World championship boxing returns to the United Kingdom for the first time in 2023 when Artur Beterbiev defends his IBF, WBO and WBC light heavyweight titles against Anthony Yarde in London.
Already this is a good fight, it’s a contest which will instantly catch fire and their styles will gel, but I can’t see this clash going past six rounds.
The big question going in is whether Yarde has caught Beterbiev at the right time?
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Age is all but a number for the defending champion however, he’s an absolute best. Beterbiev is arguably the best pound-for-pound puncher out there and is a freak of nature, even if you just watch his training methods and see what he gets up to in the gym.
This will not be the first time Beterbiev has come up against a Brit. He went head-to-head with Callum Johnson in 2018 and Johnson did make Beterbiev look vulnerable after knocking him down in the second, but the 38-year-old was able to get the job done, and Yarde will be hoping he can do one better on Saturday night.
But what makes Beterbiev a destructive force inside the ring?
It’s his commitment to the shot, the full rotation and Beterbiev doesn’t hold back.
I also feel that Beterbiev likes to fully concentrate on himself, unlike some fighters who concentrate too much on what their opponent is going to do. I’m not saying Beterbiev completely disregards his opponent, but he goes in there and does what he wants to do, and lets his opponent worry about him.
Yarde may be considered a huge underdog for this fight, but he’s no stranger to the big stage after facing Sergey Kovalev in 2019. This experience will be invaluable and despite being stopped in round 11 by Kovalev, it will fuel that desire to right the wrongs and get the win.
I too have used this to my advantage. When I fought Sergio Martinez, I came up short, but when I faced Daniel Geale, I leant on that experience of going toe-to-toe with an elite level fighter which made me want to go one better.
Tactically, Yarde has got to be smart, set the pace without throwing too much. This means using plenty of feints, making Beterbiev throw and miss, and then fire back with counters. Yarde also cannot afford to give too much ground, although this will be easier said than done.
If Yarde can weather the early storm in the first six rounds or so, the second half of the fight could be Yarde’s, but I just don’t see that happening. The British star could stop Beterbiev early and catch him cold, but it’s a question as to whether he can stay away from Beterbiev’s power for that long, and I just feel that at some point in the sixth Yarde will get caught.
Regardless of the outcome, Saturday night is set to be a special moment for British boxing and if Yarde manages to produce a major upset, it will certainly be one of the biggest wins on these shores.