Anthony Yarde Has Great Fighter/History Both Against Him
If English Light-Heavyweight Anthony Yarde can find a way to defeat Russian born and unified World Champion Artur Beterbiev at Wembley Arena this weekend, the victory will sit snugly alongside a small cohort of similarly astonishing wins by British fighters.
Traditionalists will argue Beterbiev isn’t Donald Curry, the famous Welterweight of the 80s demolished by Lloyd Honeyghan, which is true, he’s better. There is an argument that Jose Napoles’ longevity and home advantage made John H. Stacey’s 1975 knockout of the veteran great all the more remarkable.
However, neither Honeyghan nor Stacey lacked the experience or acumen in anything like the same way the 31-year-old Anthony Yarde does. To win, Yarde will need to perform a leap of Bob Beamon dimension in order to transcend the chasm that exists between him and the fearsome IBF, WBC and WBO champion.
Just 90 rounds to show for an entire professional career, although paradoxically seven more than his highly decorated opponent, is by convention, an inadequate body of work on which to forge his challenge. It isn’t merely the lack of quantity.
Watch a full preview of Beterbiev vs. Yarde from Dan Rafael and T.J. Rives on the BetUS TV Boxing show seen Fridays by clicking below,
The key difference, as with most things in life, is in the detail. Yarde began as a professional after just 12 Amateur fights. A little heat beneath those dozen fixtures following his knockout run in the Haringey Cup, but an Olympics it was not. A stage Beterbiev has twice competed on in an Amateur career with only a handful of defeats in more than 300 contests, including a close encounter at London 2012 with Oleksander Usyk in the Heavyweight division.
In comparison, Yarde’s career has also lacked the usual stepping stones associated with a Frank Warren prospect. Those progressive, preparatory opponents, occasionally repetitive, that pose different challenges and rising levels of jeopardy. The former champions, the world weary WBO contenders.
Modern boxing, with its lower levels of activity, is requiring matchmakers and promoters like Warren to adapt this time honoured methodology.
Fighters are leaping toward title fights much earlier in their careers in terms of number of fights. Where once fighters would build a 30-fight record under his stewardship, developing through the levels, fighting several times in each of the early years of their career, increasingly fighters box less frequently. Opportunities arrive sooner, for better or worse.
Even within this contemporary landscape Yarde, given his lack of Amateur grounding, is an outlier. His natural gifts of power and speed , alongside his broad, chiselled physique firstly permit him to score spectacular knockouts of circuit journeymen with pretty records compiled in European gym fights and simultaneously convince the casual fan he was more dangerous than he actually was.
His trainer, Tunde Ajaye, a enigmatic curio on the fringes of the boxing mainstream, adds and distracts from this perception. In Yarde’s brave, but ultimately failed attempt to beat a jaded Sergey Kovalev on 2019, he demonstrated some of those physical attributes in the 8th round. Following the instruction to “empty the tank” imposed by Ajaye, Yarde chased the veteran around the ring landing multiple power shots and flying close to an incredible upset win. For a moment, the superficiality of the potential he’d shown in fights was substantiated. It proved fleeting, tank emptied, Kovalev finished his prey in the 11th.
The tactics Yarde will deploy on Saturday are hard to predict. In part because of the gulf of ability and experience between the two and Ajaye’s peculiar input at key moments. Warren is a master of picking the right time, and aged 38 Beterbiev is not in his physical prime. Most of the miles were accumulated as an Amateur, his 18 fights in a 10 year professional career- all won by stoppage – haven’t added much to the odometer.
In his last fight, a demolition of rugged WBO Champion Joe Smith Jr in two rounds last summer, he showed no evidence of decline. Subsequent surgery delayed this fight, but if Yarde’s chances hinge on Beterbiev ‘growing old’, it seems optimistic.
That theory, that Beterbiev is fading, could encourage early attacks and the use of Yarde’s speed and power or it may encourage the notion that waiting until later in the fight will be a fruitful strategy.
The idea Yarde can avoid heavy exchanges and outbox such a decorated Amateur until late in the fight seems fanciful. It isn’t Yarde’s style either.
It is entirely more plausible Yarde has no element of surprise, lacks the footwork to avoid a fire fight and in any attempt to match Beterbiev’s superior technique and power in both hands, the fight can only end badly for the Englishman.
Beterbiev will get the job done and move on, probably in middle rounds rather than later rounds in an entertaining punch up.