Russian Rampant: Beterbiev Unites Light Heavyweight Belts.

Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Artur Beterbiev met in the middle of the ring and battled it out for the title of the world’s best light heavyweight, and the WBC and IBF world titles. Quickly it became clear that the battle would be boxer against puncher. During round 1, the two got tangled and Gvozdyk went tumbling down, with referee Gary Rosado calling a knockdown. It was corrected but it likely influenced Gvozdyk to start to try and turn up the heat early. He moved well and was throwing impressive combinations throughout the early rounds. Artur Beterbiev took them and would deal back hard counters, but his punches would not be as frequent or as connected as Gvozdyk.

This one caused some debate on press row. Some had Beterbiev ahead thanks to damage. Others believed that Gvozdyk was beating him thanks to his overall boxing skill, and some still the fight to close to call. I saw it with Gvozdyk ahead but with Beterbiev catching up quickly. In the 9th round, Beterbiev’s power became evident, as a Gvozdyk who was moving well seemed to be stuck in wet cement. Much has been said about Max Kellerman claiming that Gvozdyk quit on his stoll in between the 9th and 10th rounds, but it’s clear something in his body was shut down or his will was broken by the power. Beterbiev knocked Gvozdyk down three times in the 10th round, and secured the a signature, statement making win at 2:49 of the round. His streak of KO’s continues as he’s a perfect 15 for 15. Gvozdyk takes the first loss of his career, but will surely be back in the title picture before long.

It’s speculation as to who might be up next for Beterbiev, but the opponent who might make for the most compelling fight might be Dmitry Bivol, another undefeated Russian who the week before cruised to another title defense.

Luis Collazo was set to be the foil for the current #1 contender in the welterweight division Kudratillo Abdukakhorov. Through the first two rounds it seemed that KA might have a test from Collazo, somehow Collazo injured his left hand. For the reminder of the fight he threw it sparingly, instead doubling and tripling up on right jabs as he tried to press KA, who was responding but never sought to dominate a one handed fighter.

Another argument began on press row as to whether or not this a real injury, an attempt at throwing the fight and one who was loudly arguing that Collazo was winning the fight since he was the one pressing the action. The fight got even weirder when Abdukakhorov knocked Collazo over in a tie up, and Collazo couldn’t get back up. The fight was called in the 10th and on the scorecards it was an easy victory for Abdukakhorov by unanimous decision.

Philly native and favorite Sonny Conto returned to the ring against Steven Lyons. Tyson Fury walked out with The Bronco, as the lineal champion has been working with the heavyweight prospect. Conto saw little resistance from “The Lion King” as it was clear after round 1, the fight wasn’t meant to last the full four rounds. Lyons survived the first but would not see the 2nd, as the fight was called off in-between the rounds. Conto is ready for a step up in competition and could be the next contender in a complicated heavyweight landscape.

Joseph Adorno was looking to stay perfect in the ring against Damian Sosa. “Blessed Hands” had Sosa come forward consistently, which played right into Adorno’s power. He knocked down Sosa with an impressive combination in the first. Sosa kept up the push in the 2nd round, but to no avail as Adorno blessed the crowd with an impressive knockout. He landed a devastating punch which locked Sosas’s knees and sent him tumbling in-between the ropes. The ref immediately began waving the fight off at the 1:20 mark of the 2nd round. At 13-0 it might be time to start taking a closer look at Adorno in the lightweight division.

Julian Rodriguez continues to blaze on the comeback trail. His next obstacle was Leonardo Doronio. In his 2nd fight back after spending 2 years out of the ring Rodriguez got some rounds in against the experienced Doronio. He was able to survive several flurries from Rodriguez, but returned little offense of his own. The onslaught lasted until the 6th and final round, when Rodriguez was able to land an picture perfect left hook which mercifully ended the contest at the 2:29 mark of the round. Rodriguez is now a perfect 18-0 in his rejuvenated career.

Part of one of the brother act Jeremy “Magic Hands” Adorno had his hands full with Misael Reyes. Reyes came out quickly and won the first round, keeping Adorno off balance and reaching for his punches. It only took that round for Adorno to find his range again, and the magic struck in round 2 in the form of a knockdown. In the third round it seemed that Reyes was finding his footing again, but after a brief break in the action for a rabbit punch from Reyes, Adorno came out and controlled the final stanza of the third round, and then the 4th. Two judges scored the fight 38-37, and one had it 40-35 with Adorno jumping to 3-0 with the unanimous decision, and Reyes his third defeated offset by just one win.

Josue Vargas and Johnny Rodriguez were up next and thankfully for the event organizers were prepared to go the distance. Unfortunately for Rodriguez it was a showcase of Vargas’s boxing abilities. Rodriguez landed few and far between, but his aggression was enough to keep Vargas moving. Josue Vargas is making a name for himself at super lightweight, and Rodriguez was a good test of will and stamina for him. The unanimous decision came in at 80-72 across all three of the judges scorecards, pushing Vargas record to 15-1 with 9 KOs, while Rodriguez is now 9-5-1 with 6KOs.

Elio Trosch and Michael Seals lead off the evening, and it didn’t take long for the first round of fireworks to go off. Seals delivered the fight ending blow at 1:38 of the round. Seals moves to a strong 24-2 record with his 18th career KO. Trosch will drop to 14-9-2.

This was a great night of fights, and Philadelphia is on its way back to being a city where big fights happen.

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