Friday nights l unification bout from Philadephia between Artur Beterbiev and Oleksander Gvozdyk lived up to the hype for all hardcore boxing fans not only in the ring but the anyone in attendance at the Liacouras Center.
While the announced crowd of 3,283 in an arena that usually hosts 10,200 by all math is small, the biggest takeaway from this is that it had a big fight feel than that figure would suggest. As I witnessed this first hand, this event should’ve been a bigger deal and let me explain why.
Most, if not any fan in line, had a chance to be apart of a meet and greet with the fighters that were there. Top Rank put a section out where fans could meet Oleksandr Usyk and current lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko to take pictures and shake hands.
The ?? stars are out tonight ?
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) October 19, 2019
Tyson Fury was in attendance as he prepares for his wrestling match out in Saudi Arabia on Halloween and was taking pictures with people as well. The 6’9 heavyweight as he walked by me during the undercard dwarfed me as a stand a firm 5’8 1/4 (Yes, the guy who adds the 1/4, give me credit where it’s due).
Secondly, the crowd for this contest, as expected, was all for it. What didn’t make the air was the 3 National Anthems (Russian, Ukranian, and American) that were performed after the undercard that was seen on the streaming service ESPN+. While I didn’t know a single word of the first two, I assure you the ones in the stands did and was heard almost to the point it drowned out the signer performing it in the ring. That was before the bell, during the main event, it was just as loud with back and forth chants for both Beterbiev and Gvozdyk.
Sadly in the co-main event, Kudratillo Abdukakhorov looked pretty ordinary against a one-armed Luis Collazo. This only ensures doubt if the IBF Mandatory challenger at welterweight would fare well at all against current champion Errol Spence Jr. if they ever faced off. At this present time, it’s highly unlikely. Anyone watching inside the arena had this doubt, and the broadcast on ESPN had Joe Tessitore hammering Fury’s upcoming WWE contest during the fight to confirm as much.
The big fight feel ends with the biggest names which cover the sport. I was sitting two rows up from the media row of Dan Rafael, Mike Coppinger, Chris Mannix, Keith Idec, and one row and over from Steve Kim. To anyone in boxing media, you know how much weight that brings.
Glad to have been apart of it.