Light heavyweight season continues at the top level.
Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Artur Beterbiev made weight for one of the year’s most anticipated showdowns, a light heavyweight title unification bout and lineal championship heat which takes place Friday evening live on ESPN from the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Ukraine’s Gvozdyk hit the scales at a fighting fit 174.3 pounds; Beterbiev—a Russia-born knockout artist of Chechen descent who now lives in Montreal, Canada—checked in at 174.5 pounds.
Gvozdyk (17-0, 14KOs) makes the second defense of his lineal light heavyweight championship, both such fights which will have taken place in Philadelphia and live on ESPN.
The unbeaten 32-year old claimed the crown in a near-fatal 11th round knockout of Adonis Stevenson last December in Quebec City, a bout which left the exiting champion requiring emergency brain surgery from which he continues to recover. Meanwhile, Gvozdyk—who continues to monitor and praise Stevenson’s road to recovery—returned to the ring this past March for his first title defense, an anti-climactic 5th round injury stoppage of Doudou Ngumbu at Philly’s 2300 Arena to defend his lineal crown along with alphabet trinket.
Beterbiev (14-0, 14KOs) puts his own sanctioning body-supplied title on the line for the third time. The two-time Russian Olympian claimed his belt in a 12th round stoppage of Enrico Koelling in Nov. 2017, the closest he’s ever come to being extended the distance and the lone time he’s fought past seven rounds.
Inactivity has previously stalled the career progress of the 34-year old, who finally moved past promotional issues in inking a deal with Top Rank and ESPN. It led to his latest defense, a 5th round knockout of Radivoje Kalajdzic atop a May 4 ESPN card live from Stockton, California.
Opening the telecast, unbeaten welterweight contender Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0, 9KOs) faces former titlist Luis Collazo (39-7, 20KOs).
Abdukakakhrov—an Uzbekistan-born welterweight based out of Malaysia–weighed 147.1 pounds for what is his second straight appearance in Philly, having won a 12-round decision over Keita Obara on the Gvozdyk-Ngumbu undercard in March. New York’s Collazo checked in at 146.4 pounds in looking to a current three fight win streak which includes a 10-round win over Samuel Vargas this past March in New York City.
The ESPN linear telecast begins at 10:00pm ET, preceded by a full undercard which streams live on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30pm ET.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox