Frank Warren is always going to back his man, but he says that one of the reasons he was able to gain home advantage for Anthony Yarde against Artur Beterbiev this weekend was that the champion’s promoters, Top Rank, believe the fight is straightforward for their man.
Yarde, who is the WBO’s mandatory contender, challenges Beterbiev for the WBC, WBO and IBF light-heavyweight titles at Wembley Arena on Saturday.
Mind you, the venue, currently known as the OVO Arena, has a good history for Top Rank’s boss Bob Arum, right back to 1980 when Marvin Hagler took the world middleweight title from Alan Minter there and Arum joined Hagler in rushing back to the dressing room after they were bombarded with bottles.
Yarde had to travel to Russia for his previous world-title shot against Sergey Kovalev in 2019, but being at home, Warren believes, will make a difference.
“It was important to get home advantage,” Warren said. “I managed to get a deal done with Bob Arum. But they are happy to be here, they fancy their guy big time – they think it will be a formality.
“But I look back at some of the formalities there have been over the years. Jeff Lacy was supposed to be a formality to beat Joe Calzaghe, it was a formality for Kostya Tszyu to beat Ricky Hatton. I can mention loads over the years. I just hope I have picked the right moment for this fight. If anyone can do it, I think he can.”
Warren believes the key to victory for Yarde comes from landing hard on Beterbiev early in the fight, while the Canada-based Russian, who turned 38 last week and has suffered injuries in the past year, might not be as fresh as he once was.
“If Anthony lands, I think he takes him out,” Warren said. “I’m sure everyone has a plan. The important thing for fighters is to have a plan A and a plan B and sometimes a plan C. I’m hoping at the age of 38, age will be against Beterbiev – that is the chance we are taking.
Despite Yarde’s lack of amateur experience, Warren said he was impressed by Yarde from early in his career.
“He is a natural athlete – he’s a tough, tough guy and super fit,” Warren said. “He is also a quick learner. He impresses me with what he has been able to do. I’ve got a lot of time for him. From the start, nobody knew who he was and he has done a good job. He has got a winning mentality.
“This is a big, big night for him, it is a big moment in his life and I think he has the temperament to get through it.
“But he wanted Beterbiev. There was no thought of him going for an easier opponent. He studied him and his mantra is that he can beat him.
“Timing is key. I like to think in important fights I have got it right. But there are times when you need to roll the dice if you believe in your guy.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.
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