Beterbiev: ‘I’m focused on title, not on name’

It was a savage light heavyweight battle that lived up to the Philadelphia billing. Artur Beterbiev, in a back-a-forth affair, knocked out Oleksandr Gvozdyk in the 10th round to unify the WBC/IBF light heavyweight titles Saturday evening at the Liacouras Center.

Beterbiev knocked down Gvozdyk three times in the 10th, as referee Gary Rosato immediately waved off the fight following the third knockdown.

Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) was behind on two of the three judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage.

“We work in the gym We work hard, and we have some targets,” Beterbiev said. “My first target, second target and other one comes soon.

“It doesn’t matter {who I fight next.} Anyone. I’m focused on title, not on name.”

Abdukakhorov Defeats Collazo:

Kudratillo Abdukakhorov (17-0, 9 KOs) maintained his status as the IBF No. 1 welterweight contender, scoring a unanimous technical decision (99-91, 98-92 and 97-93) over former world title challenger Luis Collazo (39-8, 20 KOs) after a cut opened up above Collazo’s right eye in the 10th and final round.

“I am the IBF No. 1 contender, and I would like to fight for the title fight next,” Abdukakhorov said. “I wanted to fight Errol Spence Jr., but unfortunately he got in a car accident. I wish him a speedy recovery, and if he’s ready to fight soon, I would like to fight him. If he has to vacate the title, then I will fight whoever they put in front of me.”

Collazo injured his biceps in the fifth round and was unable to throw his left hand much throughout the second half of the fight.

“Hey, it is what it is. This is part of the sport,” Collazo said. “We’ll see what’s next.”

Photo: Top Rank: Mikey Williams

Arum on Beterbiev-Gvozdyk: ‘This could very well be the fight of the year’

In boxing, unification is a great thing, and on October 18 at the  Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, WBC light heavyweight world champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk and IBF light heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev will battle it out to see who will be one of the top guys at 175. 

Gvozdyk and Beterbiev have a combined record of 31-0 with 28 knockouts, which means we could have some fireworks in Philly. 

“This could very well be the “Fight of the Year,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “These are two evenly matched, undefeated light heavyweight champions. There is nothing better in the sport of boxing.”

Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs) is no stranger to Philadelphia, he made his first defense of his title in the “City of Brotherly Love” last December when he stopped Doudou Ngumbu, and he expects to give the fans another great show on October 18. 

“My first goal was to win a light heavyweight world title. Now, I want to unify the belts, and that mission starts with Artur Beterbiev,” Gvozdyk said. “This is going to be a spectacular fight, one that the fans will enjoy. The fans asked for this fight, and we will deliver. One thing I know is that I will be the unified champion.”

Beating Beterbiev(14-0, 14 KOs) won’t be easy for Gvozdyk. In 14 fights, Beterbiev has 14 KOs, and he wants nothing more than another belt at 175.  

 “This will be a great fight between the two champions who aspire to become the undisputed light heavyweight world champion,” Beterbiev said. “I am looking forward to stepping into the ring on October 18.”

This will be a terrific fight, and just as Arum said, this could be the “Fight of the Year.” It should be very interesting to see how this one plays out. 

Gvozdyk-Ngumbu set for March 30 in Philly

WBC and lineal light heavyweight champion Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk will make the first defense of his world title against Doudou Ngumbu on Saturday, March 30 at the 2300 Arena. In the 10-round co-feature, Gvozdyk’s stablemate, top welterweight contender Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas, will take on Philadelphia native Ray Robinson.

Gvozdyk-Ngumbu and Kavaliauskas-Robinson will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. The undercard, including the IBF welterweight title eliminator between Kudratillo “The Punisher” Abdukakhorov and Keita Obara and an appearance by Philadelphia-born heavyweight prospect Sonny Conto (1-0, 1 KO), will stream live on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Peltz Boxing, tickets priced at $125, $75, and $50 go on sale Thursday, Feb. 14 at 10 a.m. and can be purchased at 2300arena.com, the 2300 Arena box office at (267) 758-2173, or by calling Peltz Boxing at (215) 765-0922.

“It was a long journey for me to become a world champion, and I plan on showing everyone why I am the best light heavyweight in the world,” Gvozdyk said. “Ngumbu is a tough fighter who I cannot afford to overlook. My goal in 2019 is to unify with the other champions, but before I can do that, I have to take care of business on March 30.”

“It is a great opportunity to face arguably the best light heavyweight fighter in the world. After 12 years and 46 fights in my career with serious opposition, I get my first shot at a major world title,” Ngumbu said. “I have the utmost respect for Oleksandr Gvozdyk, a great champion who took the WBC title in a war against Adonis Stevenson. It is not going to be easy, but I believe I am much more experienced as a pro and I intend to use that to my advantage.”

Gvozdyk (16-0, 13 KOs) captured an Olympic bronze medal for his native Ukraine in 2012 as part of a national team that included two-time gold medalist and future promotional stablemate Vasiliy Lomachenko. He climbed the rankings with dominant wins over the likes of Nadjib Mohammedi and Yunieski Gonzalez and won the WBC interim light heavyweight title last March with a unanimous decision against Mehdi Amar. As the mandatory challenger, he traveled to Quebec City and, behind on two of the three judges’ scorecards, knocked out longtime champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson in the 11th round. Ngumbu (38-8, 14 KOs) is coming off perhaps the most significant win of his career, a 12-round majority decision over then-unbeaten Yoann Kongolo in May of last year. A native of the Democratic Republic of Congo who is now based in France, Ngumbu will be making his first attempt at a world title.

Kavaliauskas (21-0, 17 KOs) is universally regarded as one of the welterweight division’s top contenders, a massive puncher who rolled through then-beaten Roberto Arriaza in three rounds last November in Oklahoma City. He has knocked out five of his last six foes and is the WBO’s top contender for the belt currently held by pound-for-pound great Terence “Bud Crawford. Robinson (24-3, 12 KOs) is a rangy southpaw boxer who rebounded from back-to-back losses early in his career to Shawn Porter and Brad Solomon to win 13 in a row. In his last bout, Feb. 17, 2018 against Yordenis Ugas, he saw that winning streak come to an end when Ugas scored a seventh-round stoppage.

“I know a lot of Robinson’s fans will be in Philadelphia to cheer him on, but they will leave the 2300 Arena disappointed,” Kavaliauskas said. “This is the year that I fight for, and win, a welterweight world title. I am ready for anybody, including the Crawford-Khan winner. I will show everyone in Philadelphia and watching on ESPN what the ‘Mean Machine’ is all about.”

“I am always excited to come home and put on for my city,” Robinson said. “Every fight is a risk, but the higher the risk, the bigger the reward.”

Abdukakhorov (15-0, 9 KOs), a native of Uzbekistan who now lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, went 2-0 in 2018, including a convincing 12-round unanimous decision over Laszlo Toth in defense of his WBC silver welterweight belt. Obara (20-3-1, 18 KOs), who hails from Tokyo, is one of the division’s heaviest punchers. He knocked out Alvin Lagumbay in three rounds last August, a measure of revenge over the man who knocked him out in two rounds less than four months earlier.