Arthur Beterbiev won his main career victory and knocked out Alexander Gvozdik in Philadelphia. Thanks to this victory, the Russian boxer not only held the third defense of the IBF title, but also took away the WBC belt from his opponent. Thus, he became the first light heavyweight champion to unite these belts since the time of American Andre Ward.
And this despite the fact that before the fight, it was Carnation was considered a favorite. The advantages of the Ukrainian included his comprehensive development, as well as the ability to conduct 12-round fights. While Beterbiev was perceived by many exclusively as a knockout machine, which his statistics completely confirmed. To date, none of Arthur’s 14 battles has covered the entire distance.
True, the Russian boxer himself admitted that he was preparing to spend all the 36 minutes allotted in the ring and would not try to send his opponent to the floor at all costs. Beterbiev even said that for the sake of overall success he was ready to give up his ideal series of early victories.
Even before the start it became clear that not only Alexander, but also the local public would confront Arthur. During the announcement of the athletes, the fans reacted rather warmly to the name of the Ukrainian, but at the same time they booed his counterparts. It is noteworthy that Beterbiev himself, although he came out with the Russian flag, was listed as Canadian in the protocol. So, throughout the battle, a flag with a maple leaf appeared opposite his last name, which was a little misleading.
At the same time, in the first round, it became clear that both athletes would act in their usual manner. So, Beterbiev immediately began to crush Carnation, and he, in turn, willingly agreed to act as the second number. The Russian threw a lot of powerful blows, fraught with great danger to the opponent. All this forced the Ukrainian to maneuver a lot, constantly change directions and move around the ring. Of course, such a style is extremely energy-consuming, but before Alexander already proved that he was able to carry out the whole battle in this way.
In the last seconds of the segment, the athletes clung to the clinch, which almost led to the first knockdown. Beterbiev tried to get out of the grab and sent Gvozdik to the canvas thanks to something in between the kick and the judo cut. At the same moment, the gong rang, which deprived the referee of the need to open an account.
Arthur also spent the second round very actively, after which he unexpectedly loosened his grip. He began to allow Alexander to go forward more, and he focused on swift counterattack actions. The Russian citizen clearly went into an economical mode with the goal of leaving enough energy for the ending, but the Ukrainian could not use this to seize the initiative. He also worked rather carefully and relied on a combination of a jab to the head and a right straight to the body.
Beterbiev, on the other hand, continued to rely on his crown hit on the right and even found Gvozdik’s head several times, but the highlight of the first half of the battle was created by the WBC champion. At the end of the sixth round, he succeeded in an excellent right straight to the head, who checked the strength of the Russian jaw. He survived, but clearly felt the blow and immediately rushed forward. In exchange, he only worsened his position and was forced to simply squeeze his opponent out of the ring. As a result, the Ukrainian fell again, but the knockdown was not counted.
By the eighth round, Beterbiev’s position had become even more frightening. He could not get close to the distance, but on the middle one he did not look so preferable. Carnation famously controlled the distance and broke through the most powerful straight lines, repeatedly reaching the goal. So, two of them came exactly to Arthur's head, and his desperate attempt to answer almost cost him penalty points. The Russian man struck after the signal to stop the bout and listened to the comments from the judge.
In anticipation of the ninth three-minute position of the IBF champion was regarded as close to critical. Despite the constant pressure from Beterbiev, it was Gvozdik who looked like the master of the situation and most likely led on the referee cards. Thus, Arthur needed to prove that he was rightfully considered the king of knockouts and was able to achieve them not only in duels with middle-aged athletes, but also with sports stars.
During the break, the seconds said that Arthur needed to win all the remaining four rounds, and he took it too literally. He instantly accelerated the pace, held a series of successful combinations, and then literally beat his opponent, who suddenly ran out of strength. This was facilitated by both the active style of warfare by Alexander, and numerous attacks on the body performed by his opponent, which could not but affect the ending. The Russian turned the tide of the meeting and was close to knockout, but the Ukrainian survived.
However, in the next round Beterbiev’s superiority became overwhelming. He literally swept the Carnation from the ring, four times sending him to the floor. And for the first time, the referee again refused to open the countdown, but subsequently was forced to begin to intervene in the course of the bout. Alexander looked lost and took on almost all the blows of Arthur. The same one felt the taste of victory and did not let go of his vis-a-vis. 12 seconds before the bell, the Ukrainian was again under a hail of blows and again knelt down, and the judge stopped the fight.
Beterbiev won his 15th victory by knockout in his career and became the first unifying belt Russian light heavyweight champion since the time of Sergey Kovalev. In 2016, Kovalev owned three titles in this category, until he was defeated by Andre Ward. In addition, Arthur beat Alexander Gvozdik for the second time, adding to the success in the amateur ring a triumph in the professional.
At the same time, the athletes behaved more than respectfully and after the fight they hugged and exchanged a couple of phrases. As for Beterbiev, he said that in the future he was ready to hold another unifying fight. At the same time, it does not matter to him who will become his rival - Dmitry Bivol or the winner of the battle between Sergey Kovalev and Saul Alvarez.
"Never mind. Any of them. For me, the main thing is the title, not the name. Together with the second belt, my level of motivation increased. I used to give more or less everything in training, but now they will work with the maximum calculation, ”Beterbiev said.