should open him up to counters, one of which ultimately put him away between 6-10.
Zakwaan Shaukat Ali (UK) – TGTN Writer: Gvozdyk
I must admit this is the most anticipated fight for me personally. I have been looking forward to this from the bunch of excellent unifications this Fall (Spence vs. Porter and Prograis vs. Taylor) and a slight bias due to the light heavyweight being my favourite division.
I’ve followed both guys very closely since the beginning of their professional careers, I know both have met in the past in the amateurs with Beterbiev taking the scalp I believe, but we all know the pro game is another kettle of fish.
Two exceptionally skilled fighters, but in my opinion with somewhat contrasting styles.
Beterbiev has probably the most brute power in the division, great amateur pedigree beating Kovalev and facing Gvozdyk countryman Usyk.
Great jab, shot placement and phenomenal inside work with vicious body punches and brutal left hooks up top, boasting a KO percentage of 100%, 14 fights, 14 wins and 14 KOs.
The vulnerability for me is his poor defence, his chin can be wide open and has been down by lesser fighters like Callum Johnson, be it flash knockdowns he’s got back up to finish proceedings. He can be somewhat reckless and smothers his work.
Gvozdyk, for me is an all arounder, Jack-of-all trades, probably one of the best jabs in the game, he’s called “The Nail” for a reason. The Superman couldn’t keep up with his insatiable workrate, and Gvozdyk was always moving in perpetual motion and evading his hammer left hook, moving laterally to one side and countering him with a straight right.
Much like Beterbiev, Gvozdyk also has been chin checked and hit the canvas by lesser fighters too.
I suspect Beterbiev will be looking to close the distance and make it a firefight on the inside and look to unleash hayemakers that the audience watching at home can feel, but with the fluidity and agility of Gvozdyk it will be tough. Much like his Ukrainian teammates he’s a moving target, however, he is upright which may play into Beterbiev’s hands at times, but I feel Beterbiev won’t be able to keep with volume of accurate punches Gvozdyk will be landing
This is a making for a highly skilled war.
In all honesty I love both guys! I’d love it for either guy to win, I’m a massive neutral here. But I do believe when it comes to all around skillset in the division Oleksandr Gvozdyk is numero uno and will come out on top from the pack in the stacked 175lbs division.
I’m picking Gvozdyk via PTS
The Final Tally
Oleksandr Gvozdyk – 5/Artur Betebiev – 4