It's past the dawn of a new world in this now sweet science of Cold War nature.
It feels like we're in a reversal of time, where “Rocky” more or less is a Soviet styled Joe Frazier facing a “Creed” more adjacent to a Ukrainian Muhammad Ali.
Tonight in Philadelphia on ESPN, Oleksander Gvozdyk (17-0, 14KOs) will face Artur Beterbiev (14-0, 14KOs) with all the international intrigue of “The Spy Who Loved Me” Vs “Dr. No”.
Oh yes, in a pitched battle from America that will actually feel like it's being fought from the Caucasus Region, I can see a transcripted call of tension in the fandom sense between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin in discussion over a bout that should make lovers of war forget about peace. I mean that in a good way; in the same way that it's a shame this fight couldn't take place in Kiev or Moscow due to tension thicker than thieves. For as Ludmilla Drago put it, “Of course they're sportsmen, not soldiers.”
This one's for the warrior.
In what very well may turn out to be the very best fight of 2019, the light heavyweight unification firefight pitting Gvozdyk vs Beterbiev as a match-up reminds me of Murat Gassiev Vs Yunier Dorticos in texture stylistically. It should be the kind of beautiful violence that honors the valor of a fallen Patrick Day and soothes the spirits of a Charles Conwell by night.
With heavy hearts, none of us within the fight community have nor did we have, an “If he dies, he dies” mentality. Boxing is so very capable of being all the war we need for want, as these two men will honor that axiom for pride and country — if not reform that better insures and protects the combatants and their families.
In terms of athleticism, the Teddy Atlas inspired Gvozdyk is along the lines of his Ukrainian comrade Oleksander Usyk from an orthodox position. He's just a lite edition with more calories if that's possible. I don't think he can seperate himself from Beterbiev the way Usyk did Gassiev — Gvozdyk is not as good as Usyk and Beterbiev is far more dimensional than Gassiev. That's no knock on “The Nail”, because Usyk is arguably a top 5 pound-for-pound talent; but one of them will emerge from this contest as the consensus best light heavyweight on the planet after a thriller.
Just what kind of great fight should this be? Excuse the hyperbole and don't shake the screen, scream at your tablet or start giving your smart phone the dumb look… This fight, in character, could play out to be a USSR version of Ali Vs Frazier. It's almost professional Olympics between a burgeoning nation states and a regional superpower. And for added intrigue, Gvozdyk calls Oxnard, CA home between fights while Beterbiev resides in Montreal, Canada. This is no ordinary fight by any stretch of the imagination.
It's a huge credit to Top Rank and Bob Arum that this fight was able to happen. Hell I'll even go as far as saying “The Bobfather” doesn't owe us anything else this year because of this fight. That said, we still get to see a unification war that pits Teofimo Lopez Vs Richard Commey, along with the return of Terence “Bud” Crawford Vs Mean Machine. Do whatever you gotta do to see this fight on ESPN as it's sure to be an instant classic. As for who will win? My gut tells me that there's more WD-40 in the body of Gvozdyk to nail away at the stiffer 🔨. He'll have to dig deep into a cauldron of resolve and find something beyond the kryptonite that riddled Adonis “Superman” Stevenson late, but I think he will.
Oleksander Gvozdyk stops a gallant Artur Beterbiev via come-from-behind TKO 11.