PHILADELPHIA -- For the first time in the history of the light heavyweight division, there was a world title unification fight between unbeaten titleholders. Artur Beterbiev and Oleksandr Gvozdyk squared off on Friday night, and when the dust settled, it was Beterbiev who scored three knockdowns in the 10th round for the stoppage victory.
It had been a very close, technical fight, but as soon as Beterbiev started to invest more to the body, Gvozdyk started to slow down, which allowed Beterbiev to take control of the fight, and unify two 175-pound titles in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card at Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.
Beterbiev came into fight with an advantage over Gvozdyk. In a 2009 amateur bout, Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KO's), a two-time Russian Olympian, broke Gvozdyk's nose, and stopped him inside two rounds.
Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KO's), a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist representing Ukraine, fought much better in this fight, but Beterbiev still had his number.
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 Beterbiev leading 87-83. FightNights.com had Beterbiev ahead 87-84 at the time of the knockout.
Gvozdyk was having a strong start in the opening round when Beterbiev tied him up and threw him down to the mat. Referee Gary Rosato ruled it a knockdown. However, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission used their power to use instant replay. Upon further review, the knockdown was overruled.
In the second round, Beterbiev connected with a crushing right hand that knocked Gvozdyk off balance.
Gvozdyk used his jab and combinations in the fourth round to back up the powerful Beterbiev. However, he got caught with a big right hand at the end of the round.
Beterbiev knocked Gvozdyk down near the end of the sixth round, but it was ruled a slip once again by Rosato. However, Gvozdyk had boxed well prior to that moment, landing with some decent body shots. But one could sense that Beterbiev was getting closer to finishing the fight as he continued to find Gvozdyk with his massive right hand.
Gvozdyk landed with several clean punches in the eighth round, and Beterbiev was warned for throwing a shot at Gvozdyk when Rosato was trying to break them.
Beterbiev, 34, who was making his third defense, had a monstrous ninth round, landing with several stuff right hands that had Gvozdyk hurt, and looking to hold. He connected with an uppercut and a right hand over the top that sent him to the corner looking dejected.
Beterbiev stepped on the gas in the 10th round and finished Gvozdyk, knocking his man down three times to maintain his perfect knockdown record.
Beterbiev dropped him to a knee with a right hand. Gvozdyk rose before the count of 10, but Beterbiev put him down for a second time with a left and a right. He tried to fight back, but another right hand to the head ended it as Rosato waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 49 seconds.
"I am very happy. I didn't know how I would feel when I got the second belt but now I am very happy to have it," Beterbiev said with a belt hanging over each of his shoulders. "He got tired. I feel it. He get tired but I am not tired."
According to CompuBox, Beterbiev landed 161 of 515 punches (31 percent) and Gvozdyk connected with 118 of 614 punches (19 percent).