by Liam Gilsenan
IBF Light Heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (14-0 KO 14) and WBC king Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-0 KO 14) will attempt to unify their respective titles when the two hard-hitting champions square off in Philadelphia in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Beterbiev, 34, will be looking to make the third defense of his IBF strap that he won by knocking out Enrico Koelling back in 2017. The unbeaten Russian is coming off a TKO victory over Radivoje Kalajdzic who had one loss going into the contest via split decision.
WBC kingpin Gvozdyk, 32, will be looking to make his second defense of the WBC title come Saturday morning. The hard-hitting Ukranian won the interim WBC belt with a unanimous decision verdict over Mehdi Amar back in 2018. Gvozdyk won the full version of the crown by coming from behind on the scorecards to stop long-time champion Adonis Stevenson in the 11th round. Stevenson was admitted to hospital after the bout in a medically induced coma but has since left the hospital and is recovering.
Seeing one man owning both the IBF and WBC Light Heavyweight belts will be a rare sight for boxing fans. The last time the two IBF and WBC champions met was all the way back in June 1999 when Roy Jones Jr defended his WBC and WBA Light Heavyweight belts, beating IBF king Reggie Johnson by decision. Jones went on to defend both belts seven times before vacating to move up to Heavyweight. Whether the winner of Saturday’s fight can go onto have the same success as the legendary Jones will remain to be seen.
In search of greatness neither man has shown fear in putting their undefeated records as well as their world championships on the line, this is a true 50/50 fight between two of the best fighters in the Light Heavyweight division. This fight will help determine who reigns supreme at the top of a very deep division.
In the co-main event, former WBA Welterweight champion Luis Collazo (39-7 KO 20) will face off against Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (16-0 KO 9).
Collazo is carrying a three-fight win streak into this fight. The southpaw was last seen taking a split decision victory over Samuel Vargas at Madison Square Garden in March. Abdukakhorov will be putting his undefeated record on the line in this contest and was last seen outclassing Keita Obara in March.
Collazo at 38 is unlikely to have too many more big fights left in him and with the opportunity to take ‘The Punisher’s’ undefeated record one has to think he will be well up for this one. For Abdukakhorov, a chance to grab a former world champion's name on his record is a massive chance for the Uzbekistan fighter. This is the classic fight, wily old veteran squaring off against the young up and coming prospect in a really intriguing contest.