By Brian Webber: Artur Beterbiev fights this Saturday, putting his three belts at light heavyweight on the line to defend his straps against Anthony Yarde.
Yarde (23-2, 22 KOs) will attempt to wrestle the IBF, WBC & WBO 175-lb belts from the unbeaten Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs), which figures to be a difficult task for their fight on Saturday live on ESPN+ at 2:30 p.m. ET from the OVO Arena in London, England.
The best wins on Yarde’s resume fall short of the level of Beterbiev, and him to handle this massive leap in competition, it will take an exceptional performance from him.
Yarde’s best career wins:
- Lyndon Arthur
- Dariusz Sęk
- Nikola Sjekloća
- Alex Theran
You don’t want to call those fighters C-level, but they fall short of being categorized as B-level. Perhaps you can call them C+ level fighters, which isn’t the preparation that Yarde needed to be ready to tackle a guy like Beterbiev.
The 31-year-old Yarde will be fighting at home and will likely have the crowd firmly in his favor unless they jump ship early and elect to root for Beterbiev.
It’s hard to tell how the fans will react, as Yarde hasn’t done much during his eight-year professional career to building a large following in the UK.
Yarde looking to shock the world
A victory for the 31-year-old Yarde would be a colossal shock to the boxing world because Beterbiev is supposed to win this fight with flying colors and move forward to the fight that everyone wants to see between him and WBA 175-lb champion Dmitry Bivol.
Can Yarde pull a shocker, or will Beterbiev steamroll him like he’s done his previous 18 opponents?
Full weigh-in results:
Artur Beterbiev 174.5 vs. Anthony Yarde 174 1/4
Moses Itauma 248 vs. Marcel Bode 220
Tommy Fletcher 199.4 vs. Darryl Sharp 188.5
Karol Itauma 174.1 vs. Ezequiel Maderna 174.7
Artem Dalakian 111.6 vs. David Jimenez 111.1
Incredibly, at 38, Beterbiev is fighting better now than when he was in his 20s, as he’s been making it look easy since his war with Oleksandr Gvozdyk in October 2019. Up until now, that was by far the toughest opponent of Beterbiev’s ten-year pro career.
Yarde will make it enjoyable early with his speed & power, but Beterbiev will catch him with a big shot on the inside by the third or fourth round, and then take him out.
It won’t be surprising if Yarde stuns Beterbiev with one of his big punches because he has more power and hand speed to connect with something that causes problems.
Beterbiev has the experience
With three world title belts and having competed in two Olympics, Beterbiev is light years ahead of the still-green 31-year-old Yarde in experience. While it sometimes doesn’t matter in boxing for a fighter to have a massive edge in experience, in this case, it does.
Yarde’s minimal amateur career, combined with the low-level opposition he’s fought in the pro ranks, puts him in a situation where he’s going to be facing a much more advanced fighter in Beterbiev.
“Nothing is a disadvantage. Everything is a lesson,” said Yarde’s manager & trainer, Tunde Ajayi to RingIQ TV about Anthony’s loss Sergey Kovalev in 2019. “It was quite obvious that we didn’t have enough experience the first time around.
“That was always hanging over our head, the lack of experience, but we never used that as an excuse. It was just that we didn’t have enough experience.
“Anthony has had less than 40 fights, and he’s had two world titles, amateur & professional. Everything has been a learning lesson and fast track based on Anthony’s ability, and again, we’re here on Saturday night.
“Absolutely solid & different because we now have James Cook with us,” said Tunde when asked how things are different this time around for Yarde’s second opportunity to fight for a world title.
“He showed us some of the old tricks, even in terms of press conferences and weigh-ins. It’s just wonderful. We’re definitely prepared. You can just look at him. You can feel the vibes,” said Tunde when asked if Yarde is more prepared. He’s very cool, calm & collected.
“From where I stand, he’s more than ready. It was his mentality that allowed him to take the leap that no other fighter was prepared to do,” Tunde said of Yarde being willing to travel to Russia to fight Sergey Kovalev in his hometown.
“We come from a place where we don’t get many opportunities. So when an opportunity arises, you have to take it because it’s only one life, so you have to take it. Everything in life is about the experiences that we have, and we look back, and it was a wonderful experience.
“I grew from it, and as you’ve seen in the public. Every fighter is different. Joe Smith isn’t Anthony Yarde. I’m not focused on their game plan. I’m focused on our game plan and fulfilling it,” said Tunde.