Anthony Yarde has home advantage in London on Saturday night as he looks to cause a huge upset against unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev.
Two heavy-handed boxers will go head-to-head at London's Wembley Arena on January 28. Unified champion Artur Beterbiev (18-0, 18KOs) will defend his three 175lb straps against English hopeful Anthony Yarde (23-2, 22KOs). The records of both men strongly suggest that the judges won't be needed.
An early finish is likely, so don't miss a minute of the fight, which will screen on BT Sport (UK) and ESPN+ (USA).
Despite his advanced age of 38, Artur Beterbiev is one of the most intimidating fighters in boxing. After a long amateur campaign, he didn't turn professional until he was 28, which means Beterbiev marries his natural power with excellent technical skills. Despite the number of early stoppages on his record, the Russian-born Canadian citizen has a patient style in the ring. Once he has his opponent in trouble, though, it's time to say good night.
At 31 years old, Anthony Yarde has youth on his side in this fight. Unlike Beterbiev, London-born Yarde had a short stint in amateur boxing before becoming professional in 2015. Yarde feasted on below-average opposition during the first four years of his campaign, but the 17KO wins in 18 bouts earned him a shot at then light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in 2019. Yarde came up short that night, giving a good account of himself for eight rounds before tiring and being stopped in the eleventh round.
Will that experience and what has happened since help Yarde on Saturday night? Is IBF, WBO, and WBC title holder Beterbiev just too good to be beaten by a boxer with Yarde's skillset? Time to set the scene.
Beterbiev Aiming For Undisputed Status
Making his way to London from his home in Montreal, Beterbiev is looking to negotiate this defence of his titles against WBO mandatory challenger Yarde before moving on to fight WBA titlist Dmitry Bivol in an undisputed title fight later this year.
The formidable Dagestan-born fighter has been collecting professional world titles since 2017. Enrico Koelling was beaten in the final round that year as Beterbiev netted the IBF version of the crown.
2019 saw Beterbiev deliver possibly the best performance of his career in bettering then undefeated Oleksandr Gvozdyk. A close fight was unfolding before Beterbiev hammered the fighter known as “The Nail” in the tenth round. Gvozdyk hit the floor three times in that session before the bout was stopped, and Beterbiev added the WBC title to his collection.
Another big punching titleholder was defeated in Beterbiev's last outing. Joe Smith Jr. had fans in his home city of New York hopeful before reality set in. Beterbiev made an early breakthrough at the Madison Square Garden Theater, and after Smith Jr. was on the canvas for the third time inside the opening six minutes, the referee had seen enough. Smith's WBO title crossed the Canadian border with Beterbiev.
While a mandatory defence may not be as exciting as the ultimate goal of an undisputed showdown for Beterbiev, there is nothing to suggest he will have overlooked Yarde. Beterbiev always shows up focused and in shape. He shows up to ensure his opponent doesn't hear the final bell.
Criticism, Answering Adversity, and Quotations
For some reason, Beterbiev has a reputation for being slow. Slow of hand and foot and generally being a slow starter in fights. While his punches may not be lightning fast, they are timed to perfection; ask any of his previous opponents. The slow beginning to fights may be a more relevant point, however, his patient approach hasn't let him down so far.
Are there some chinks in his defence?
The unified champion has been down twice – against Jeff Page Jr. and Callum Johnson. Both times he shook off those setbacks and won convincingly. Page Jr. was knocked out in the following round of their 2014 tussle, while Johnson lasted a little longer – he was taken out in the fourth following his second-round put-down of Beterbiev in 2018.
Against Marcus Browne in 2021, Beterbiev suffered a deep cut on his forehead after a clash of heads. The wound bled profusely, but Beterbiev, fearing the bout could be stopped due to the cut, upped his intensity, and Browne was stopped in the ninth round. It seemed that even the possibility of the fight being taken from him inspired Beterbiev to find an even higher level of intensity.
According to the press release that went out when Beterbiev vs. Yarde was announced last year, the unified champion had this to say: “I look forward to fighting in London for the first time since the Olympics (2012). Yarde called me slow after my fight with Joe Smith Jr., but slow and steady wins the race. On January 28, I will win in London.”
Yarde Steps Up To World Level Again
As referenced in the introduction, this will be Anthony Yarde's second contest against a world champion. He will be looking to deliver in front of an enthusiastic crowd, but, despite home comforts, this is a tougher challenge than the one he faced against Kovalev in 2019.
Athletic and muscular – the knock against Yarde is that he doesn't have the stamina required to operate at the top level of boxing. His coach, Tunde Ajayi, often comes in for criticism for being too inexperienced to offer his charge any help against the elite fighters in his weight division. This may well be true, but Yarde has stuck by Ajayi. They are looking to shock the world on Saturday.
After being defeated by Kovalev, Yarde suffered another setback as domestic rival Lyndon Arthur outpointed him, despite only being able to throw his jab due to injury, in their December 2020 encounter. Yarde's boxing intelligence was called into question after this fight, along with Ajayi's ability to get his man to adjust tactically during a fight.
Yarde avenged the Arthur defeat, stopping his rival in the fourth round of their 2021 rematch, and now finds himself with the opportunity and challenge of a lifetime.
It will be interesting to see how Yarde approaches this fight. Will he look to ease himself into the contest and make use of his greater speed, or will he be in too much of a rush to exchange heavy fire with Beterbiev?
Either strategy is a possibility. Yarde's camp may be looking at Beterbiev's age and recent lack of activity as factors that could make the risk of pursuing a fast start worthwhile. Yarde carries power and can deliver to the head and body. If Beterbiev is slow to start, a sustained early offensive from Yarde may be his best hope of winning.
Some Thoughts From The Challenger
Saturday night is a fantastic opportunity for Anthony Yarde. With the chance to win three titles, it could be a life-changing night for the Englishman.
He's approaching the task with a confident mindset: “January 28 will be my night. My destiny is playing out in my home city. This is what I have been longing for throughout my professional career, which started at Wembley Arena,” Yarde was quoted as saying by sportingnews.com.
“I won't make any big predictions for this fight against a strong, unified champion in Artur Beterbiev, but what I will say is that I will leave nothing to chance, and I am at my best when I fight fire with fire.”
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) January 25, 2023
Artur Beterbiev vs. Anthony Yarde Prediction
However this one plays out, it should feature action and perhaps some highlight reel knockdowns. It may take a few rounds, but once it ignites, it will likely remain hot.
Yarde is a dangerous underdog, and the atmosphere in the arena will inspire him. The question mark surrounding his stamina and Beterbiev's ability just combine to make this too tough an ask for the home fighter, though.
Once he weathers the initial storm and gets a foothold in the fight, Artur Beterbiev will seize the momentum and stop Anthony Yarde in the fifth round of a highly entertaining fight.