Artur Beterbiev has successfully unified the IBF and WBC World light-heavyweight titles with a sensational tenth-round stoppage victory over Oleksandr Gvozdyk at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.
Neither fighter was dominant throughout the early proceedings, although it was the Ukrainian who had the look of someone slightly busier and livelier, and appeared to take the attacking initiative in the opening rounds.
There was some initial confusion surrounding an apparent knockdown scored by Beterbiev in the opening round, but upon review it was deemed that Gvozdyk was bundled to the canvas, and was therefore subsequently rescinded.
Gvozdyk, seemingly encouraged by this ruling, boxed a more disciplined fight over the next couple of rounds and was enjoying a certain degree of success with slashing combinations from the outside.
However, despite his supreme conditioning, Gvozdyk was being forced to work extremely hard to fend off Beterbiev’s physical albeit patient approach as the Chechen fighter was able to connect with some powerful single shots in the early stages.
Indeed, despite conceding a significant reach advantage to his counterpart, Beterbiev showcased exquisite timing and poise, consistently holding his own in the jab exchanges and alternating his attacks with some powerful shots to the body.
Beterbiev looked to be the more efficient and economical fighter overall, as he methodically manouvered Gvozdyk backwards and was careful not to overcommit on his own offensive work.
It was a comfortable, calculated performance from the Dagestan-born IBF champion as Gvozdyk – circling around the ring – increasingly began to unravel, in the face of Beterbiev’s educated investments downstairs.
Beterbiev remained composed even as Gvozdyk embraced a more aggressive-minded approach, and the Ukrainian will no doubt have been further disheartened by the fact that Beterbiev barely flinched, despite shipping a thunderous right hand in the fifth.
Instead, Beterbiev was largely content to welcome Gvozdyk in, and hurt his opposite number on multiple occasions, before stepping on the gas pedal in typically ruthless style and nearly pummelling him into submission in the ninth.
The end was in sight as Beterbiev, clearly smelling blood in the tenth round, bombarded a tiring Gvozdyk with a series of destructive punches as the Ukrainian staggered around the ring, desperately seeking an escape route.
Ultimately, Beterbiev was positively merciless at this point as he continued to punish the Nail with his reserves of devastating punching power, knocking him down several times to prompt the referee’s timely intervention.
Article by: Navi Singh
Follow Navi on Twitter at: @DarkMan________