Tuesday, March 28, 2023  |


Artur Beterbiev retains light heavyweight crowns with exciting win over brave Anthony Yarde

Artur Beterbiev on the attack vs. the very game Anthony Yarde during their light heavyweight title bout at OVO Arena Wembley in London, England. Photo by James Chance/Getty Images
Fighters Network

LONDON – Unified light-heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev scored the 19th early win of his 19-fight pro career but it was challenger Anthony Yarde who came away with the credit in the aftermath of an eight-round war.

Beterbiev, The Ring’s No. 2-rated light heavyweight, had his hands full with a ferocious, game and courageous contender (Ring’s No. 7) who matched him every step of the way until Yarde was withdrawn by his corner having touched down in the decisive eighth round.

Afterwards, Russ Anber, in Beterbiev’s corner, said they were thankful that Yarde’s attempt to take the titles was over, and that Beterbiev had to find fifth gear by the fourth when he only often needs it in the eighth, if his fights go that long. Anber heralded Yarde as Beterbiev’s bravest opponent.

Yarde’s speed and mobility earned him success that caused the champion’s face to redden but Beterbiev menacingly managed to maneuver his challenger to the ropes and into corners.

The pair swapped plenty of leather in the second. Beterbiev landed a crisp right but Yarde, back to the ropes, fired back, yet the Russian went on to land a right uppercut and a jarring jab before the session concluded.

It was intense and you couldn’t take your eyes off it. Yarde momentarily lost his mouthpiece at the start of the third, and the pace slowed in that round, which suited the more methodical Russian who maintained his calm and composed demeanor.

Beterbiev came out aggressively in the fourth, troubled Yarde in the early going and while the Londoner gamely fought back there were signs that the challenger was starting to tire. Yarde’s mouth was open as he gulped for air and lumps and bumps started to form on his face and across his forehead.

Yarde lost his mouthpiece as the fifth opened, too. “That’s a second time,” yelled Beterbiev’s corner to referee Steve Gray. Yarde landed a good right but was clipped by a left as he tried to follow up. Still, a terrific Yarde right brought the crowd to its feet and caused the decibel level in the Wembley Arena to climb several notches and as Yarde continued to hammer away, Beterbiev caught him in the Russian’s corner and let his own hurtful shots go in a cracking round.

Yarde’s right eye was beginning to close and he took another hard right as the sixth commenced. Yarde was still scoring; a right, a left hook, a jab, all jolted the champion’s head back without causing Beterbiev to show any distress and Yarde landed a nice right to the body but Beterbiev caught him with a left hook almost instantaneously.

The Russian’s eye needed to be worked on by cornerman Anber ahead of the seventh and Yarde lashed in a right hand and left hook as the Russian knockout machine started to look more and more human. Then the fight got wild. Beterbiev’s normally jarring blows didn’t dent Yarde, who tried to meet fire with fire – and he did just that. Yarde battled through the Russian’s combinations and then survived a spell of sustained pressure in the corner, coming out gunning with a superb right uppercut. It was incredible stuff and then, just like that, it was over.

Yarde had begun to show a risky contempt for the champion’s power and, after 2:01 of Round 8, Beterbiev detonated a right hand as the Londoner tried to unload an uppercut. Beterbiev chased the falling Briton, but the shot needed no further encouragement and Yarde went down, falling unceremoniously to the canvas. He took his time rising, clearly shaken, but as Beterbiev steamed in to finish the job, the official saw Yarde’s coach on the ring apron and accepted his surrender.

Beterbiev dropped to the floor in an exhausted prayer and Yarde complained that he could have gone on, and he could have, but whether or not he should have is definitely an argument that will remain open to debate. Two judges had Yarde up by the end, but those cards were made redundant and even the partisan London fans did not complain having witnessed such a tremendous battle. Yarde had been gallant and spirited, Beterbiev was just a bridge too far.

Yarde’s previous attempt at a world title ended in defeat when he lost to Sergey Kovalev in Russia in 2019. Yarde is now 23-3.

Ukraine’s WBA flyweight champion Artem Dalakian improved to 22-0 (15) with a decision win over Costa Rican David Jimenez

He retained by margins of 115-113 (twice) and 116-112, which matched The Ring’s scorecard.

The fight was competitive but the classier work was done by the champion who was happy to box on the back foot but trade if he felt the need to.

Jimenez had occasional success to the body but he found Dalakian hard to pin down, despite his best efforts and even though the challenger regularly tracked Dalakian into corners, he was unable to make the pressure count.

Jimenez was cut on the right side of his head in the fifth but the main problem was he was finding Dalakian too hard to hit and on the rare occasions he did, and there were pockets of success – including a spell in the eighth – Jimenez couldn’t change the course of the fight.

The Costa Rican was extremely fit and kept forging forward but was beaten for the first time and is now 12-1 with nine stoppages.

Heavyweight prospect Moses Itauma has been tipped for big things but it will be a while before he has to tap into his potential. The 18-year-old southpaw dispatched Czech Marcel Bode, now 2-2, in just 23 seconds.