As Anthony Yarde takes another step closer to mounting his second world title challenge, he reflects on his first one in Sergey Kovalev’s backyard.
‘The Beast From The East’ was just a few hard punches away from snatching the WBO Light-Heavyweight title from Kovalev deep in the heart of Russia in 2019.
Scores of full-powered shots landed on the champion in the eighth round and the man from London looked set for a stoppage. Kovalev weathered the storm and, with gas tank now empty, Yarde was stopped in the eleventh.
Now highly likely to be in the ring for top honours again next year, Boxing Social asked Yarde how he compares as a fighter now.
“When I fought Kovalev I was 18 fights in, hadn’t fought anyone of great substance until that point, not in comparison to Kovalev anyway. I went to Russia. It was an opportunity. The way I’m built is if the opportunity is there and it makes sense, I’m going for it.”
“I’m a completely different fighter [now] mentally, physically. [I’ve] been through the ups and downs.”
Yarde (22-2, 21 KOs) will need all of that mental strength to compete with Artur Beterbiev, another Russian champion, whose swarming style and sheer strength has finished 18 opponents in 18 fights.
The challenger though, as he says, will take an opportunity when one arises. Following an initial postponement, the fight for Beterbiev’s IBF, WBO, and WBC titles is now strongly suspected to take place on January 28, 2023 in London – that is, should Yarde get through a winter warm-up this weekend unscathed.
Ever the professional, he refused to confirm or deny the Beterbiev fight until business against Stefani Koykov is taken care of.
“My only focus right now is Saturday night. So if you want to find out the next piece of information, whether it’s on social media or on the night, you gotta tune into the show on Saturday night.”
“It [the rumoured Beterbiev date] can be out there until the cows come home – my only focus is Saturday night.”
“Let’s get this fight done, because all of the other fights, they ain’t on my mind right now.”
Fans can tune into Yarde versus Koykov – as well as the likely announcement afterwards – on BT Sport.