Preview: Yarde needs to go for broke if he is to tame Beterbiev
Artur Beterbiev seems close to unbeatable. If Anthony Yarde is to beat him on Saturday night, he’ll have to walk through fire.
Artur Beterbiev doesn’t seem human. Sure, he has been quick to refute this claim while fulfilling media duties this week – alluding to his softer side and giving us a small peak of the man he is outside of the ring – but, that’s what any nonhuman would do, right? Methinks the unified light-heavyweight champion doth protest too much…
His opponent this weekend, Anthony Yarde, will have to take Beterbiev at face-value if he has any chance of derailing what has become one of the most destructive trains the 175lb division has ever seen.
Yarde has to ignore the hype inside the Wembley Arena. Thousands – including myself – will be in attendance on Saturday purely to witness Beterbiev in the flesh, a far cry from the usual cult-hero–Briton vs derided-overseas-world-champion formula that sells so well to our passionate island. But this could work in his favour.
If it’s even possible, Beterbiev vs Yarde feels more like a traditional trade fight. It hasn’t benefited from the big marketing push in the United Kingdom – primarily as there is no pressure to sell pay-per-views – and there will be few casual fans aware of what is going down inside the OVO Arena come the opening bell.
There are fewer distractions. It’s strictly business.
Yarde (23-2, 22 KO) will have to put on the performance of his career if he is to come close to snatching the Russian’s titles away from him, and that’ll surely have to come via an early onslaught.
The Briton has to hurt Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KO) early in the contest to stand a chance of stopping the 38-year-old. But it’s not a case of throwing the kitchen sink with uncultured aggression. Yarde has to gamble, by hedging his bets.
Beterbiev is a ruthless counter-puncher and can often be wrongly pigeonholed into a come-forward slugger. His power doesn’t seem to wane throughout the 12-round distance and despite approaching his 40th year, doesn’t look close to receiving a call from Father Time. You can of course turn old overnight in boxing, but Yarde can’t plan for anything other than a champion at the top of his game.
We know Beterbiev can be hurt. Jeff Page Jr. and Callum Johnson have had him on the canvas, but he retaliated both times to end the fights in the second and fourth rounds. Yarde needs to load up and trust his reflexes to get out of range before the champion can return with heat.
It’s of course easier said than done. Yarde is a big guy and won’t see his chances improve the longer the fight goes on. He has claimed this week that it was hydration rather than stamina that saw him crumble at the hands of Sergey Kovalev in 2019, hinting that he hasn’t overly looked to improve his conditioning going into the championship rounds. The two times he has gone past the 10th round he has lost.
Joe Smith Jr. was too reckless in trying to execute a similar game plan the last time we saw Beterbiev inside the ring. Yarde should similarly attempt to turn this into a six-rounder, but not abandon his defences whilst implementing an attacking start. One punch can, of course, change a fight and Anthony Yarde’s finishing instincts are better than Callum Johnson’s. What Yarde lacks in amateur pedigree and boxing fundamentals he could well make up for in concussive power. It is also worth noting that the addition of James Cook to Yarde’s corner can be nothing but a positive considering the obsessive possession that Tunde Ajayi has had over his charge up until now.
9/2 (+450) says he can’t and he won’t. But we’ve seen enough boxing to know that these heavier weight classes can often spit in the face of sensible analysis.
Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the BWAA. Follow or contact him on Twitter @lewroyscribbles
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