Some fights look perfectly matched on paper and miss.
Friday wasn’t one of those nights.
Artur Beterbiev and Oleksandr Gvozdyk showed up prepared, focused, and ready to win. Only one of them could. While Gvozdyk competed hard from start to end, it was apparent early Beterbiev could match Gvozdyk’s quickness, take the Ukrainian’s best shot, and deliver power to the head and body all night long.
It was a textbook case on how to walk another man down full of creative combinations and accurate hurting shots. There was a time early in his career when Beterbiev looked like the rising tide.
After some business-side hiccups, the tide has landed.
Gvozdyk felt the waves in round ten, dropped three times for the stoppage win.
We got two of the best light heavyweights in the world risking their titles, their undefeated records, and their health for greater glory and the entertainment of the masses. There is lots of complaining about what boxing doesn’t deliver but most years we get more of these kinds of fights than we don’t. It’s the standard we should expect everyone to meet.
In a year when boxing has felt the sting of tragedy too many times, we should remember to appreciate those who do.
Let’s get into it.
The Future for Beterbiev: Already the owner of the IBF belt, Beterbiev now takes hold of the WBC strap and the lineal crown at light heavyweight. From the sound of things, he isn’t done yet. Beterbiev acknowledged mandatory obligations after the fight but turned his eye to additional unification. That means, for the moment, Dmitry Bivol and Sergey Kovalev.
Kovalev is a couple weeks from a huge showdown with middleweight king Saul Alvarez. If Alvarez wins it could leave the WBO belt ultimately vacant. If Kovalev wins, we have another chance for Beterbiev to show an old amateur rival he’s still go his number. Bivol, the WBA titlist, is 28 to Beterbiev’s 34 and has already said he wants the shot. It may be a case of be careful what you wish for but sign this corner up for any of the above. Beterbiev can take a shot, give a shot, and has a distance motor. Good luck to anyone dealing with that in the foreseeable future. It will be a long night, win or lose.
The Future for Gvozdyk: Gvozdyk could easily have stayed in the corner after round nine. That he didn’t spoke to the battler who survived a late surge from Adonis Stevenson. He left what he had in the ring. Sometimes it’s not enough. It doesn’t mean we’ve heard the last of him. Gvozdyk did a lot of things well Friday. They just weren’t things that could beat Beterbiev.
If Kovalev loses next month, Kovalev-Gvozdyk could be a high profile crossroads fight some time in 2020. Gvozdyk will also have appeal as a Bivol challenger if more unification isn’t immediately forthcoming. He took the loss but he’s not out of the mix yet though some time to recover from a bruising affair is in order.
Rold Picks 2019: 61-15
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]