IBF/WBC/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev weighed in at fight-ready 174 1/2 lbs, and Anthony Yarde scaled in at 174 1/4 lbs for Saturday’s main event showdown live on ESPN+ and BT Sport in the UK.
The non-smiling Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs) looked menacing while facing the media, with a look that suggested that he meant to do harm to the challenge to his throne, Yarde (23-2, 22 KOs).
Interestingly, immediately after the weigh-in, Beterbiev hurriedly left, choosing not to indulge the media by giving an interview.
You can perhaps read into that to mean that Beterbiev is fed up with questions that many seemingly pro-Yarde media members have been asking him all week, so he wasn’t going to bother wasting his time.
Beterbiev exhausts fighters
“I think they’ll feel each other out a bit, I really do, because he’s really experienced,” said Gareth A. Davies to talkSPORT Boxing about how he feels the Beterbiev vs. Yarde fight will play out.
“What I feel also that with Beterbiev, he exhausts fighters he’s in the ring with. If you don’t engage with him, he’s such a good boxer, he’s so patient that he’s always there. He knows how to control space, great ring generalship.”
“He makes you work when you’re not working,” said Spencer Oliver about Beterbiev.
“You have to be focused all the time. I think that learning process that Anthony Yarde had in Russia stands him in good stead for this fight,” said Davies about Yarde’s failed bit to capture the WBO light heavyweight title against Sergey Kovalev in 2019 in Russia.
“Absolutely, that is huge, and home advantage plays a massive part as well,” said Oliver. “Yarde, this is a great opportunity for him, and you’re right about the Kovalev fight when he went to Russia, things were all against him, and had Kovalev gone in the eighth round, but inexperience let him down. That will stand him in good stead for this fight.”
“I love the honesty of the two men. I’ve spoken to both since the press conference,” said Gareth. “I spoke to Beterbiev yesterday, and I love that both of them admit that they have massive nerves for this fight. It’s how they control them and turn the nerves into excitement and just stay calm the whole time.
“Beterbiev is one of the hardest interviews that you’ll ever do because he gives so little away, and he is an ice-cool guy. I just wonder, and I’m sorry about this fight. This fight is a massive trade fight. I just want it to cross into the mainstream.
“I want people to tune in to this fight because it could be a very, very special fight,” said Gareth.
Can Yarde pull off the upset?
“If we pull it back, this is where it really is. For Yarde to win the fight, it would probably be the biggest upset in British boxing history,” said Oliver.
“He knows what he’s going into, and it’s all about Saturday night, but I give Yarde a chance in this one, more than a chance. Beterbiev, I believe, wins, but I give Yarde more than a chance.
“It has nothing to do with age. Don’t worry about the 38 years of age. Stylistically, Beterbiev is one of those guys that comes forward, and throws shots, but he’s there to be hit. Anthony Yarde carries that power that can take people out with one shot, and that’s why I give him a good shot because he knows what he’s going into.
“I asked Yarde yesterday, ‘Is this a 12 round fight?’ His answer was, ‘No.’ He believes it’s a six round fight, which tells you that Yarde is going to trade with him early, and if he does that, he’s got a chance.
“Callum Johnson knocked him down in the second round. Yarde carries all of that power, and for that reason, you’ve got to give him a big chance,” said Oliver.
“Is there a danger in waking up this wounded tiger in Beterbiev?” said Gareth. “If you forced him early to fight, as Bob Arum said, ‘When Beterbiev’s back is against the wall, he’s also as dangerous as he ever is in the ring.'”
“But the problem you’ve got is that if you let someone get too much momentum going like Beterbiev, a guy that likes to get into a rhythm, if you let someone do that, then it’s hard to turn it around,” said Oliver.
“So, I think that the tactics are that Yarde has got to approach it as to stand there and trade but be cute. Don’t be reckless like Joe Smith Jr. Take a half a step back and then come on. Let him come onto the shots.
“I’m going to go for Beterbiev, late stoppage in rounds nine, ten, around there. I think Yarde gives it a great go, but I think he’s just going to fall shot. But if Yarde does win, I see him doing it early,” said Oliver.
“You’ve got a very good record at being wrong,” said Gareth. “I’m going for a very similar outcome. Nine, ten, or eleven round stoppage for Beterbiev after a fantastic fight. But my heart would love Anthony [to win]. He’s an amazing story. He had eleven or twelve amateur fights, an amazing life, an extraordinary narrative, and a brilliant you man.
“If he could pull it off on Saturday night in a great shock upset against a guy with 18 wins and 18 KOs over a 10-year career, you’d be watching the debrief with myself,” said Gareth.
Artur lacks polish
“Beterbiev is very good, he’s sound, he’s rounded, but he’s not too polished, though,” said promoter Spencer Fearon to Boxing King Media. “Someone as fast as Anthony Yarde and hits like Anthony Yarde can capitalize on that, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.
“If anyone else was going in with Beterbiev, they’re going to get beat up. I know what Anthony Yarde needs to do to secure victory, and if he does them, he’s going to be victorious. Otherwise, it’s going to be difficult.
“He’s not a complete fighter. I see flaws in him; I’m going to be real,” said Fearon about Beterbiev. “It’s going to take a really brave man to be in his punching range to administer the work to do what they have to do, but do I believe Yarde is brave enough to do it? Yarde is a lion, and lions are brave.”