British promoter Frank Warren realizes that he needs to be extra prudent in the matchmaking for his charge Anthony Yarde, since it appears that the hard hitting light heavyweight contender is on the cusp of another shot at a divisional title – or possibly three.
In a recent interview, Warren said he expects Yarde, the number one-ranked contender within the WBO, to face the winner of the light heavyweight unification bout between WBO titlist Joe Smith Jr. and IBF and WBC titlist Artur Beterbiev, which will reportedly take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City in the summer.
Should that fight materialize, Yarde (22-2, 21 KOs) would have an opportunity to collect three of the four major 175-pound titles.
Warren sounded confident about his chances to make that fight – and for good reason. Warren has a close relationship with Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc., who promotes both 32-year-old Smith (28-3, 22 KOs) and 37-year-old Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs), both regarded as fearsome punchers. The Queensberry Promotions head said he not only received a commitment from his partner to pair the winner with Yarde but to also stage that fight in the UK, where Yarde lives.
“I’m looking forward to that fight that Top Rank are putting on in June,” Warren told SecondsOut.com. “We’ve got an agreement with them that the winner will fight our man and we’ll do that over here [in the UK].”
Given the stakes, Warren obviously wants to minimize any risks that could threaten Yarde’s top seeding and a shot at the title.
“He’s obviously the number one challenger to the winner of Joe Smith and [Beterbiev],” Warren said. “Obviously, we don’t want to jeopardize our position.”
In the meantime, Yarde may find himself lingering on the sidelines a bit longer than usual.
Yarde, a native of London, has reinvented himself to a degree after a pair of losses. The first loss came via a punishing knockout at the hands of Sergey Kovalev in 2019, when Kovalev still held the WBO 175-pound title. Three fights later, in December 2020, Yarde suffered another defeat, this time against countryman Lyndon Arthur, who won a split decision.
Yet Yarde, 30, was able to exact a measure of revenge in the rematch held last December, exactly a year later, stopping Arthur in dominant fashion inside four rounds at Copper Box Arena in London. Since then Yarde, who has regained the number one spot within the WBO, has been biding his time, hoping to gain a piece of the title action once again.