Oleksandr Gvozdyk knows about Artur Beterbiev’s prodigious power and potential far too well.

Gvozdyk, 20-1 (16 KOs), suffered the only loss of his professional career to Beterbiev in 2019 during a light heavyweight title unification fight. The former WBC champion Gvozdyk was ahead on two scorecards but would get dropped three times in the 10th round en route to a knockout loss. 

Gvozdyk was hospitalized immediately after the fight and retired the following year, at the age of just 33, to pursue business opportunities during the pandemic. 

The inevitable comeback began in February 2023 and, after three wins, he’s now secured a fight against David Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs) on June 15 for the WBC interim 175-pound title. 

A win by Gvozdyk, the underdog, might secure a shot at the winner of the fight between Beterbiev (20-0, 20 KOs) and Dmitry Bivol (22-0, 11 KOs). 

Beterbiev and Bivol were supposed to slug it out Saturday in an undisputed title fight, but the oft-injured Beterbiev suffered a ruptured meniscus requiring knee surgery earlier this month. 

The rescheduled fight is supposed to take place later this year, and Gvozdyk is not so sure about the brittle Beterbiev’s chances. 

“Beterbiev is starting to fall apart and getting injured pretty often,” Gvozdyk told BoxingScene. “He's not a young guy and it's not a joke anymore. He’s almost 40 years old. He's been fighting since he got out of the crib. He's had many injuries and many wars. 

“I think the best version of Beterbiev, who beat me, is supposed to beat Bivol. But you never know what kind of Beterbiev we're going to see, especially after his latest serious injury. But Bivol is very good. He's still developing. Beterbiev is not developing anymore. It's going to be an interesting fight. It really depends on the shape of Beterbiev. I won't be able to make a prediction.” 

Bivol now marks time on June 1 when he takes on the unbeaten Malik Zinad in Saudi Arabia. 

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer, and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com, or via www.ManoukAkopyan.com.