Artur Beterbiev stops Oleksandr Gvozdyk in 10, unifies IBF and WBC light heavyweight titles
PHILADELPHIA, PA — The sound of the thuds echoed throughout Temple University’s Liacouras Center. Each time Artur Beterbiev landed another shot, they seemed to grow louder at ringside.
Oleksandr Gvozdyk was waning with each body shot, with each head shot.
Finally, Gvozdyk succumbed, and Beterbiev, the IBF light heavyweight beltholder, unified the light heavy title by taking away the WBC belt Gvozdyk held with a 10th-round stoppage Friday night on ESPN/ESPN Deportes.
At the time of the stoppage, Beterbiev’s 15th-straight, Gvozdyk was up on the scorecards of judges John McKaie (87-84) and Ron McNair (86-85), while judge John Poturaj had it 87-83 for Beterbiev.
Beterbiev landed 161/515 (31.3%) total punches, 48/232 (20.7%) jabs and 113/283 (39.9%) power punches, to Gvozdyk’s 118/614 (19.2%), 24/260 (9.2%) and 94/354 (26.6%).
“You know, I’m not surprised about him, about surprised about me,” said Beterbiev, the Russian expatriate now living in Montreal, Canada. “Today, I’m not like I want to be. I try to do some of the instruction my coach gave me, but I did not follow all of the instruction.
“I tried to just box.”
At the end of the first round, referee Gary Rosato called Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 knockouts) down in the final 10 seconds. The fighters appeared to tangle, and in between the rounds, Pennsylvania State Athletic Commissioner Greg Sirb told the judges that the fall was a slip—not a knockdown.
In the second, Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) landed a big right off Gvozdyk’s head in the final 20 seconds. That one shot may have won the round for Beterbiev, who was getting outboxed throughout much of the round. The right forced Gvozdyk to tie up Beterbiev.
Both fighters began opening up more in the third. Late in the third, Beterbiev tagged Gvozdyk with a few heavy shots. That may have been enough, once again, to win the round.
Beterbiev didn’t seem to have any respect for Gvozdyk’s power.
That may have changed slightly in the first minute of the fourth. Gvozdyk had Beterbiev pinned against the ropes, but the former Russian Olympian spun out of trouble. Beterbiev closed the fourth strong, which may have swayed the round in his favor.
Through five, it appeared Gvozdyk couldn’t hurt the heavier-fisted Beterbiev.
Gvozdyk was backed up with a body shot in the sixth. But with 1:39 left, Gvozdyk did plow a right off of Beterbiev’s jaw. Gvozdyk was the more active fighter in the round, and as the round came to a close, Gvozdyk landed a pair of rights on Beterbiev’s face.
Gvozdyk opened the seventh with a right, and sensing Beterbiev was listing slightly, Gvozdyk seemed to get braver. The seventh also marked a difference in stalker. Gvozdyk held his place in the middle of the ring with Beterbiev orbiting him. Until that point, it was Beterbiev stalking Gvozdyk.
Beterbiev entered the eighth for only the second time in his career. With just inside a minute left in the round, Gvozdyk ponged a few rights off Beterbiev’s face. With :20 left, Gvozdyk struck Beterbiev with another right to the face.
Gvozdyk started the ninth strong. He plowed a combination off of Beterbiev’s head. With 1:52 left in the round, Beterbiev nailed Gvozdyk with a hard right. With :55 left, Beterbiev popped Gvozdyk with another right. Beterbiev had Gvozdyk backing up and in trouble. Gvozdyk was hanging on for dear life.
Beterbiev exerted his strength. He out muscled Gvozdyk, pounding him with a right uppercut.
“I was told to jab, jab, jab, but I did not continue,” Beterbiev said.
Filled with confidence, Beterbiev forced Gvozdyk to take a knee with 1:10 left in the 10th. Gvozdyk had little left. A short left dropped Gvozdyk a second time, with inside of a minute left in the round. It was a blunt, short right that felled Gvozdyk a third time, and by then, Rosato wisely saw enough by halting it at 2:49 of the 10th.