ON Friday (October 18), at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Artur Beterbiev meet in a thrilling unification for the IBF and WBC light-heavyweight titles, a bout that has all the ingredients to be one of the fights of the year.
“First of all, my dream is to become undisputed champion. This is the first step, and this is the necessary step. And the second thing is, this is what fans like to see. They don’t want to see champions fight some opponents or journeymen. Tough fights, which fans like to see. For me, it’s a big challenge,” Gvozdyk said at a press conference before the fight.
“For now, only one challenge and one opponent exists for me. I’m not even thinking about any other opportunities. Everything is possible in the future. Maybe go up [in weight] or go down. I think it’s possible, maybe hard, but possible. But again, right now, I’m not even thinking about it.”
The two did meet in an amateur bout, that Beterbiev won. But that was years ago and this professional world title fight is hard to call.
As a pro Gvozdyk has trainer Teddy Atlas in his corner. “There’s no room for mistakes, that there’s got to be full concentration for 36 minutes. You have to fight one round at a time, one three-minute round at a time. Not two minutes and 59 seconds, no. Not when you’re in there with a puncher who can change everything in a moment with one punch, as [Adonis] Stevenson almost did in the 10th round. The reason why he’s a champion is because he was able to handle that and was able to survive that. That’s why he’s a champion. You could look at all the other rounds and say he’s a champion because of this, he’s a champion because of that, he gave angles, he used the jab, he punched at the right time. But he’s a champion because, when the moment came, he behaved like a champion,” Atlas said.
“He’s got great judgement and instincts, and we’ve put that in place, and I know we can depend on that judgement and those instincts when it’s time to take a bite, small or big. We never want to get greedy. You never want to get greedy, especially with a puncher.”