NEW YORK–Anthony Yarde has been down this road before.
The British light heavyweight contender was practically smacking his lips in anticipation of his potential fight with Artur Beterbiev, the Russian bruiser, who added the WBO title to his WBC and IBF versions last Saturday night with a second-round stoppage of Joe Smith Jr. The win reinforced the notion that Beterbiev, who owns a perfect bout-to-knockout ratio, is one of the more ruthless fighters currently operating in boxing.
The 30-year-old, London-born Yarde was ringside to witness Beterbiev’s latest devastation on the canvas, but instead of turning away from the carnage he was smiling from ear to ear, with his gnomic trainer Tunde Ajayi by his side.
“As I said before I thought it was going to be a fantastic fight,” Yarde told BoxingScene.com. “Good entertainment. And I told you there was going to be a knockout.”
“Are there concerns?” Yarde retorted when asked if there was any apprehension on his part. “There are no concerns. No concerns. This is the sport of boxing.”
Yarde, the WBO mandatory, will likely face the Montreal-based Beterbiev in Yarde’s hometown of London in October, at least according to Beterbiev’s promoter, Bob Arum, who reiterated that he was close to finalizing that fight with Yarde’s promoter Frank Warren.
Should the fight happen as planned, it will not be the first time that Yarde has faced a formidable Russian champion. In 2019, the untested Brit flew to Russia to fight then WBO-titlist Sergey Kovalev, once the crème de la crème of the 175-pound class. Yarde, known for his punching prowess, had Kovalev in dire straits in the middle rounds but was unable to sustain his momentum, succumbing, eventually, to an 11th-round stoppage.
In retrospect it was a valuable lesson for Yarde, who found himself musing on "strong Russian fighters" after Beterbiev's performance.
“What I took away from it is what we already know,” Yarde said. “Beterbiev is a heavy hitter. A strong Russian. The Russian system, they know how to land their punches. He’s 18-0, with 18 KOs. I think it’s an even more exciting matchup.”