Joe DeGaurdia believes fellow promoter Frank Warren is putting the cart before the horse.
DeGuardia, the head of Star Boxing, which promotes WBO light heavyweight titlist Joe Smith Jr., thinks Warren might want to tone down some of his recent comments suggesting that his charge Anthony Yarde is essentially a shoo-in to face the winner of the 175-pound unification bout between Smith and Artur Beterbiev, who holds the WBC and IBF belts.
Smith and Beterbiev are scheduled to face each other June 18 at Madison Square Garden in New York City in the main event of an ESPN telecast.
Yarde is the top challenger for Smith in the WBO, but the sanctioning body has yet to officially put down a firm ruling. And so far as this remains the case, DeGuardia thinks it is “premature” for Warren to suggest that Yarde will be facing either Smith or Beterbiev. As it relates to Smith, DeGuardia hinted that in the event that his charge wins, their priority would be to land the biggest possible fight, presumably a unification fight with WBA titlist Dmitry Bivol. Smith himself has repeatedly expressed an interest in avenging his lopsided points loss to Bivol back in 2019.
“I know Frank believes that the WBO will order a mandatory for Joe Smith but that hasn’t happened yet,” DeGuardia said in a recent interview with IFL TV. “A lot of things could happen…If Joe wins that fight on June 18th we’ll see where we go and what comes next. And certainly, we have a strong loyalty to the WBO because he is the WBO champion and we’ll listen to whatever their position is.
“But right now, there has been no designation. It would be premature for Frank to say that because there hasn’t been a designation to that. In fact, I think it hurts him to make that claim that Yarde should be[the mandatory]. He’s gonna make his pitch and try to get his guy in there.
"From my perspective we’re going to be looking at the big fights out there. That’s what I’m gonna be doing June 19th if it turns out that all goes well on June 18th for Joe Smith.”
Warren, the head of Queensberry Promotions, has stated consistently for the past several months that he expects Yarde (22-2, 21 KOs) to face the winner of Beterbiev-Smith. In fact, Warren recently suggested in an interview that he is working with the promoter of both Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) and Smith (28-3, 22 KOs), Top Rank Inc., about staging an eventual fight between the winner of that fight and Yarde in England, possibly in October.
Warren, moreover, has made it clear that he is loath to schedule Yarde in a fight, given that his charge is knocking on the door of a possibly life changing opportunity.
Yarde, 30, last fought in December, a fourth-round knockout of Lyndon Arthur in a rematch.