AFTER serving up eight thrilling rounds punctuated by some of the best light-heavyweight action London has ever seen, Artur Beterbiev and Anthony Yarde came face to face again in the bowels of the Wembley Arena once all the shouting had stopped.
“We both ended up with stitches,” Yarde said afterwards from behind dark sunglasses. “We were sat in the same medical room getting them done together.
“I have sunglasses on now because sometimes the vanity kicks in and you don’t want anyone to see these cuts and bruises.”
Yarde had fought valiantly until the end, which came 2:01 into round eight, and stood up to the WBO, IBF and WBC champion’s power like nobody has over the course of his previous 18 fights - and 18 wins - as a professional.
But despite his bravery, and the mass of respect he garnered from every corner of the boxing world in defeat, Yarde is acutely aware that his record in world title challenges is now 0-2 following on from his 11th round stoppage to Sergey Kovalev in 2019.
He said: “I have a winner’s mentality so I wanted to bring home those unified three world titles but this is boxing, the hardest sport in the world. I thought I was going to do it, I thought ‘I’ve got him’.
“He had me in a corner and was hitting me with a lot of hard shots but I thought, if I just keep moving, I can do it.
“I was pacing myself, having learned from past experiences. But then I hit him and he hit me back!
“In Russia against Kovalev it was different. I have grown since then. A lot of people get push-overs for their world titles, I keep getting these monster Russians with the muscles and abs.
“But that’s boxing and God gives his toughest battles to his strongest warriors. I am strong in heart and mind and I have bettered my family’s life.
“We are better off than we were before and I will be back. I am so ambitious and don’t lie to or bullsh!t myself, I am a real character. I really thought I could win.”
Yarde was dropped for the first and only time in the fight midway through the eighth when he attempted to throw a right uppercut but was countered by an overhand right from the champion.
Another hook from Beterbiev then sent him stumbling down and, although he rose to his feet to beat the count, Yarde’s trainer Tunde Ajayi had climbed onto the ring apron to request a stoppage.
Of the knockdown, Yarde explained: “I watched clips where he dips and throws the over-hand right but he threw it and caught me.
“I heard the count start, I took my time, I beat the count, but my trainer and my team love me and said they were seeing something they didn’t like.
“All I was thinking was ‘get up, go at him again, hit him with anything’. But it was called off and I am able to speak and laugh about it now so we live to fight another day.”
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