Bob Arum acknowledged Thursday that Anthony Yarde is a big puncher.
The 91-year-old promoter still cannot envision Yarde avoiding a knockout defeat Saturday night against the man Arum considers the most dangerous puncher in boxing. However Yarde approaches Artur Beterbiev in their 12-round light heavyweight title fight, Arum believes Beterbiev, who is co-promoted by Arum’s Top Rank Inc., will keep his perfect knockout record intact in their main event at OVO Arena Wembley in London.
“That depends a lot on Anthony,” Arum said during a press conference in London. “If Anthony’s gonna go out and fight Artur like Joe Smith did, then the fight will end early. If he boxes a bit with Artur, the fight will end in the late to middle rounds. But again, with all due respect to Yarde, Artur, I believe, will emerge the winner.”
Long Island’s Smith (28-4, 22 KOs), who also is considered a hard puncher, was aggressive against Beterbiev as soon as their 175-pound title unification fight began June 18.
Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs) made Smith pay for his surprising approach almost immediately. The Russian-born, Quebec-based champion dropped Smith once late in the first round and twice during the second round, when their scheduled 12-round battle was halted by referee Harvey Dock at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York.
Smith’s only other knockout loss came in an August 2010 bout in which Smith suffered a broken jaw against Eddie Caminero.
Arum claimed Smith was influenced by his hometown crowd when he boxed Beterbiev, who owns the IBF, WBC and WBO light heavyweight titles. The 38-year-old Beterbiev will fight in hostile territory again Saturday night, which Arum pointed out could encourage England’s Yarde (23-2, 22 KOs) to take costly chances versus Beterbiev.
“The big test for me was when Artur fought Joe Smith,” Arum said, “because we did that fight in New York, where Smith has a tremendous following. And they cheered and they yelled and they screamed, and what did that do? It incentivized Smith to take the fight to Artur, and that was a big mistake because Artur knocked out Smith in two rounds. So, hopefully Yarde will be excited by his fans and go after Beterbiev and hopefully the fight will end in a few rounds, rather than in more rounds.”
BT Sport 1 will broadcast Beterbiev-Yarde as the main event of a telecast set to start at 7 p.m. GMT in the United Kingdom and Ireland. ESPN+ will stream Beterbiev-Yarde and four undercard bouts in the United States (3:30 p.m. ET; 12:30 p.m. PT).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.