PHILADELPHIA: Rus­sian world champion Artur Beterbiev unified the light heavyweight boxing division on Friday with a 10th-round stoppage of Oleksandr Gvozdyk, extending a remarkable knockout streak and undefeated pro career.

Beterbiev knocked his Ukrainian opponent down three times in the 10th before referee Gary Rosato stopped it with 11 seconds left.

“This moment, it is my most important fight,” Beterbiev, 34, said in broken English. “I had big work to prepare for this fight.”

Beterbiev, who represented Russia in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, defended his International Boxing Federation crown and seized Gvozdyk’s World Boxing Council belt.

Beterbiev, who trains in Montreal, Canada, improved to 15-0 with 15 knockouts and is the only major boxing champion to have knocked out all of his opponents.

Gvozdyk threw more punches, but Beterbiev landed the harder and more direct shots, mixing up his combinations by working the head and body at The Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.

Beterbiev showed in the final round why he is considered one of boxing’s most devastating punchers.

Looking the fresher of the two, Beterbiev scored the first knockdown with a flicking left to the side of the face.

He knocked Gvozdyk down again 30 seconds later and finished the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist off with an overhand right.

Gvozdyk had been warned by Rosato after the second knockdown that the fight would be stopped if there was one more.

When Gvozdyk took a knee after absorbing the right, Rosato had no choice but to stop the bout.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2019