Promoter Eddie Hearn thinks Anthony Yarde may be wilting away on the vine.
In a recent interview, the head of Matchroom Boxing lambasted Yarde, the British light heavyweight contender and top contender in the WBO, and Yarde’s promoter Frank Warren, for refusing to entertain any other fight besides a potential one against the winner of a planned title unification bout between 175-pound titlists Artur Beterbiev (WBC, IBF) and Joe Smith Jr. (WBO).
Warren recently defended his decision, saying that he does not plan on jeopardizing Yarde's status by putting him in just any fight, which was the reason why Yarde was not on the undercard of Tyson Fury vs. Dillian Whyte heavyweight title bout on April 23 at Wembley Stadium in London.
Hearn’s problem? Not only has a Beterbiev-Smith fight not been signed and delivered – it is reportedly in the works for later this summer – but the eventual winner of that fight, according to Hearn, will probably face Canelo Alvarez in a light heavyweight unification, leaving Yarde theoretically in the dust and possibly out of the ring for more than a year. Alvarez is scheduled to face WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol May 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
An incensed Hearn, who was responding to comments about his willingness to work with British promotional rivals, pointed out that he tried to make an offer – to the tune of $1 million pounds – to Warren for Yarde to face Hearn’s charge Joshua Buatsi this spring but that it was turned down.
“You could’ve fought Buatsi in April or May for a million pounds, but you’re waiting for the winner of a fight that hasn’t been scheduled yet,” Hearn said of Yarde in an interview with IFL TV. “If Beterbiev fights Joe Smith what’s gonna happen? That fight’s gonna take place in July, August.
"The winner of that fight might be ready in November, December, so what are you going to do with Yarde? You’re going to wait a year for a fight. And guess what’s going to happen with the winner of Beterbiev-Smith, they’re gonna fight Canelo Alvarez for the undisputed 175-pound title that every sanctioning body is going to say yes to.
“Why doesn’t someone [ask] Yarde in an interview, ‘What are you going to do Anthony Yarde?’ ‘Oh I’m gonna wait.’ ‘Wait until when?’ ‘Oh, until I get my shot.’ What? In December at the very earliest?"
Yarde, who owns the #1 spot in the WBO, last fought in December, a fourth-round stoppage of Lyndon Arthur at the Copper Box Arena in London.
While Yarde may have the highest possible ranking as a contender within one sanctioning body, Hearn said that means little unless the body designates him as a mandatory.
“He hasn’t been called for a mandatory,” Hearn said of Yarde. “He’s not ready to fight for the WBO title. There’s another fight that’s going to happen, then there’s another fight that’s gonna happen after that.”
Hearn said it was a missed opportunity for Yarde to take on Buatsi, a rising light heavyweight contender.
“Does he believe he’s going to beat Joshua Buatsi?” Hearn asked. “If he does, take the million quid and fight the [Beterbiev-Smith winner] in December. This was February [when we made the offer]. We’re only in April. But nobody asks these questions.”
When it was pointed out that Yarde’s team believed Hearn had only offered the Buatsi fight after the WBO had lifted Yarde to top contention, Hearn fired back.
“We didn’t make an offer because he’s about to get a shot,” Hearn said. “He ain’t about to get a shot.”
“Of course, the shot’s not there,” Hearn continued. “That fight ain’t happening. First there’s a unification, then there’ll be an undisputed, and if there’s not an undisputed he’s not going to fight for it until December. So...you're waiting a whole year for a fight that may not happen rather than getting a million quid in a fight you’re supposed to be able to win.
“When Frank Warren said ‘I didn’t put Yarde on the Wembley card because he’s waiting for a world title shot.’ What? They haven’t even announced the other fight that’s going to happen before that in about three months time. So what, Yarde can’t fight this whole year?”
Buatsi will stay busy by facing Craig Richards on May 21 at the O2 Arena.