Photo: James Law/GLORY Sports International

NEW YORK–Pavel Zhuravlev (71-11) didn’t need the knockdown he scored in the final seconds of the third round to earn the win over Saulo Cavalari (60-6) at GLORY 43 Superfight Series on Friday night, but it put a rubber stamp on his victory and brought the New York crowd to its feet.

Zhuravlev, 33, defeated Cavalari by unanimous decision inside The Theater at Madison Square Garden to win the GLORY interim light-heavyweight title, earning a pair of 30-26 scorecards and a 29-27. The title fight was three rounds instead of five due to the promotion announcing the bout would be for a title only a few weeks ago.

The Ukrainian veteran came out in an aggressive fashion in the opening round and was throwing heavy right hands with bad intentions every chance he got. Cavalari, who lost by TKO to Artem Vakhitov at GLORY 38 his last time out, looked much sharper this time around, but Zhuravlev was landing the more significant strikes throughout the three-round contest.

The second round was more closely contested than the first round. Cavalari landed several of his trademark low kicks while Zhuravlev continued to have success with his right hand.

Tempers flared in the third round after a break in the action for an illegal blow by Cavalari. The Brazilian hit Zhuravlev in the groin, which resulted in referee Chris Wagner halting the action. When the bout resumed the two touched gloves, but Cavalari snuck in a kick before they separated. Zhuravlev became incensed at the cheap shot and went after Cavalari for the remainder of the round. He connected with a big right hand, which sent Cavalari to the canvas with only a few seconds left.

Zhuravlev after knockdown of Cavalari at GLORY 43.
Photo: James Law/GLORY Sports International

With his latest win, Zhuravlev, who was ranked No.2 in the light heavyweight division heading into the bout, improves to 2-1 in GLORY competition. He will face Vakhitov to unify the titles at a future date. Meanwhile, Cavalari’s GLORY record falls to 7-4 in GLORY in defeat.