Artur Beterbiev vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk prediction, start time, fight card, odds, live stream

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Friday night is a fine night for fights with a surprisingly loaded amount of action on the docket. In boxing, the heat picks up quickly when light heavyweight champions clash in the city of Brotherly Love as Artur Beterbiev and Oleksandr Gvozdyk look to unify two of the recognized belts at 175 pounds. Both men come into this fight undefeated and as top five talents in a loaded division.

Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KO) was a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist before turning pro and blitzing through second and third-tier opposition. In December 2018, he took on Adonis Stevenson in what proved to be the toughest fight of his career. Stevenson brought his A-game and hurt Gvozdyk repeatedly with big shots, taking a lead on the scorecards into Round 11 where Gvozdyk poured on offense before scoring a brutal knockout victory. Stevenson was hospitalized due to a brain injury following the bout before being put in an induced coma for three weeks. The victory served to largely haunt Gvozdyk, who won the WBC and lineal light heavyweight championship. Despite the emotional turmoil, Gvozdyk returned to stop Doudou Ngumbu in five rounds in March.

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Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KO) has never seen a fight go to the judges' scorecards in his professional career. In fact, he's only seen one fight go past Round 7, his IBF title-clinching knockout victory over Enrico Kolling, which came in the final minute of their November 2017 fight. Where Gvozdyk has a clean technical style mixed with heavy power, Beterbiev is a mauling pressure fighter whose style serves to wear opponents down before presenting the opportunity for fight-finishing blows.

On paper, this fight has all the makings of a thriller. Gvozdyk will battle Beterbiev over where the fight will take place, trying to maintain range to outclass his rougher foe. But that's a task easier said than done as Beterbiev's 14 career knockout victims can attest. The odds are close, favoring Gvozdyk at -120 to Beterbiev at even odds.

The winner of this matchup could look to unify even more as WBO champion Sergey Kovalev puts his belt on the line against Canelo Alvarez in November. A super fight with Kovalev or Canelo could take either of these two from the hardcore fanbase to the casual consumers in a heartbeat.

In the co-main event, Luis Collazo takes on Kudratillo Abdukakhorov in a welterweight showdown that could determine a future title contender. Collazo (39-7, 20 KOs) is on a three-fight winning streak since his last loss to Keith Thurman in 2015. The 38-year-old has battled some of the biggest names in boxing at 147 pounds. Abdukakhorov (16-0, 9 KOs) is the 26-year-old rising star looking to take out a former champ.

Gvozdyk vs. Beterbiev viewing information

Date: Oct. 17, 2019 | Start time: 10 p.m. ET
Location: Liacouras Center -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
TV Channel: ESPN | Undercard stream: ESPN+ -- 6:30 p.m. ET

Prediction

Artur Beterbiev vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk: There are few things better than a fight close in odds, on paper and in the imagination of fight fans. That is Beterbiev vs. Gvozdyk in a nutshell. This fight will likely be decided in the first six rounds. If Beterbiev can't effectively pressure Gvozdyk, he's going to find himself desperately behind the better technical boxer on the scorecards and needing to swing for the fences down the stretch. Gvozdyk is supremely talented, but Shawn Porter's performance against Errol Spence Jr. showed what a true pressure fighter can do against someone whom they don't match up with perfectly on a technical level. I'm expecting fireworks and a fan-friendly fight in this one, but I'm a sucker for pressure-fighting bulls. Pick: Beterbiev via TKO7 

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