Beterbiev had over 300 amateur bouts to Yarde's 12
Champion Beterbiev and challenger Yarde are the two biggest punchers in the light heavyweight division, but one has a sporting education and discipline far greater than the other
Boxing fans around the world are gearing up for a thrilling tangle of titans this Saturday, January 28, when Anthony Yarde (23-2, 22KO), also known as "The Beast from the East", takes on Artur Beterbiev (18-0, 18KO) at the OVO Arena in Wembley, live on BT Sport.
Both fighters have been preparing relentlessly ahead of this highly-anticipated matchup, and it promises to be an explosive clash between two world-class light heavyweight boxers. With three glittering titles – WBC, IBF, WBO – at stake, both men will no doubt bring their best and leave it all in the ring on fight night.
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With two brutes of similar destructive power – the champion with a 100% KO record and the challenger with all but one victory coming by KO – we’ll need to dive deeper into the murky water of their professional and amateur records to see who has the potential advantage, no matter how minute.Artur Beterbiev, the Russian professional boxer originally from Khasavyurt, has enjoyed an emphatic and extensive career in the sport. He boasts an unblemished professional record of 18-0 and all his victories have come by way of knockout – the only reigning world champion to do so – making him one of the most feared fighters on the planet
Currently, he holds three world titles at light heavyweight – the IBF since 2017, the prestigious green and gold WBC strap since 2019, then added the WBO belt went he destroyed Joe Smith Jr. in two rounds last year. The only belt that still eludes him is the WBA bauble held by unbeaten Dmitry Bivol, which he defended as an underdog against Canelo Alvarez on Cinco de Mayo 2022, then recently defended again in a 50-50 match-up with 44-0 Gilberto Ramirez in November.
A unified undefeated light heavyweight champion of the world, Beterbiev also has a decorated amateur boxing background that utterly dwarfs his challenger, Yarde, who experienced just 12 fights in a vest.
In nearly 300 amateur fights, Beterbiev earned silver at the 2007 World Championships and gold medals in 2006 and 2010 European Championships. His biggest accomplishment was making it to the quarter-finals at the 2012 Olympics, where he was beaten by eventual heavyweight gold medalist, Oleksandr Usyk, prompting Beterbiev to turn professional straight after. Despite losing twice to Usyk in the amateurs Beterbiev landed a devastating body shot in the final round of their 2011 World Championships quarter-finals, which dropped Usyk to one knee, but the Ukrainian got back up and finished the fight well enough to still win. Not many can lay claim to dropping Usyk, currently a unified heavyweight world champion heading towards his second undisputed fight at a weight class up with Tyson Fury.
“The first thing you see is power, but he’s way more sophisticated,” said Beterbiev’s trainer Marc Ramsay in 2021. “He knows how to box and his technique’s good. Artur has a little more sophisticated boxing.”
When it comes to professional experience, Beterbiev has a clear advantage over Yarde. He’s fought his way up from the small leagues and worked his way through the divisions to become champion at light heavyweight. He’s faced a variety of opponents with different styles, and knows how to adapt in the ring under pressure.
31-year-old Yarde has much less experience than Beterbiev in terms of amateur fights, but still poses a dangerous threat. Despite only having 12 amateur fights, he won 11 by KO.
It raises a question, how does 12 amateur fights compare to the 300 that Beterbiev has fought and won? The sheer number alone indicates that Beterbiev is a hardened veteran of the sweet science.
BBN Editor Tim Rickson added his thoughts on the question, “When I hear this subject brought up, I instantly think back to everyone questioning how Oleksandr Usyk would be able to handle the 'never felt before' power of heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua. My reply to that was: 'the same way he handled every other person he fought in the amateurs who were the same size or bigger than Joshua'. An amateur pedigree of Usyk's and Beterbiev's magnitude means that these fighters have fought and handled every style, shape, size and power of opponent. Nothing can surprise them in the ring.
“I also believe that an extensive background allows fighters to deal with life in the trenches better too. When they are under fire, they won't panic or become like a deer stuck in headlights, they'll know just what to do, stay calm, and find a way out of the trenches to emerge out on top once more. Callum Johnson knocked Beterbiev down with a potent left hook in round two of their fight and the Russian got up on shaky legs, but soon blasted the Brit away just two rounds later. In just his seventh pro fight, he matched 15-0 Jeff Page Jr. who managed to knock him down in the first round. In the very next round, Beterbiev got revenge and stopped him just a couple minutes after being on the canvas himself.
“I personally believe if you take an experienced operator like Beterbiev into the trenches, you are going to find it difficult to match a man with a combined record of 313-10.”
Hackney's hard-hitting Yarde started his professional career in 2013, after a very short stint in the amateurs, and quickly made a name for himself with the “Beast” boasting a professional record of 23-2-0, out of which he won 22 by KO.
In his epic fight against Sergey Kovalev for the WBO light heavyweight title, he lost by TKO in the 11th, but not before giving the Russian a real scare in his own backyard, coming close to scoring a stoppage in round eight. It was the Londoner's inexperience on the world stage that cost him the silverware. He was losing widely anyway, but in his one big chance to claim victory, he couldn't quite find the fight-ending punch he needed, and was all but spent after such a big effort, eventually being decked by a jab in the penultimate round when exhausted. Three years and five victories since his last shot at a word title, the 'Beast from the East' is once more taking on the division's finest. This time he has the home advantage stacked in his favour.
Confident Yarde believes he can outmanoeuvre the older, “slower” (in his words) opponent with the power of speed, asserting his superiority by “being a breath of wind he cannot catch”.
Yarde, the younger and faster boxer, stepping into the ring with Beterbiev, one of boxing's most feared strikers, who has never gone to a decision in his career, creates an intriguing question – will age beat speed? Will lightning quick reflexes be enough for Yarde to outscore this ironclad powerhouse or can we expect another fierce knockout from Russian goliath?
These two fighters are set to face off in the biggest fight of the New Year so far, and it’s set to be an exciting clash between the 175lbs division’s two biggest punchers. Both pugilists possess prodigious power, but the question is whether the vaster experience and bigger boxing background of Beterbiev will prove the difference when it comes to the inevitable firefight we are all expecting to witness… we’ll find out the answer this weekend won’t we!