The buildup to the fight had two fighters that looked to be the best in the division. By the end of it, one took over and stood out above the other.
Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) was able to take the best shots from Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) and seriously hurt him in the later rounds, leading to a stoppage in the 10th round as he knocked down Gvodzyk three times in the round which ended the fight at the Liacouras Center. With the win, Beterbiev added the WBC light heavyweight title with the IBF title that he had coming into the bout. This was the first time that Gvozdyk was put to the canvas in his career.
This bout was full of action as the first round started out with Gvozdyk starting things out with jabs and combinations. Beterbiev responded with power shots and walking forward to limit the effectiveness of Gvozdyk’s punches. He got to the inside and roughed up Gvozdyk, putting him to the canvas. It was initially ruled as a knockdown but later changed to a slip but that was a signal of what was to come in this bout. Beterbiev kept that forward moving approach in order to score power shots which were affecting Gvozdyk as the rounds passed.
While the Ukranian was scoring with the jabs and did land some good shots on Beterbiev, he was also getting hit with right hands to the body which limited the activity of Gvozdyk in the middle rounds. The confidence of Beterbiev was growing as he continued to pressure Gvozdyk even though his opponent was still throwing the jabs to try to keep Beterbiev away. He did get caught with some good shots in the sixth round as both of them exchanged power punches in some good action, but Beterbiev stuck to his plan.
In the 8th round, Gvozdyk was getting back in the fight by getting in a few power shots. Beterbiev had to get in close and tie up Gvozdyk so that the momentum didn’t shift over. That may have been a good move considering what happened in the next round. Beterbiev was able to get back in the groove in the 9th as he resumed with the body shots, dropping the guard of Gvozdyk and rocking him with right hooks and uppercuts. Gvozdyk was in real trouble but did not go to the canvas in the 9th. However, he was visibly tired in the corner before the 10th and could not stop the onslaught from Beterbiev in that round.
Beterbiev continued to unleash power shots on Gvozdyk and there was no punch that could stop his momentum. Gvozdyk went down for the first time in the 10th following a right hand from Beterbiev. Later in the round, a combination put down Gvozdyk for a second time. Gvozdyk tried to fight back, but it was not enough as Beterbiev finished the fight with a right hand to send Gvozdyk down at the 2:49 mark in the round. When the fight was over, Beterbiev attributed his victory to his activity.
“I tried to just box and the knockout comes. I don’t focus on a knockout,” Beterbiev said. “One knockdown, second knockdown, third knockdown. I just continued until the referee stopped it. It’s my most important fight. I had big work to prepare for this fight.”
When the fight ended, the scorecards showed that it was a close encounter. John McKaie had Gvozdyk ahead 87-84, Ron McNair had him up 86-85 and John Poturaj had Beterbiev leading 87-83. However, after the 8th round it seemed like Beterbiev had the upper hand and that he was looking to finish the fight before it could go to the scorecards.
There are other huge fights in the future for Beterbiev, but he will have to wait until the result of Canelo-Kovalev to pan out on November 2nd plus look ahead to a mandatory defense of the IBF title soon. Even with that ahead of him he is ready for the challenge.
“I want the mandatory then more unficiation,” Beterbiev said. “It doesn’t matter [who I fight next]. Anyone. I’m focused on titles, not on names.”
Cover photo by Mikey Williams of Top Rank