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Anthony Yarde: “I am at my best when I fight fire with fire.”

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  • Anthony Yarde: “I am at my best when I fight fire with fire.”

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    By J.J. Alvarez

    Brit Anthony Yarde has a monumental task ahead of him on January 28th at the OVO Arena in London when he faces the very strong and undefeated Russian puncher Artur Beterbiev, who will be defending his WBC, IBF and WBO 175-pound titles.

    Yarde, 31, and Beterbiev, 37, were originally scheduled to fight at the end of October, however Beterbiev needed more time to recover from his knee surgery that followed his June bout with American Joe Smith Jr. (28-4, 22 KOs), whom he knocked out in the second round.

    Yarde, who hails from Hackney, London, has no doubt that this is the most important fight of his career. He is determined not to be the victim that the vast majority of connoisseurs and fans believe him to be.

    “There’s no fear because I’m a firm believer in it’s going to be what it is going to be.” Yarde said. “I genuinely believe I am the best equipped light-heavyweight in the world and that is in terms of my mind, my body and my soul. The only thing I am lacking in is the experience. I feel if I had the experience of these guys, I would make it look even easier like Floyd Mayweather did.

    “Experience is a massive thing because I am learning on the job. I am learning things by being put in situations. When I am mentally and physically in the right place, I feel I can hurt anybody. That’s what it is about, landing the shots that hurt and showing the best version of myself.”

    Yarde made his professional debut in May 2015 at Wembley Arena (now OVO Wembley Arena), with a second-round chloroform victory over his compatriot, the willful Mitch Mitchell (7-64-3, 3 KOs), who retired in 2017 after suffering 14 straight defeats.

    From there, Yarde went on a string of 18 wins, 17 within the distance, before succumbing in the eleventh round against former world champion Sergey Kovalev (35-4-1, 29 KOs) on August 24, 2019, in Chelyabinsk, Russia, where Kovalev made his first defense of the WBO light heavyweight belt.

    Although he assured that he is not trying to justify the loss to Kovalev, at the same time he specified that it was a difficult trip as his bags were lost in transit, his hotel room didn’t have hot water, he and his family were constantly shadowed, and he and his entourage were only given a five-day visa.

    “I’m going to definitely be better prepared this time,” Yarde said. “Going out to Russia, I would have been OK if I had been there for ten days. But they only gave us a five-day visa. And it wasn’t a case of jet lag, it was jet lash and the jet lash hit on day five.” Yarde continued, “Everything was stacked against me in the Kovalev fight; of course, I will go into this fight with lots of confidence because this time it is in my backyard. I feel more at ease.”

    In the exchange with the journalists, Yarde explained that he watched boxing even before he decided to become a professional fighter himself and that he always cheered for the underdog.

    When referring to the fight against Beterbiev, Yarde did not want to make sensationalist predictions because he knows perfectly well that he is facing a strong puncher who has three titles at 175 pounds. “January 28 will be my night,” stated Yarde. “My destiny is playing out in my home city, and this is what I have been longing for throughout my professional career, which started at Wembley. I won’t make any big predictions for this fight against a strong unified champion in Artur Beterbiev, but what I will say is that I will leave nothing to chance, and I am at my best when I fight fire with fire.”

    Ranked at the top of the WBO rankings, as well as third in the WBC and IBF, Yarde (23-2, 22 KOs) has won three straight, the most recent a third-round knockout over Bulgarian Stefani Koynov (14-2, 12 KOs) last November, in England. Prior to that successful streak, Yarde suffered the second loss of his professional career, losing by split decision to countryman Lyndon Arthur in December 2020, where they contested the vacant WBO Intercontinental belt. Yarde avenged that setback, knocking out the previously undefeated Arthur in the fourth round.

    BETERBIEV: “I just want to do good boxing, not hit people.”

    Although Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs) has a devastating punch which has anesthetized his 18 rivals, he affirms that his objective in each fight is to be a good boxer and have a good performance.

    “In this moment you close off your feelings,” Beterbiev explained. “We have both signed a contract to fight. He is trying to hit me as hard as he can, and I am doing the same. There are no feelings. After the fight I just hope he is OK. Do I enjoy knocking people out? No. There’s no pleasure in it. I just hope everything is OK with them.”

    On several occasions, Beterbiev has expressed that he wants to become the undisputed 175-pound champion. In order to achieve that goal he must obtain the WBA belt from Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs). “I need Bivol,” admits Beterbiev. “I’d prefer to fight Bivol because he has the one thing I need. I hope I fight him in 2023 but the holdup is not from my side, it’s from their side. In the last three years he always says he will fight me next but [it never materialized.] We’ve done unification fights against Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Joe Smith. We’ve done that whereas he has just been talking about it.”

    In recent interviews, Beterbiev has expressed that he does not know much about Yarde's career, but he has observed some of his fights and acknowledges that he is a good boxer with extensive professional experience. “He’s dangerous so I have to prepare for this fight like I always do,” said Beterbiev.

    “What motivates me is that first of all I have three belts and I need to defend them - I can’t just give them away. If someone wants these belts they need to fight. I’ll try to be 100 percent ready and we will fight them to see who is better. What motivates me right now is having these belts and needing to defend them - that’s it,” Beterbiev concluded.

    Article submitted by Jorge Juan Alvarez in Spanish.

    Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.