Not even members from Artur Beterbiev’s own team were going to be tight-lipped when it came to Anthony Yarde’s ambitious efforts last Saturday night in London.
Russ Abner, the cutman for Beterbiev, the WBC, WBO, and IBF light heavyweight champion from Russia, couldn’t help but commend Yarde’s resiliency during his exciting title bout at OVO Arena Wembley that ultimately ended with the British challenger getting stopped in the eighth round.
Abner, moreover, was impressed at how hard Yarde battled back, waging his own offensive flurries that momentarily stymied Beterbiev’s relentless sorties.
“The first thing I said to [Beterbiev head trainer] Mark [Ramsay] while the fight was going on, I said, ‘this guy was more resistant than all of the other opponents that Beterbiev fought,’” Abner said of Yarde in an interview with BBC 5 Live Boxing. “He took shots—other guys have taken shots, but they haven’t fought back the way he fought back. Marcus Browne took shots, but he kept crumbling and crumbling and didn’t fight back. This guy fought back. Full credit to him.”
Indeed, many in the boxing world came away impressed with Yarde, whose quickness and power appeared to trouble the redoubtable Beterbiev at times. Two of the judges even had Yarde ahead on their scorecards going into the eighth round. The undefeated Beterbiev, who lives and trains in Montreal, his adopted hometown, has now knocked out all 19 of his opponents in the professional ranks.
Abner underscored how Beterbiev’s intense brand of pressure meant Yarde could never ease into the fight on his own terms—he had to jump in the deep end from the get-go.
“The pressure that Beterbiev puts on, he’s got you in fifth gear when you only want to be in second,” Abner said. “He’s got you in fifth early.
“You don’t want to expend more energy than you have to and Beterbiev forces you to do that,” Abner continued. “[Yarde] had to have his guts and his heart, make him fight back, and he threw hard and he did his best to use his power to make Beterbiev respectful and he did. He succeeded in doing that. Great performance.”
Abner said he and the other cornermen were surprised when Yarde did not initially wilt after absorbing some of Beterbiev's biggest blows.
“I expected stylistically it to be a hard fight, but I figured as soon as we nailed him, he’s going to crumble,” Abner said. “But he didn’t and he kept fighting back. So now we’re in the corner, [we told Beterbiev], ‘Let’s go back to the jab. [Laughs]. Let’s go back to the jab.’
Abner, who also owns a boxing equipment line, said he overheard Beterbiev praise Yarde after the fight.
“He said, ‘You’re tough, a lot tougher than I expected,’” Abner said. “He got all of our respect. He didn’t badmouth. There always has to be a winner and loser, but boy he went out on his shield on this one.”
This was Yarde's second attempt at a world title. His previous opportunity also ended in a knockout, an 11th-round stoppage at the hands of Sergey Kovalev in 2019.
The next time Beterbiev, 38, enters the ring may be in the summer, possibly against his WBC mandatory challenger, England's Callum Smith.