If he is successful in beating Beterbiev – something easier said than done – Gvozdyk has the opportunity to join his compatriots Oleksandr Usyk and Vasyl Lomachenko by becoming a unified world champion.
However, Beterbiev will be equally motivated to put on a great performance in front of an American audience in Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia, and stake a legitimate claim as the division’s number one in the process.
Beterbiev, of Chechen extraction, was born in the troubled region of Dagestan; somewhere which for many years was largely defined by separatist upheaval and violence.
Nevertheless, he proudly represented Russia as an amateur fighter and racked up numerous accolades, reaching the heavyweight quarter-finals in the 2012 Olympics before he was eliminated by Oleksandr Usyk, who went on to become undisputed cruiserweight champion as a professional.
Likewise, Beterbiev has been similarly impressive in the paid ranks, consistently blasting away his opposition and capturing world championship glory in just his twelfth fight against Germany’s Enrico Koelling.
In his explosive encounter with Britain’s then-undefeated challenger Callum Johnson in October 2018, Beterbiev also demonstrated other attributes like his tenacity and indomitable will to win, shaking off a heavy knockdown in the second round to spectacularly halt Johnson in the fourth.
Ultimately, Beterbiev’s sheer stubborness alongside his considerable amateur experience, in addition to his devastating punching power and immense physical strength, certainly make him one of the most fearsome champions in the sport and he proved this once again in his last defence against Radiovoje Kaladzjic, pummeling the Montenegrin fighter into submission after five brutal rounds.
Beterbiev’s relentless approach and the patently destructive force he carries in both hands will have to content with Gvozdyk’s tidy combinations and frenetic footwork, as fans and commentators around the world are thoroughly torn when it comes to predicting one of the most intriguing match-ups of the year.
Indeed, Gvozdyk’s stamina and movement enabled him to expertly navigate through the early danger posed by Adonis Stevenson – under the guidance of veteran Teddy Atlas – before the Ukrainian was able to put together a venomous volley of punches in the eleventh round to end the affair on away soil.
Moreover, Gvozdyk’s youth and accuracy are additional factors cited by those who are inclined towards picking him against Beterbiev, but it would also be reasonable to think that Beterbiev’s ultra-offensive style will be the difference on the night as Gvozdyk is given no room to breathe and eventually succumbs to Beterbiev’s aggressiveness.
Therefore, in this 50-50 fight, it is likely to be Beterbiev – a bonafide in-ring predator with supremely underrated boxing skills – who prevails by stoppage, as the Ukrainian struggles to find space and withstand the inevitable Beterbiev onslaught in the mid-to-late rounds.
Preview by: Navi Singh
Follow Navi on Twitter at: @DarkMan________