IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev 15-0 (15) added the WBC championship to his collection with a 10th round knockout win over Oleksandr Gvozdyk 17-1 (14) at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia on Saturday night.
Fighting in front of 3,283 people, Beterbiev overcame a slow start to batter the 32-year-old Ukrainian into submission.
The 34-year-old Russian was the aggressor throughout the fight, walking down his more favoured opponent and landing with heavy hands to both the body and head.
Gvozdyk was taking a hammering from the midway point of the fight and was down three times in the 10th frame before referee Gary Rosato mercifully stopped the contest at the 2:49 mark.
Somewhat surprisingly, Gvozdyk was leading on two of the three official scorecards with John McKaie having him up 87-84 while Ron McNair had the WBC champion leading 86-85. Judge John Poturaj had Beterbiev up 87-83.
“For this moment, it’s my most important fight,” Beterbiev said post-fight. “I had big work to prepare for this fight.
When asked what the keys to victory were, the newly crowned unified champion said: “I think you have to ask my coaches about that. I have three coaches. We work in the gym. We work hard, and we have some targets. My first target, second target and other one comes soon.”
Beterbiev was credited with a knockdown just before the bell to end the first round, but video replays reviewed by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission showed it was a slip and referee Rosato’s original ruling was overturned.
Gvozdyk continued to control the range for the next three rounds but by the fifth Beterbiev’s heavier blows were beginning to take their toll.
Just as drops of rain wear down a stone, Beterbiev kept knocking chips off the favourite until wilted in the later rounds.
As for what’s next, Beterbiev refused to commit. But it’s safe to say he will be the favourite against anyone in the 175-pound division.
“It doesn’t matter. Anyone. I’m focused on the title, not on the name,” he said.
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