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Artur Beterbiev v Anthony Yarde: Rob Tebbutt's fight preview

Our resident boxing expert Rob Tebbutt previews this weekend's huge light-heavyweight world title fight as one of boxing's pound-for-pound stars headlines in London.

It is a very rare treat that a legitimate, pound-for-pound level fighter visits our shores. Although in recent years, British boxing fans have been spoilt!

We have had evenings with Oleksandr Usyk, Vasiliy Lomachenko and Gennady Golovkin, all of which have come over and won in convincing fashion against the best the UK has to offer.

This weekend, Artur Beterbiev (1/7) joins that list when he defends his WBC/WBO/IBF/Ring Magazine and Lineal light-heavyweight titles against 9/2 shot Anthony Yarde in the latter’s home city of London.

Beterbiev, a Russian now residing in Canada, is arguably the most formidable visitor out of the lot. 

With a perfect unbeaten record consisting of 18 wins - all by knockout - the 38-year-old is considered by many to be the hardest puncher in the entire sport. All of his work is effortless, never loading up and always finding the target with minimal effort and maximum damage.

A veteran of a 300 (295-5) fight amateur career that saw him win European and World Championship gold, Beterbiev boasts wins over Sergey Kovalev, Michael Hunter and unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk in the unpaid ranks.

When compared with the modest amateur track record of Yarde, as well as their exploits as a professional, it is no surprise that the Brit is the significant 9/2 underdog going into Saturday’s bout.

Fans and pundits of the sport have long lamented the matchmaking of Yarde, criticising his level of opponent throughout his career and questioning whether he has gathered the necessary experience to topple the division’s elite.

After a spirited-yet-unsuccessful challenge for Sergey Kovalev’s WBO light-heavyweight title in August 2019, Yarde would go on to drop a disappointing split decision to Lyndon Arthur three fights later. 

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For many, he had been ‘exposed’ and his prospects of returning to the top level seemed remote.

However, a blistering stoppage win in the return bout against Arthur has seen Yarde once again positioned for a crack at world honours. He enters the bout against Beterbiev a more experienced, better fighter who by and large seems far better equipped for a second title tilt.

The problem for Yarde, is it is against a formidable opponent in Beterbiev - who is priced at 3/10 to notch up another KO victory.

The English fighter impressed against Kovalev in Chelyabinsk and came within a whisker of scoring a shock stoppage before running out of gas - but this is a different proposition altogether. 

Beterbiev looked phenomenal in destroying Joe Smith Jr. in two rounds last time out, and has looked virtually unbeatable since Callum Johnson sent him to the canvas back in October 2018. 

He has blasted his way through the light-heavyweight division in merciless fashion, and is a significant favourite to do the same to Yarde this weekend.

In the four-belt era, with world title shots dished out with more regularity than ever and with promoters navigating the safest route to silverware, Yarde’s two world title bouts come against two bonafide modern greats at 175lbs. It is difficult to recall two tougher tasks than Kovalev and Beterbiev.

The Londoner deserves tremendous credit for his bravery in taking on not one, but two of the best fighters of his era - but the fact remains he enters the bout on Saturday as a sizeable underdog. 

For Yarde to survive the full twelve rounds against Beterbiev would be shocking enough: a win is almost unthinkable!

Any man can be hurt, and Beterbiev has shown he is no different. He touched the canvas against Johnson and early on in his career against Jeff Page Jr., and Yarde, 7/1 to score a KO victory of his own, has good hand-speed and punching power. 

It isn’t outside the realms of possibility he could catch Beterbiev, but keeping him down is another story. 

Should ‘The Beast From The East’ pull off the upset, it would rank among the greatest wins by a British fighter, home or away.

Yarde and his trainer, manager and mentor Tunde Ajayi have long-spoken of their destiny to become world champion. The date with destiny is here. 

"Everything is timing" - and the time is now…

Full London Fight Card

Artur Beterbiev (1/7) v Anthony Yarde (9/2)
(WBC, IBF & WBO light heavyweight titles)
View latest odds
Artem Dalakian (5/7) v David Jimenez (1/1) 
(WBA flyweight title)
View latest odds
Willy Hutchinson v Emil Markic
(Light-heavyweight bout)
View latest odds
Karol Itauma (1/50) v Ezequiel Maderna (14/1)
(Light-heavyweight bout)
View latest odds
Charles Frankham (1/50) v Joshua Ocampo (14/1)
(Super-featherweight bout)
View latest odds
Umar Khan (1/33) v Sandeep Singh Bhatti (11/1)
(featherweight bout)
View latest odds

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