When the bombs start flying between two men with near perfect knockout percentages, all we can do is sit, watch, and wait.
Someone is hitting the showers early.
Defending lineal light heavyweight king Artur Beterbiev is a heavy favorite to win on Saturday at Wembley (ESPN+, 3:30 PM EST), and for good reason. Challenger Anthony Yarde might have an almost perfect knockout mark (22 in 25 fights), but he’s also lost twice and been stopped once.
So far, the only thing Beterbiev does is send opponents home without any need for judges. Averaging less than five rounds per appearance in his career, Beterbiev is no worse than 1A at light heavyweight with only Dmitry Bivol standing out as a genuine peer in the class.
Anthony Yarde is younger, quicker, and the right punch can reshuffle any deck.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Titles: IBF Light Heavyweight (2017-Present, 6 Defenses); Lineal/TBRB/WBC Light Heavyweight (2019-Present, 3 Defenses); WBO Light Heavyweight (2022-Present, 1st Attempted Defense)
Previous Titles: None
Height: 5’11 ½
Weight: 174 ½ lbs.
Hails from: Khasavyurt, Russia
Record: 18-0, 18 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 7-0, 7 KO
Last Five Opponents: 112-6-1 (.945)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Tavoris Cloud KO2; Gabriel Campillo KO4; Oleksandr Gvozdyk TKO10; Marcus Browne KO9; Joe Smith Jr. TKO2
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None
Current Title/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 174 ¼ lbs.
Hails from: Ilford, Essex, United Kingdom
Record: 23-2, 22 KO, 1 KOBY
Press Rankings: #6 (TBRB), #7 (Ring, ESPN), #8 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 0-1, 1 KOBY
Last Five Opponents: 89-10 (.900)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Sergey Kovalev TKO by 11; Lyndon Arthur KO4
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced:
The Pick: An injury to Beterbiev pushed this fight into 2023 and it worked out okay for boxing fans in a January light on big fights. Yarde is a big underdog here but it doesn’t mean he won’t have his chances. Yarde can punch and hos delivery system will be dangerous if Beterbiev isn’t defensively responsible. Yarde has quick hands and a nice right uppercut that he can disguise well. If he lands hard on the older man, particularly early, Yarde can make his own luck. Yarde will have to be patient about it though. Joe Smith tried to take the fight to Beterbiev early and was battered early. Beterbiev’s perfect knockout mark isn’t an accident.
Even if Yarde has some moments early, a Beterbiev who is still there after a few rounds is going to be a problem. Beterbiev is dangerous early and better as a fight wears on, an underrated technician who knows how to break down an opponent and multiply punishment as the rounds tick on. Factor in a much deeper amateur background and more impressive roster of professional wins and there just isn’t a reason to pick Yarde aside from a hunch. There is no hunch here. The pick is Beterbiev by stoppage.
Rold Picks 2023: 1-0
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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