Did anyone expect Anthony Yarde to win this? I didn’t see any commentators putting him ahead of light Heavyweight champeen Artur Beterbiev; although people were delighted that the champ had come to the OVO Wembley Arena, challenger Yarde’s back, erm, yard, the general feeling was that powerful and impressive though he was, he was still on his way up and the only really big name on his record was Sergei Kovalev and he lost that.
The general feeling was as the Specials said;
Too much too young.
After all, Beterbiev was undefeated, holds the WBO, WBC and IBF belts and had been in with some tough draws. Surely Beterbiev would frustrate, rattle and ultimately knock the plucky Briton out?
It didn’t quite work out that way.
And what a Fight. Boxing needs matches like this, Jack Massey taking it to Joseph Parker, Eubank Jnr v Smith, matches which show the thrills, spills and absolute talent of good boxing. It needs it now, in the light of the still rumbling Conor Benn situation and the argument over DAZN entering into an agreement to show Misfits Boxing, KSI and the like.
So to not have a one-sided battle was a real bonus, to have engaging, hard fought action was even better. And this was.
In the 1st round, tight though it was, Beterbiev was trying to make an impression, perhaps surging forward a little too much and leaving himself open to counters.
Yarde, on the other hand, was mobile and actually making Beterbiev miss a little. This was set up well…
And so when the Yarde jab arrived in Round 2, plus good movement and head and body shot choices, things seemed even better.
Credit; Sky Sports
He even fought out of the corner, but just at the back of the mind was the feeling that Beterbiev was settling in a little.
At this point, it looked like the challenger was not overawed and indeed looked in the mood to take the fight to the champ, but Beterbiev provided a good example of why he was the champ at the end of the round, when a big shot had Yarde discombobulated, fortunately close to the bell.
This was the beginning of an unsettling feature for the challenger, seeming to switch off in the last 30 seconds of the round.
But Yarde’s tenacity and lack of fear showed in the next round when Beterbiev started his boxing assault; he seemed faster, appeared to be putting shots together well and for a moment, Yarde appeared to be hanging on.
And then Beterbiev backed off. Yarde used his jab to avert disaster and then used that time to work his way back into the round; a Yarde left hook made the champ think and it was his time to fight out of trouble.
This was a fabulous back and forth fight.
The fifth was perhaps Yarde’s best round, tagging Beterbiev early, a lovely left hook as Beterbiev came in and then a rugged overhand right which made the champ turn him to avoid further punishment – showing his absolute ring prowess.
Credit; Bad Left Hook
One thing about Beterbiev here though, the haad movement was lacking. Virtually non-existent, actually, so Yarde couldn’t help but land some punches.
Not to take away from the challenger’s work though, he showed heart, even when the same end of round issue occurred and he stumbled following a big Beterbiev uppercut.
By the 6th and 7th, Yarde seemed to be hitting him at will, down the middle, to the body, whilst he pawed at a cut under his right eye. His opponent perhaps decided to test Yarde’s mettle as he dug in and fought in a phone box in the corner – he did not crumble, he went to the dark place with him and that trading of punches had the crowd shouting.
I thought Yarde looked tired at the start of the eighth, but I wasn’t prepared for the punch which ended it for him.
He must have switched off for a split second because Beterbiev saw a big hole to whack a right hook into; it landed flush and Yarde couldn’t find his feet, the champ is known as a good finisher and a chopping shot put Yarde down.
He got up alright, but he didn’t seem exactly sure where he was and as ref Steve Gray came towards him, he turned to give full attention to something in his corner. Odd that…
And when they restarted, it was all over quickly as apparently Yarde’s corner apparently pulled him out of the contest.
The corner must have seen how that Beterbiev hook took so much from their man to make that decision; it looked premature, but I’m not between the ropes or at ringside. As Adam Caterall is reported to have said; reported by TalkSport;
‘There is nothing worse in this game than a brave corner…’ Adam Catterall continued as he spoke about Ajayi (Yarde’s trainer), ‘but, that was exquisite, that was a man who detached himself from the emotions of the fight and protected his fighter.’
And that was that. Suddenly. Brutally. Undeniably. Would Yarde have won if that punch hadn’t landed? He was matching Beterbiev, frustrating him, he may have taken him to the end and been disappointed with the points verdict. However, maybe not, according to The Mirror;
‘Scorecards released from the fight show that judge Jun Bae Lim scored five of the seven rounds in favour of Yarde before the fight was stopped. Judge Robin Taylor had Yarde ahead by one round whilst Jerome Lades had it 67-66 in favour of Beterbiev.’
So why do I say at the top of this article that Yarde won?
Firstly, let’s look at Beterbiev. He won. So that’s cause for celebration, right? Not really.
The champ might have had an off night. He might have taken his inexperienced challenger too lightly. But during the fight Yarde took what he had (until the 8th round, of course) and returned fire at will; TalkSport reported that he said after the match;
‘I can’t say I did a bad fight, but if I do again, I want to do better.’
and he didn’t perform badly, he just performed in a way which allowed a supposed longshot, Anthony Yarde, to come close to unsettling him and meet his work with plenty of his own.
And with Beterbiev calling out Bivol after the match, and after watching those 8 rounds, the WBA champ must be rubbing his hands together.
Credit; The Guardian
And Yarde? Well, he said he’ll be back and of course he will, he’s just catapulted himself to world title contention. He was seen as a trier, a huge underdog and he matched the skill and firepower of Beterbiev, a fighter who he described thusly;
and he’s right. Of course he will come back, he’s 31 and might be coming into his prime; he got knocked out and quite brutally, but if there are lasting effects from that, Yarde will surely challenge for a world title again.
He’s the real winner here.
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