A world title belt used to be the most respected and hard earned prize in the sporting world.
Winning a world title is still a massive achievement but nowadays, belts fly around like confetti. Some are even handed out via email.
“It’s a tough task – but I’m confident in Anthony”
True world title fights – the type that feel like the world has stopped to watch – are all too rare but when they do come around, they feel special.
Anthony Yarde ran the gauntlet in his first world title bid when he took on the outstanding Sergey Kovalev in Russia. This weekend he faces one of the most difficult and intimidating challenges in world boxing.
The fearsome Artur Beterbiev is in town to put his three world light heavyweight titles on the line and the Canadian-based Russian will also be defending his perfect professional record. 18 fights, 18 victories, 18 knockouts. It is a can’t-miss affair. For the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
“Anthony’s got a very tough task. He’s taking on the guy who’s got three belts but I’ve got confidence in him,” show promoter Frank Warren told 32Red. “We’ve done our best for him. We wanted to get the fight here in the UK – which we’ve done – and now it’s all there for him to do. He’s been very confident when I’ve spoken with him and he’s really up for this fight.”
“These are two massive punchers”
Being up for the fight will certainly be crucial – Yarde is going to need hold on to every ounce of ambition to carry him through some tough moments – but he will also need to lean on the experience he gained in his brave but unsuccessful bid for Kovalev’s WBO title if he is to cause an upset. Yarde undoubtedly has the speed and power to hurt Beterbiev. But he must be smart and and pick the right moments to let his hands go. Yarde has to produce the most complete performance of his career to even be competitive.
“I think he learned a lot from the night he went to fight Kovalev. He knows he could have won that fight and I do believe he’s learned from it and he’s had those personal tragedies when he lost members of his family during COVID,” Warren said. “He’s a phenomenal athlete. He was a rugby player, he was an athlete and you can see he’s fit just by looking at him. I just feel that if he catches Beterbiev like Callum Johnson did, I think he’ll go. Don’t get me wrong, the fella’s not bad himself is he? It’s two massive, big punchers.
“This fella’s an Eastern European and they usually have a certain style but he’s based elsewhere these days. I do think he’s gonna be caught and I know that if Anthony does catch him, he will hurt him. There’s no doubt about that.
“I wanna see him work behind his jab and let the big punches come from there, whether that’s in the first round or whenever. As long as he’s tucking up and not leaving himself exposed. The other fella is a good boxer as well as a good puncher so he’s gotta tuck up, sit on his elbows and work off the jab and let the big shots go.
“If he clips Beterbiev with a couple of shots, he will definitely get his respect.”
“I think Yarde can become a huge star”
If Yarde does end Saturday night posing for photos with three world title belts, he will have pulled off one of the best ever victories by a British fighter. Beterbiev is seen by many as the most destructive puncher in the sport and – based on his training videos – possesses some otherworldly strength. Apart from a couple of early round knockdowns – to Jeff Page and Johnson – he has looked truly formidable.
There can be no after timing here, if Yarde pulls off the victory it will be a stunning achievement and the type of result that will catapult him to worldwide fame.
“I think it’d be huge. It’d be right up there with all of them. Beterbiev has a tremendous amateur record, he’s 18-0 as a professional and Anthony’s a big underdog. If he pulls it off it’s up there in the top eight or so of fights where the underdogs have come through and I think while it lasts its gonna be exciting,” Warren said.
“I think he can become a huge star. He’s got a lovely personality, he’s a nice kid. Please God he does come through and I think he can really establish himself.”
“Itauma is one of the best signings I’ve ever had”
Moses Itauma will make one of the most eagerly awaited heavyweight debuts for a long time on the undercard this weekend. The 18-year-old has already given fighters like Joe Joyce, Daniel Dubois, Lawrence Okolie and Anthony Joshua plenty to think about during sparring sessions. His decision to turn professional was accompanied by a series of press releases stating his ambition to beat the legendary Mike Tyson’s record and become the youngest heavyweight champion in history.
It is an amazingly ambitious target. But if rumours emanating from gyms and his brief, trophy-laden amateur career are anything to go on, maybe it isn’t so far fetched. Warren can’t wait to see his new asset in action.
“I think he’s one of the best signings I’ve made. I think I would say he’s one of the top three signings I’ve ever had turning professional.
“This is what he wants [to break Tyson’s record]. I’ll be having a look at him in each fight. The other thing we have to be very careful of is not burning him out. You have to remember his age. If I feel he can do it then I’m gonna let him do it.”