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philadelphia – There had never been a light heavyweight world title unification fight between undefeated champions until artur beterbiev and oleksandr gvozdyk met on Friday night, and when it was over, it was the mighty beterbiev who scored three knockdowns in the tenth round. for the TKO victory.
It had been a close, competitive and exciting fight, but beterbiev consistently broke gvozdyk to unify two 175-pound title belts and claim the lineal title in the main event of high-ranking boxing on espn’s undercard against 3283 at temple university. liacouras center.
Reading: Artur beterbiev vs oleksandr gvozdyk
“I just tried boxing and the knockout came. I’m not focused on a knockout,” Beterbiev said. “One takedown, second takedown, third takedown. I kept going until the referee stopped it. It’s my biggest fight. I had a lot of work to prepare for this fight.”
Going into the fight it was a real draw, with few in the fight game having a real feel for who would win, not to mention the odds that made beterbiev just a very small favorite. but in the end, he won a convincing victory.
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the fight was a rematch of sorts, with beterbiev beating gvozdyk again. During their amateur careers, they met in a tournament in 2009 and Beterbiev, a two-time Russian Olympian fighting from Montreal, stopped Gvozdyk, a 2012 Ukrainian Olympic bronze medalist fighting from Oxnard, California, in the second round. /p>
It took him longer to stop gvozdyk (17-1, 14 kos) this time, but there was no question as beterbiev (15-0, 15 kos) wore him down with a steady diet of hard right hands.
at the time of the stoppage, judge john mckaie had gvozdyk ahead 87-84, ron mcnair had him up 86-85 and john poturaj had a better lead 87-83. espn had a better lead of 86-85 at the time of the TKO.
“I’m not surprised,” Beterbiev said. “I don’t care about the judges.”
It was mostly a back-and-forth battle, with several close rounds.
“i thought it was a terrific fight. gvozdyk got the better of him early and the ‘beast’ just wore him down and eventually took him out,” senior president bob arum said. “he really is one of the strongest light heavyweights i have ever seen. he has tremendous energy and he packs a big punch and stays there and eventually wears down his opponent. i thought gvozdyk was winning the fight, close but winning the fight but beterbiev was coming.”
gvozdyk was having a good first round when he and beterbiev tangled and beterbiev shoved him to the canvas without hitting. Referee Gary Rosato ruled it a knockdown, and Gvozdyk’s coach, Teddy Atlas, came up the steps to yell at him. After the round, Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission Executive Director Gregory Sirb watched a video replay and overturned the rosato, denying the knockdown.
in the second round, beterbiev landed a tremendous right hand that knocked gvozdyk off balance. he just missed his best shot.
gvozdyk reasserted himself in the fourth round, forcing beterbiev to the ropes and unleashing a combination. He supported him throughout the round and landed several hard shots, though Gvozdyk was hit with a right hand at the final bell.
Round 6 was another one with good two-way action. gvozdyk landed some good body shots, and they ended in a thrilling exchange, with beterbiev landing a right hand that stunned gvozdyk, who was a huge crowd favourite. gvozdyk went to the mat near the end of the round, but rosato ruled it a slip.
after gvozdyk hit several clean shots in the eighth round, beterbiev tied him up and then threw a shot as rosato was pulling them apart and was called for the foul.
beterbiev had a great ninth round, landing several powerful right hands that got gvozdyk in trouble, particularly late in the round. He nailed Gvozdyk with an uppercut and an overhand right that rocked him, and it looked like the end was near, but he rang the bell to end the round.
beterbiev, 34, who was making his third title defense, continued to press the attack in the tenth round and finally finished gvozdyk to keep his perfect knockout record intact.
Gvozdyk, 32, who was making his second title defense, went down early in the 10th round, but Rosato ruled it was from a push to the head. Moments later, Beterbiev put him down for real with a right hand, forcing him to his knees. beterbiev then unleashed a left and a right and gvozdyk went down a second time. He was hurt but tried to fight back until another right to the head dropped him back to a knee, and Rosato stopped the fight at 2 minutes, 49 seconds.
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“I’m very happy. I didn’t know how I would feel when I got the second belt, but now I’m very happy to have it,” Beterbiev said with a belt hanging from each shoulder. “She got tired. I’m sorry. She got tired, but I’m not tired.”
gvozdyk, who was cheered on by close friends and olympic teammates vasiliy lomachenko, the pound-for-pound king and world lightweight champion, and heavyweight contender oleksandr usyk, the undefeated former undisputed cruiserweight champion, He was not available for comment after the fight. gvozdyk was sent to the hospital for precautionary reasons.
according to compubox, beterbiev landed 161 of 515 punches (31%) and gvozdyk landed 118 of 614 punches (19%).
while beterbiev, who like gvozdyk earned $1.5 million, would like to further unify the division against dmitry bivol or the winner of the nov. 2 between champion sergey kovalev and canelo alvarez, there is virtually no chance that beterbiev will face either of them in his next fight. beterbiev has one of his mandatory defenses pending, against China’s meng fanlong (16-0, 10 kos), who won a final eliminator in June.
“I want mandatory unification and then more,” Beterbiev said. “It doesn’t matter [who I fight next]. Anyone. I’m focused on titles, not names.”
arum and dino duva of roc nation sports, who represents fanlong, have already been discussing the fight, possibly in china around chinese new year (jan 25).
“beterbiev has an obligation that we did with the ibf. we got permission to do this unification and we have a great offer to go to an island off china,” said arum.
after that, arum said he hopes to do a unification fight for beterbiev.
“[promoter] eddie hearn said that bivol would be available to fight on espn. we would accept it and we have to see what happens with kovalev and canelo”, said arum. “gvozdyk fought very, very well. we have a lot of light heavyweight fights that we will be doing. gvozdyk is there to fight maybe gilberto ramirez when he comes back. we have a lot of light heavyweights and we will match them all, because the truth is they do very good fights.”
That was the case on Friday night.