Oleksandr Gvozdyk will take a similar approach Friday night that he did December 1.
When Gvozdyk faced Adonis Stevenson, he knew he had to box Stevenson cautiously because the powerful southpaw was very capable of knocking him out with one punch. Gvozdyk’s discipline 10 months ago enabled him to remain in position to knock out a fatigued Stevenson (29-2-1, 24 KOs) in the 11th round of their fight for Stevenson’s WBC light heavyweight title at Videotron Centre in Quebec City, Canada.
Gvozdyk, who was down on two of the three scorecards when he stopped Stevenson, will have to be at least as careful as he was versus Stevenson when he encounters Russian knockout artist Artur Beterbiev in their 12-round, 175-pound title unification fight Friday night in Philadelphia. Russia’s Beterbiev has knocked out every one of his 14 professional opponents and is considered one of boxing’s most pulverizing punchers.
Ukraine’s Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs) has won 82 percent of his professional fights inside the distance, yet he realizes exchanging punches with the dangerous Beterbiev wouldn’t be an intelligent strategy to employ.
“First of all, you’re supposed to be smart,” Gvozdyk said. “This guy can hit. You’re supposed to be focused. You’re not supposed to stand in front of him and you’re not supposed to trade punches with him. It’s not a good strategy and it’s not smart. So, we have our game plan, which you’re gonna realize in the ring, and I know we’re gonna win this fight.”
Teddy Atlas, Gvozdyk’s trainer, has hammered home Gvozdyk’s need to box Beterbiev throughout their nearly two-month training camp in Philadelphia.
“He did his job very well for the seven weeks we’ve been here,” Gvozdyk said. “He put in my head the right mindset, so I think it’s gonna work.”
Beterbiev, 34, and Gvozdyk, 32, will fight for Beterbiev’s IBF title and Gvozdyk’s WBC belt in a main event ESPN will televise from Temple University’s Liacouras Center. The telecast, which will start at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, also will include a 10-round welterweight bout between Brooklyn’s Luis Collazo (39-7, 20 KOs), a former WBA champ, and Uzbekistan’s Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0, 9 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.