On what was a sneaky good week of boxing, Friday nights card. in the great fighting city of Philadephia produced what was the weekend’s biggest fight and turned out to be the weekend’s most exciting scrap. The light heavyweight unification bout between two unbeaten champs, WBC Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine and IBF kingpin Artur Beterbiev of Russia was a highly anticipated 50/50 kind of fight. A fight that was difficult to handicap and nearly impossible for pundits and experts to pick. After nearly 10 rounds of warfare, it was the 34-year-old, Beterbiev who was able to break down his opponent secure the stoppage victory and leave the city of “brotherly love” with two of the four major bets at 175, the zero in his loss column still in place and with our Fighter of the Week award.
Beterbiev Vs Gvozdyk on paper was a can’t miss, all-action, barn burner and it certainly lived up to expectations. Gvozdyk established himself early winning rounds moving laterally and working off his jab. However, as Gvozdyk may have been putting rounds in the bank, it was Beterbiev who was landing the bigger more meaningful shots and the tide of the bout started to shift in favor of the Russian in the fifth round. Beterbiev picked up his offensive pace. Several powerful right hooks to Gvozdyk’s body clearly began to slow the Ukrainian down and Beterbiev started landing power shots at will as the Compu box numbers show. Gvozdyk rallied back in the eight, putting together what was perhaps his best round. Landing several clean right hands and hooks to the head and body of his opponent. However, Gvozdyk’s rally was short-lived as the IBF champ took over the fight in round nine, Gozdyk was noticeably wearing down and the stiff right jabs from Beterbiev were hurting the Ukranian and several short left uppercuts staggered Gvozdyk who barely survived the round. The end came in the tenth. Beterbiev dropped Gvozdyk three times, prompting referee Gary Rosado to call a halt to the bout at 2:49 of round 10. Running Beterbiev’s record to 15-0 with all 15 wins coming by way of knockout. At the time of the stoppage, Beterbiev was down on two of the three cards (87-84 and 86-85, respectively), and was ahead by four points on the card of Judge John Porturaj (87-83).
After a performance like that in a unification bout, Beterbiev has clearly established himself as the number one guy in the division and will be the favorite in bouts with any of the big names in the 175 pound-division which includes the winner of Kovalev-Canelo, Dmitry Bivol, and Gilberto Ramirez. However, up next for the Russian champ is his IBF mandatory, unbeaten Fanlong Meng of China. Promoter Bob Arum said that fight will happen in early 2020 and a unification bout with Dmitry Bivol could happen as soon as next summer according to Arum. If a Bivol fight doesn’t come off next summer, a rematch with Gvozdyk or a showdown with the Kovalev-Canelo winner, which will be the WBO champ, would probably be the biggest money fight available for Beterbiev. He is certainly going to be at no shortage of attractive options. As its a great time for the light heavyweight division with all the champions looking to fight each other.