‘Iceman’ John Scully offers insight into Artur Beterbiev camp ahead of Oleksandr Gvozdyk unification
Artur Beterbiev is in Philadelphia ahead of one of the most anticipated showdowns of the year.
The IBF ruler meets WBC king Oleksandr Gvozdyk at the Liacouras Center in “The City of Brotherly Love” and boxing fans are expecting a Fight of the Year contender.
Beterbiev’s assistant trainer John Scully has been in Montreal for seven weeks helping head coach Marc Ramsay, working as “a second pair of eyes”.
“I hold the pads for him, we go through different techniques and we go over strategy with Marc. We work as a team,” said the former light heavyweight title challenger.
“We watch the films together. I think Gvozdyk’s very good, he’s tricky, he uses his height very well. He’s not somebody you can sleepwalk through. You really have to be on your game and you really have to have a strategy to counter him because if you let him dictate the fight, he will do that.”
Both men can crack. Beterbiev has stopped all 14 of his opponents, Gvozdyk has halted 14 of 17 but Scully thinks his man has the greater firepower.
“I think there’s a difference in power in terms of Arthur debilitates people when he hits them,” Scully continued. “When he hits them, they just lose it. Most of the guys at light heavyweight can punch pretty solidly and I’m sure Gvozdyk has good power, but it’s going to be hard to find someone at that weight who hits harder than Arthur.”
If both start free-swinging, fans could be treated to the type of fight former Philly light heavy favorite Matthew Saad Muhammad gave them countless times in the late 1970s, against the likes of Marvin Johnson, Richie Kates and Yaqui Lopez.
Scully says the plan is to make it a thriller. He believes it is a Fight of the Year contender in the making.
“I think so because Arthur is going to have to make it exciting,” he explained. “It can’t be a boxing match. You don’t need to be a boxing genius to know that Muhammad Ali had to box Joe Frazier rather than slug it out with him. Ali had to box and get up on his toes. With this fight, we have to minimise this guy keeping his distance and using his angles, so it’s going to be better for us if we get him into a good action fight. That would be the goal.”
Gvozdyk has thrived under International Boxing Hall of Famer Teddy Atlas. They’ve been preparing throughout camp in Philadelphia and Scully is clearly respectful of Atlas, though he is not sure he will be the difference maker on the night.
“On one hand, he brings a lot of intensity, knowledge of the game, knowledge of styles and he brings a definite philosophy but on the other hand it might not be right for everybody,” Scully went on. “Now I don’t know Gvozdyk, I don’t know his mentality but I know that Teddy is a guy who is not everyone’s cup of tea as a trainer. There are certain guys who couldn’t really deal with his formula, so a lot of it depends on the kind of guy Gvozdyk is and how he responds to that kind of thing.”
Scully has long been impressed with his man’s professionalism. Beterbiev’s not the type to blow up in weight between fights or to go off at the deep end after a win. Instead, he’s looking ahead to the next big fight and to the next title.
“Arthur is very consistent,” Scully continued. “He’s the type of guy who prides himself on being professional and he keeps in shape even when there’s no fight coming up. I always tell people – and you only run into a few of these guys – his head trainer Marc could leave him alone for a month and Arthur would be in the same condition, the same weight and everything else. You don’t have to worry about him, following him up or him slipping. That just wouldn’t happen, so it’s easy to train a guy like that.”
But Friday night sees two high-class fighters meeting arguably at their prime. For Scully, there’s no question about that.
“Oh sure,” he agreed. “As a professional, all things considered, he’s the best guy [Beterbiev has faced] but Arthur is the best guy he’s faced also. Arthur stopped him in the amateurs but Arthur is realistic. It could mean something if the fighter lets it. If Gvozdyk lets that bother him and play a role then it will play a role, but in the grand scheme of things I don’t think it’s going to matter.”
Gvozdyk admitted he was a little in awe of Beterbiev when they met in the unpaid ranks. He was inexperienced while the IBF titleholder was a competitive international. The WBC titleholder contends it will be different this time. Regardless, Scully is expecting Gvozdyk and his IBF counterpart to battle over the middle of the ring, certainly at some point.
“I think so because I think Gvozdyk’s going to have to fight back,” Scully concluded. “If you saw when Gvozdyk won the title, he was moving around and boxing and being elusive but he can’t win that way. You can’t win by running away and just boxing Arthur. You’re going to have to get his respect at some point but to do that you’re going to have to be close. On a fight on this level, Gvozdyk’s not going to just want to win, he’s going to want to be impressive, he’s going to want to please Teddy and he’s going to want to make a fight of it.”