Artur Beterbiev emerged victorious over Anthony Yarde last night after going to war with the Brit for eight rounds to retain the IBF, WBO and WBC Light Heavyweight Championships.
Leading up to this fight, many believed Beterbiev would run through Yarde like a hot knife through butter. However, from the opening bell, it was clear the Canadian-Russian would experience one of the toughest fights of his professional career.
Yarde, 31 years old, is seven years younger than the 38-year-old Beterbiev and the disparity in youth was evident in the first couple of rounds when the Brit appeared to be the faster and more athletic boxer in the ring. ‘The Beast’ opted to box on the back foot and landed a few powerful left hooks on Beterbiev’s temple as he rushed forward.
Beterbiev was able to land his own power punches on Yarde, especially a few right hands and left hooks when his opponent was against the ropes. Nevertheless, Yarde showed his chin was strong enough to stand up to Beterbiev’s power.
In round five, Yarde landed one of the best punches of the fight, a straight right-hand that staggered Beterbiev and forced him to hold. After moving around the ring and regaining his senses, it was Artur Beterbiev who finished the round on a better note as he forced Yarde into a corner and hurt him with venomous uppercuts.
The next round saw both men starting to feel the pace as they landed power punches on each other in the middle of the ring. And in round seven, the momentum kept swinging like a pendulum as Yarde seemed to hurt Beterbiev momentarily, yet the unified light heavyweight champion then fired back and began unloading bombs.
Beterbiev then finally found the shot he was looking for all night in round eight when he connected with a devastating right-hand, before following up with another right-hand and forcing Yarde to stagger down to the canvas.
‘The Beast’ bravely got to his feet but Beterbiev continued to unleash punishment for a few seconds until Yarde’s trainer, Tunde Ajayi, got up on the ring apron and prompted the referee to stop the contest.
To Yarde’s disappointment, he failed to capture a world title on his second attempt. Regardless, the man who grew up on a council estate in Hackney, displayed outstanding heart, punching power, boxing skills and a strong chin to rightly be regarded as one of the best light heavyweights in the world.
Meanwhile, Beterbiev showcased why he has the highest knockout ratio of any current world champion and is now undefeated in 19 fights. The Canadian-Russian undoubtedly has immense power in both hands, yet he is also blessed with superb boxing IQ and a strong chin of his own.
What’s next for Artur Beterbiev?
After retaining his titles, there is arguably only fight left for Artur Beterbiev and that is a unification fight against fellow Russian Dmitry Bivol. Bivol holds the remaining WBA strap and it is possible the pair could face each other in late 2023 or early 2024.
Both undefeated and recognised as two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, a bout between them would confirm who is the king of the 175 lb division.
Another potential bout for Artur Beterbiev is against Canelo Alvarez. Alvarez famously moved up to 175 lbs to challenge Bivol for the WBA Light Heavyweight Championship back in May 2022 and was convincingly beaten. However, the Mexican superstar may fancy a fight against Beterbiev who is not as hard to hit or as fresh as the 32-year-old Bivol.
From Beterbiev’s point of view, a fight against Alvarez could be the ideal way to leave the sport on a lucrative note by facing one of the most popular and successful boxers in the world.