Bob Arum says Beterbiev vs. Anthony Yarde agreed for fall in London if Artur defeats Joe Smith Jr tonight
By Charles Brun: Promoter Bob Arum says Artur Beterbiev has already agreed to travel to London, England to defend his light heavyweight titles against WBO mandatory Anthony Yarde in October, should he defeat World Boxing Organization 175-lb champion Joe Smith Jr. tonight.
Boxing fans want to see the Beterbiev-Smith winner fight WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol for the undisputed championship rather than watching them destroy the badly flawed Yarde, who is an easy mark for either champ.
Yarde is a poor fighter who is arguably not even the second-best light heavyweight in the UK. Joshua Buatsi is a far better fighter than Yarde, and Craig Richards is superior to him in Charles Brun’s book.
It’s not all that surprising that Arum isn’t eager to let the Beterbiev vs. Smith Jr. winner face Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) because he already beat Joe Smith Jr. in 2019, and he’s a wrong style match-up for Beterbiev, who isn’t quick on his feet and doesn’t throw combinations.
There’s an excellent chance Bivol easily beats the Beterbiev-Smith Jr winner. Hence, he’s not going to be given an opportunity by Arum to do that because he’s already picked out a Yarde for them to tear apart in a sure-thing win.
Yarde (22-2, 21 KOs) will be ringside tonight scouting the Beterbiev vs. Smith fighters. He will likely enter the ring immediately after the contest to promote his title challenge against the winner.
It’s a highly questionable move on Arum’s part to have the Beterbiev-Smith winner take on Yarde, given that the WBO mandatory isn’t due yet, and hasn’t been ordered. In other words, this would be a voluntary defense for the Beterbiev vs. Smith winner, which makes it pointless.
Yarde already challenged unsuccessfully for a world title against a past his prime WBO 175-lb champion Sergey Kovalev in 2019 and was knocked out by a jab in the 11th round. Apart from a bit of success in the eighth round, Yarde looked terrible against Kovalev and was dominated throughout.
Some boxing fans see Yarde as little more than a British domestic-level fighter, a guy beating opposition from the UK and other parts of Europe.
IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) is facing WBO champ Smith Jr. (28-3, 22 KOs) in a unification match tonight on ESPN+ and ESPN at Madison Square Garden in New York. Three titles will be on the line for the contest.
“Frank [Warren] is a mate of mine, and we’ve endeavored to have the winner of this fight [Beterbiev vs. Smith Jr] to fight Yarde in the UK in London sometime in the Fall,” said Bob Arum to Frank Warren’s Queensbury Promotions.
“So, we’ve been able to talk to the Beterbiev people, and that deal is done, but we have a co-promoter with Joe Smith, Joe DeGaurdia, so we’ll have to sit down and talk with them. But that would be my goal that whoever wins this fight [Beterbiev s. Smith] to go over to London to fight Yarde.
“To be honest, the only fight I’ve seen him in is with [Sergey] Kovalev,” Arum said about the 30-year-old Yarde, who was knocked out by a past his best Kovalev in the 11th round in 2019.
“Well, Frank [Warren] is a good boxing guy, and he says Yarde is an accomplished fighter, which I believe he is. He’s #1 with the WBO. So rather than waiting for the WBO to say it’s a mandatory fight, we just make a deal and put it in the UK in the fall, probably in October.
“No, I just think there are a tremendous number of boxing fans in the UK, and I think it’ll do best from a revenue standpoint,” said Arum when asked if this is a move by him to try and build Beterbiev’s brand in the UK.
So there it is. Arum wants Beterbiev to fight Yarde next in the UK because of the revenue. It’s also a great fight for Beterbiev to get an easy win against a fighter that is still green despite being 30 years old.
Yarde hasn’t advanced as a fighter, which isn’t surprising given that he’s being fed domestic-level opposition instead of taking on the best at 175. If Yarde had been matched against Richards, Buatsi, David Benavidez, or Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez, he’d have been sent into retirement by now.
“We’ll do it on a Saturday evening in the UK, and we’ll send it back here [to the U.S] on ESPN or ESPN+, and it’ll be in the afternoon,” said Arum. “People forget that in the 70s and 80s, we did so many fights across the pond, whether it was France or Germany, England or Italy.”
U.S boxing fans aren’t familiar with Yarde, so it’s a waste of time for Beterbiev or Smith to fight him other than for revenue purposes from the UK money they’ll get.
Again, the fight that would help Beterbiev or Smith make the most money would be for them to fight WBA champion Bivol because if they beat him, Canelo Alvarez would be a possibility.
There’s A LOT more money for the Beterbiev-Smith winner to make fighting Canelo than there is facing Yarde.
Of course, if Arum lacks the confidence that Beterbiev or Smith can beat Bivol, then it makes perfect sense for the winner to be taking the easy option by defending against Yarde, who would have next to no chance of beating either fighter.
“We did those fights in the afternoon in the U.S because of the difference in time,” said Arum.” So again, I don’t think that’s an impediment at all. The Boxing Board of Control cooperates with us so that we can have neutral judges for the fight, so the ring is the same.
“‘I don’t want to go to England because it’s too much of an advantage,’ but guys like Joe Smith and Beterbiev are too smart for that. They know as long as you level the playing field, it’s not going to be an advantage, particularly for Yarde.
“He’s the beast. You give him another opponent, and he looks at it like another meal,” Arum said when asked what Beterbiev’s view about going to England to fight UK fighter Yarde on his home turf.
“Well, we’ll have two beasts in the ring, what could be worst?” said Arum when told that the 30-year-old Yarde is called ‘The Beast’ as well.
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