Anthony Yarde says he is at his best when he fights fire with fire, which gives some indication of what to expect at Wembley.
Though Yarde loves a knockout himself, he is up against the biggest puncher in the light heavyweight division in Artur Beterbiev, holder the WBC, IBF and WBO belts. A fight with WBA champ Dimitry Bivol is arguably the most anticipated in the game but Beterbiev cares nothing for that this weekend. His focus is solely on Yarde. Beterbiev has stopped all 18 opponents as a pro. But at 38 he has inverted commas around his age.
Vigour, ability to take a shot, to get through a crisis is compromised by getting older. Callum Johnson had him down and hurt in 2019, yet he got up and finished it like the wrecking machine he is. His strength is extraordinary, twirling a 25kg Olympic bar like a baton in a marching band. And the standard of opposition he has fought is much better than Yarde’s.
Beterbiev had 300 fights as an amateur, losing just five, including two to Oleksandr Usyk. He is not big but he is ferocious and has to be the favourite in this fight despite his years. You can never be certain of course, as we saw last week with Chris Eubank. The circumstances are not the same as those that affected Eubank, who appeared weight drained and failed to rehydrate properly.
Yarde’s modus operandi is similar to Beterbiev’s, short, tearing shots, explosive combinations. All good were it not for the fact his style takes him right into Beterbiev’s wheelhouse. Yarde’s armour has been pierced by Lynden Arthur and by Sergei Kovalev in his first crack at a world title at 175 pounds four years ago. He avenged the defeat to Arthur and has trained on to become a tremendous fighter.
It will be a firecracker of a fight. Inevitably I see Beterbiev dragging Yarde into a war. It’s then about experience and pedigree, which favours Beterbiev. Defeat is not a setback. It is how you lose that matters. I praise Yarde for taking the challenge. And he has a chance.
Beterbiev knows that he is in the twilight of his career. He left Russia a decade ago to build a professional career in Canada, which is never easy in a strange country and culture. I can see both hitting the deck before the momentum swings in Beterbiev’s favour with a stoppage likely in the championship rounds.
Follow Barry on Twitter at @ClonesCyclone @McGuigans_Gym