NEW YORK -- Oleksandr Gvozdyk's nickname is "The Nail" and he spent most of the fight with Mehdi Amar nailing him with an assortment of combinations.
It all led to a lopsided decision victory for Gvozdyk, who claimed a vacant interim light heavyweight world title on Saturday night on the Jose Ramirez-Amir Imam undercard in the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Gvozdyk won by scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112 in an entertaining fight. ESPN.com also scored it for Gvozdyk, 119-109.
Light heavyweight is a hot division boasting fighters such as world champion Adonis Stevenson, titleholders Sergey Kovalev, Dmitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev, not to mention former titlist Badou Jack, who is set to challenge Stevenson on May 19. But Gvozdyk is also in that talented mix, and by claiming the interim belt he is the mandatory challenger for the Stevenson-Jack winner.
"It's a great feeling [to win the interim title]. I'm looking forward to fighting for the regular belt," Gvozdyk said. "In my next fight, I'm looking to fight the winner of Adonis Stevenson-Badou Jack."
Gvozdyk, 30, a 2012 Ukrainian Olympic bronze medalist who fights out of Oxnard, California, methodically beat Amar to the punch throughout the fight. His jab was on point and his right hand was accurate. In the fourth round he had Amar in some trouble courtesy of the right hand. He forced Amar to the ropes and nailed him with a right hand. When Amar darted out of the way, Gvozdyk chased him down and landed a series of right hands.
Gvozdyk (15-0, 12 KOs) remained steady with his jab and right hand round after round. It was nothing fancy but it was enough to keep Amar, 35, of France, at bay. Occasionally, Amar landed a decent right hand, but he had a hard time working his way inside, though he did raise swelling around Gvozdyk's right eye.
In the seventh round, Gvozdyk knocked Amar's mouthpiece out, but Amar (34-6-2, 16 KOs) finished strong as he got the better of a fierce exchange as the round came to and end.
Gvozdyk's biggest advantage was landing combinations while Amar mostly landed only one punch at a time.
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Gvozdyk landed 256 of 960 punches (27 percent) and Amar connected with 135 of 536 (25 percent).
"He was very elusive with very good defense. He was running around and making it hard to catch him," Gvozdyk said.
Lozada stops Verdejo in upset
Mexican lightweight Antonio Lozada Jr. called his bout with Puerto Rico's Felix Verdejo the biggest fight of his life. Now he also has the biggest win of his life.
In a major upset, Lozada smacked around big crowd favorite Verdejo for much of the fight, dropped him in the 10th round and then stopped him later in the round.
"I felt like I was hurting him with every punch that I landed, even the jab," Lozada said. "In the last round, I just kept on throwing, landing, and hurting him. I knew I had the chance to knock him out. I went for everything in the last round."
Verdejo started well and landed several strong right hands early, but he never looked all that comfortable in his first fight in 13 months because of various injuries, including one that forced him out of a mandatory world title shot against then-lightweight titleholder Terry Flanagan.
Lozada never stopped attacking, and in the fifth round he hurt Verdejo with a right hand to the head with about 30 seconds remaining. Verdejo was backing up and wobbly and both of his eyes were swelling.
Lozada continued to march forward while firing jabs and right hands, and he connected solidly on Verdejo time and again. Verdejo (23-1 15 KOs), 24, a 2012 Olympian and the 2014 ESPN.com prospect of the year, also landed hard punches but spent a lot of the later rounds in retreat. He was fading as the 10th round began and Lozada caught him with a solid left hand. Verdejo's legs were wobbly and he tried to hang on for dear life.
When Lozada (39-2, 33 KOs), 27, of Mexico, landed another left hook to the head, Verdejo went down. His lip was bleeding and he was in rough shape, but he continued. He held and backed up, but when Lozada continued to nail him, the doctor ordered referee Eddie Claudio to wave it off at 2 minutes, 37 seconds.
"Most people thought I couldn't win this fight, and I shocked a lot of people," Lozada said.
At the time of the stoppage, Verdejo was leading 87-84 and 86-85 on two scorecards and Lozada, who won his seventh fight in a row, was ahead 86-85 on the third scorecard in a match initially scheduled for last Sept. 22 but postponed because of a Verdejo training injury.
Conlan shines in KO victory
Conlan scores two knockdowns before TKO finish
Irish Olympian Michael Conlan knocks down David Berna in the first round with a body shot, then in the second sends Berna to canvas with a left to the head. Soon after the referee stops the fight, as Conlan improves to 6-0 as a pro.
Featherweight prospect Michael Conlan (6-0, 5 KOs), the popular two-time Irish Olympian responsible for drawing most of the on St. Patrick's Day, blew away David Berna in a second-round knockout victory.
He was fighting at the Theater almost one year to the day from when he made his professional debut before a sold-out crowd and had his pal and UFC star Conor McGregor walk him to the ring.
"It is a huge honor to be fighting in the Garden on St. Paddy's weekend, but it is something really special to be fighting on St. Paddy's Day," Conlan said. "Now I want to do it in Ireland. I mean look at this crowd. We will sell out any stadium in Ireland."
Conlan dropped Berna with a left hook to the body followed by a right to the head in the first round. In the second round, he knocked Berna (15-3, 14 KOs), 27, of Hungary, down again with another right hand and then referee Eddie Claudio stopped the fight at 1 minute as Conlan pounded Berna.
"I knew this was going to happen," Conlan said. "He started committing and I hit him and dropped him with a beautiful body shot in the first round. After that, I knew I was going to stop him."
Conlan, 26, had moved with his family to Southern California to train with Manny Robles, but they decided to move back home. Now Conlan trains in London and was in his first fight with trainer Adam Booth, who liked what he saw.
"Now, we're allowing him to express his natural grade as a boxer and that amateur pedigree," Booth said. "It's about putting in a little bit of professional spite in it, where he's not just trading, but learning to combine smart skills with a little bit of power. Smart boxing, spiteful punching. That's not brawling. Brawling is giving and taking, and he's too clever for that."
Puerto Rican junior lightweight Christopher "Pitufo" Diaz (23-0, 15 KOs), 23, won by fourth-round knockout when Braulio Rodriguez (19-3, 17 KOs), 29, of the Dominican Republic, suffered a hand injury.
Diaz was in control of the fight when Rodriguez suddenly bent over in agony after injuring his right hand, and referee Gary Rosato stopped the fight 27 seconds into the fourth round at the direction of the ringside doctor.
"We knew that this was going to be the result of the fight anyway," Diaz said. "I was going to continue pressuring him and all that taunting he was doing was going to end. It was just a matter of time. If he didn't decide to quit, the knockout was coming. Again, it was just a matter of time."
The win was Diaz's second in a row at the Theater following his impressive performance on Dec. 9 when he blasted out Bryant "Pee Wee" Cruz in three rounds on the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Guillermo Rigondeaux undercard.
Adorno wins with quick left hook
Junior lightweight prospect Joseph Adorno picks up his sixth career knockout in as many fights with a left hook that causes Ivan de la Madrid's corner to throw in the towel in the first round.
Junior lightweight prospect Joseph Adorno (6-0, 6 KOs), 18, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, scored a one-punch first-round knockout of Ivan de la Madrid (3-3, 0 KOs), 21, of Puerto Rico. Adorno dropped him hard with a clean left hook to the chin, and though de la Madrid beat the count, he was in no condition to go on and referee Shawn Clark stopped the fight at 2 minutes, 1 second.
In his first fight since signing with Top Rank last month, former junior lightweight world titleholder Jose "Sniper" Pedraza moved up to lightweight and rolled to a shutout decision against Jose Luis Rodriguez, winning the eight-round bout 80-72 on all three scorecards.
Pedraza (23-1, 12 KOs), 28, a 2008 Olympian, was fighting for the first time in 13 months. In his previous bout, he lost his world title by seventh-round knockout to Gervonta Davis in January 2017.
Pedraza dominated and was quite effective with his right hand, and he tattooed Rodriguez (23-12-1, 13 KOs), 31, of Mexico, throughout the bout. Pedraza never came close to a knockout, but he appeared to be working on things, including going southpaw for stretches.
"This is what we wanted. We wanted to work," Pedraza said. "After a long inactivity, this was the kind of work we were looking for. I'm very happy. We did some pretty good work. Thankful for the opportunities Top Rank is giving me. Great things are coming from this point on."