Anthony Yarde is not at all concerned with the threat waiting on the other side of his upcoming fight this weekend.
A shot at lineal and unified WBC/IBF/WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev awaits Yarde as the WBO mandatory challenger. The fight was due to take place in late October, only for Beterbiev to have to delay the championship clash after not recovering in time from summertime surgery to honor the fight date.
The bout is now back on course to take place next January in London, which is eagerly embraced by the confident light heavyweight contender from Ilford, Essex.
“There’s been killers in boxing before. I do believe that styles make fights,” insisted Yarde. “When I’m challenged, whenever there is a challenge it brings out the best in me.”
No greater challenge awaits any light heavyweight than a showdown with Beterbiev (18-0, 18KOs). It is a fight that Yarde (22-2, 21KOs) has called for since being named as next in line for the WBO title.
First up for Yarde is a stay-busy fight against Bulgarian puncher Stefani Koykov (14-1, 12KOs), who brings a 12-fight win streak into their scheduled ten-round bout this Saturday at Telford International Centre in Telford, England. At best, it’s a potential trap fight for Yarde—though in reality, a showcase opportunity for the 31-year-old contender ahead of his planned second title challenge.
Yarde suffered an eleventh-round knockout loss to then-WBO titlist Sergey Kovalev in their August 2019 title fight in Chelyabinsk, Russia. It was the first defeat suffered by Yarde, though his stock rose following his valiant effort in a fight where he trailed 96-93, 97-94 and 98-92 at the time of the stoppage. He has since won four of his last five starts, including a fourth-round stoppage of Lyndon Arthur last December to avenge a prior defeat.
“I’m better than I was a few years ago,” Yarde insisted. “I think it’s exciting times for the future.”
Yarde-Koykov is part of a BT Sport/ESPN+ telecast headlined by unbeaten Liam Davies (12-0, 5KOs) in a twelve-round junior featherweight bout with Romania’s Ionut Baluta (15-3, 3KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox