Artur Beterbiev v Anthony Yarde – 5 things we learned.
- The Light heavyweights are back ! – Last Thursday we boldly announced the 175lb (12st, 7lbs) division was back in fashion. Saturday’s excellent contest between unified world champion Artur Beterbiev and contender Anthony Yarde confirmed the division is hot. It was a toe-to-toe contest in front of a captivated sold-out Wembley Arena, culminating in Russian, Beterbiev’s stoppage of the brave British challenger after 2:01 of the eighth round. This contest is added to by current Ring magazine Fighter of the Year Dmitry Bivol (also a 175 pounder), and numerous top British contenders at the weight.
- Anthony Yarde belongs – If there was any doubt Yarde was a genuine contender for the world title again, after his 2019 KO loss to Sergey Kovalev, then this was put to bed. He gave the outstanding Beterbiev a heck of a fight. Despite the Russian’s 100% KO record coming in, Yarde took the fight to him from the opening bell, showing a degree of control backed up by power punches belying his comparative little top level experience to the champion. Beterbiev has the benefit of 300+ amateur contests plus a now enhanced undefeated pro fight record. Yarde held his own throughout, winning the early rounds and on two official cards ahead in the fight before his being stopped. He shook Beterbiev with a big right hand cross midway in the fifth and it was only when the champion dug in and drew on his experience from then on in did he ultimately prevail.
- Artur Beterbiev may indeed be the best – We knew coming in he was a class act and his now 19-0 (19 KO’s) record supports this, but despite showing some vulnerability to a fighter who tried to out power him, he clearly had the chin and technical ability to prevail. The potential winner take all fight with Bivol (21-0, 11 KO’s) is now more mouthwatering than ever before. His Russian compatriot is coming hot off victories over Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and previously undefeated Gilberto Ramirez and riding on a crest of wave as The Ring 2022 Fighter of the Year, but Beterbiev enhanced his reputation in the UK and will not be overpowered by Bivol. Beterbiev can be one paced and at 38 is not going to massively improve, but he would now be a strong candidate for gaining undisputed status.
- Quality fights will bring them back – It’s popular consensus that Saturday’s contest is an early candidate for 2023 Fight of the Year, no more so than by correspondents of The Ring -‘Bible of Boxing’. Going in, this had all the makings of a quality match-up but it surpassed expectations. The ding-dong fifth round was superb. Despite no knockdowns until the eighth round finish it continually ebbed and flowed and had enough action to captivate viewers both at Wembley and watching on BT Sport in the UK. A close friend of this writer, who, over recent years has become disillusioned with the sport, summed up Saturday saying the “Fight was brilliant. It restored my faith in boxing”. That must be a good thing if only a message to its champions to take their titles overseas and for promoters to make the matches that matter and are going to bring people back. Non-pay-per-view/box office and including in existing satellite subscriptions or, God forbid, free-to-air, would also help restore the sport to its former relevance and glories.
- Wembley Arena remains a mecca of British boxing – The history of Wembley Arena enhanced the sense of occasion on Saturday. The merest mention of Alan Minter v Marvin Hagler and sniff of Henry Cooper v Joe Bugner, Frank Bruno, John Conteh, Herol Graham and Charlie Magri et al, made the evening special. In the modern day of multi-purpose indoor arenas and odd outdoor stadium events it was wonderful to have a genuine world title fight at the old venue. Long may it be considered and it continue in our list of iconic fight site alternatives. A great fight on a thoroughly good boxing night.