Unbeaten light heavyweight contender Anthony Yarde (14-0, 13 KOs) powered through former world title challenger Nikola Sjekloca (32-5-1, 11 KOs) in stopping him in the 4th round on Saturday night at the Copper Box Arena in London, England.
Yarde, 26, hurt the 39-year-old Sjekloca in the 4th. Yarde then teed off on him until the referee Steve Gray stepped in and halted the fight with Sjekloca still on his feet but badly hurt. The official time of the stoppage was at 1:08 of round 4.
Earlier in the fight, Yarde knocked Sjekloca down with a right hand in round 2. Yarde was trapped against the ropes at the time when he landed a hard right that put Sjekloca down on the canvas. It was a good punch by Yarde to put Sjekloca down. Before that, it looked like Yarde was in for a long fight due to the heavy, clubbing shots that Sjekloca was hitting him with. There wasn’t a lot of speed involved with those shots, but there was power, and Yarde was bothered by it. He did not look comfortable with the heavy shots that Sjekloca was hitting him with. I think it’s safe to say that if Sjekloca had been able to withstand Yarde’s power, he might have worn him down and knocked him out. Yarde was that bothered by Sjekloca’s shots.
Sjekloca came back strong in round 3 and landed some big shots. It was as if he had never been hurt in the 2nd round.
Up until recently, Sjekloca had spent the vast majority of his 11-year pro career fighting at super middleweight. Sjekloca moved up in weight to 175 in 2016, and he had 3 fights under his belt at the time that he fought Yarde tonight. One of the fights Sjekloca had been a 12 round draw against former super middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz earlier this year on March 18 in Germany. Stieglitz is way past his prime at this point in his boxing career.
Yarde continued his streak of not allowing an opponent to go beyond the 4th, but that’s more of a product of the guys that he’s being matched against rather than a true sign of his quality. Things will be different when Yarde gets inside the ring with a true light heavyweight talent like Dmitry Bivol, Sullivan Barrera, Sergey Kovalev, Artur Beterbiev and Eleider Alvarez. If Yarde has the talent that some believe him to possess, he’ll knockout those fighters in 4 rounds or less.
The victory for #5 WBO Yarde over Sjekloca keeps him undefeated, and within view of a world title shot against WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. It would be good for Yarde to get some more fights under his belt before he challenges for a world title against Kovalev.