Bill Tibbs looks at some intriguing upcoming match-ups
Oleksandr Gvozdyk - Arur Beterbiev
Shakur Stevenson - Joet Gonzalez
Miguel Berchelt - Jason Sosa
Jamel Herring - Lamont Roach
Using the big Fury/Wallin card at the MGM in Las Vegas as the announcement platform for their fall schedule, Top Rank Boxing unveiled their autumn ring roster that looks to be chalk full with some great fights that should see fight fans enjoying some exciting ring action.
Let’s take a look at a 4 of them.
October 18 – Light heavyweight unification - IBF champion Artur Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KO’s) vs. WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17- 0, 14 KO’s) at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Liacouras Centre, in the City of Brotherly Love, is usually host to Temple University men’s basketball, but on this night it will be the work site for what many are predicting could be the best fight of this year. In Beterbiev and Gvozdyk you have 2 bangers who are undefeated and who both possess different strengths that should make the recipe for a great fight. Gvozdyk showed the ability to box and punch when he stopped former world champion Adonis Stevenson in Montreal in December of last year. He picked up the WBC title in the process (elevated from the ‘interim’ title he had scored 9 months earlier when he beat Mehdi Amar in New York). Gvozdyk will have an airtight fight plan from trainer Teddy Atlas and “The Nail” showed he was a very astute and coachable athlete in the discipline he displayed in the Stevenson fight in sticking to Atlas’ recipe for victory. In Beterbiev you have more of a one trick pony, but that trick is a very dangerous one – fight ending power. As you can see by the numbers he has crushed all 14 of his opponents in his career including 3 word title wins, picking up the IBF strap in November of 2017. Although he doesn’t have the natural, in-ring, fluidity in his game that Gvozdyk has, he does possess the ability to cut off the ring and land his damaging shots.
In the end, I think this fight comes down to styles and who can impose their game plan on the other. If Gvozdyk can get in close and work the body early, I think that will put money in the bank for later in the fight. However, distance will be the key to victory – The Nail has to be close enough to smother Beterbiev or he has to be controlling the fight from the outside. He can’t get caught in that midway point where he can be countered. If Beterbiev can stay at a distance where he can get the leverage on his punches, and land them, he could be a very dangerous guy to be facing for 36 minutes. He has devastating power but it appears that he needs to be set to punch so the key for Beterbiev is trapping Gvozdyk while the key for Gvozdyk is to be moving and giving angles all night.
Prediction – I think most people see this fight going the distance as they assume Gvozdyk will box all night. Atlas will have Gvozdyk in a very disciplined and focused mental mode from the get-go not wanting his charge to have any concentration lapses that could allow Beterbiev to walk him into something. I do see Gvozdyk boxing, landing body shots in the first half of the fight, but then getting a little more offensive upstairs once he has Beterbiev a little fatigued later in the bout. Gvozdyk by stoppage in the 2nd half of the fight.
October 26 - Shakur Stevenson (12-0, 7 KO’s) vs. Joet Gonzalez (23-0, 14 KO’s) - vacant WBO featherweight title at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada. These 2 undefeated, 126-pounders will both try to secure their first world title in a fight that should have some good action. Olympic silver medalist Gonzalez has stopped 8 of his last 10 opponents so he seems to be finding the range with is power shots and he’ll need all the power he has to get the attention of southpaw, slick-ster Stevenson. This one might have a few heated exchanges before the first bell if the initial press conference in Las Vegas is any indication. When asked by presser host Crystina Poncher why the fight was personal, Stevenson replied, “Because I don’t like him”, when asked why, he replied, “Because he’s a bitch”. He later spat out (interrupting Poncher) that he was gonna, “beat his ass”. Gonzalez agreed after the Stevenson comments that it was indeed personal replying (to cheers from the crowd) that, “The kid has no class, disrespectful, no morals, and I’m coming”. This one could heat up plenty but fight time.
Prediction - While Gonzalez has some pop I think he’s going to have all kinds of trouble with the southpaw, shoot and shuffle style of Stevenson. Even when Stevenson stays in the pocket he is hard to catch with a clean shot and I think his skills will take him to his first world title. Stevenson UD 12.
November 2 - WBC super featherweight world champion Miguel Berchelt (36-1, 32 KO’s) vs. Jason Sosa (23-3-4, 16 KO’s) in Carson, California. You gotta like Sosa as the iron-tough, Philly banger is as hard a worker as you’ll get once the bell goes. He is an all-action, straight ahead Philly-tough fighter who isn’t fancy but he is fun. The great news is he is getting a world title fight (and the world title pay that goes with it). The bad news is that he is in with a real tough, rugged guy who matches him in the nuts and guts category and edges him in the skills department. Sosa was stopped in his only other world title fight to then WBO super feather champion Vasyl Lomachenko (no shame in that) in April of 2017 and then lost to Yuriorkis Gamboa in November of that year. Since then, he has put 3 wins together and has indeed earned a shot. However, In Berchelt he has a fighter who is entering title defence #6, of his second run as a world champion (he previously held the interim WBO world super feather title) and who is in his prime as a fighter.
Prediction - Berchelt is as rugged as they come, is hot right now having stopped 4 of his last 5 and I think he will simply outgun a game and exciting (while it lasts) Sosa. Berchelt by mid rounds stoppage.
November 9 - Jamel Herring (20-2, 10 KO’s), 1st defense of his WBO super featherweight title. Mandatory challenger Lamont Roach Jr. (19-0-1, 7 KO’s) will bring his undefeated record into the ring as he he looks to take Herring’s belt in his first world title shot. Herring surprised some with his dominating performance over Masayuki Ito in winning the title only a couple of years off of a 2 losses-in-3-fights run. But, he looked great in capturing the title and, at 33-years of age, his time is now. The moxy and speed he showed in his title winning effort should only be stronger this time out and I think it will be enough to turn away the undefeated, Washington-Born Roach.
Prediction - This is a well-matched fight but I see the underrated and talented Herring keeping his title via UD 12.