LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 28: Artur Beterbiev celebrates after defeating Anthony Yarde, during their WBC,IBF and WBO light heavyweight Championship fight, at OVO Arena Wembley on January 28, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Mark Robison/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
In the aftermath of a wonderfully brutal light-heavyweight shootout, Artur Beterbiev praised game challenger Anthony Yarde but set his sights on the 175lbs collision the world wants with Dmitriy Bivol.
Speaking for Top Rank, Carl Moretti said: “Bivol, Bivol and Bivol” when asked who they would target to face Beterbiev this summer, but as thousands of London fans streamed onto the streets around the Wembley Arena, they praised Yarde and the fireworks the challenger had shared with the ferocious Russian champion, who is ranked No. 2 by The Ring, behind Bivol.
“It’s one of the biggest fights you can make,” Moretti added of Bivol-Beterbiev. “It’s one of the biggest fights in the sport. I appreciate mandatories come up but when you have a full unification with fighters like that, we know Bivol’s manager very well so we will try to reach out and make this fight next for everybody. The only reluctance I can see is if he’s offered Canelo. Bivol is a real fighter and he will want to unify the title and the only way he can do that is through Artur.”
Beterbiev’s WBC mandatory is Callum Smith, but nobody involved in the Russian’s affairs wanted to talk about the possibility of facing the Liverpool man last night.
Of the Yarde war, Beterbiev’s trainer, Marc Ramsey, said: “I won’t say I was surprised [by Yarde] because we saw what he did to [Sergey] Kovalev, but he could take a good punch and he’s genetically very gifted, he’s a good athlete, he generates power, everybody knows that, especially from rounds one to five-six. But he has a little bit of a history of going like this [Ramsey made a downward arc hand gesture] and we just needed to make sure we didn’t make any stupid moves at the start of the fight, take any stupid punches for nothing and make sure that we bring him in the deep water in the fight, that was the plan.”
In that respect, it worked, but it was a bruising, thrilling struggle. Both men showed signs of damage around their faces and both landed big shots through the eight exhausting rounds it lasted.
“The majority of the fights he’s had, Artur hits them and we see the fight turn right away,” Ramsey continued. “But Yarde showed in this fight and the Kovalev fight that he has a good chin and he’s able to take a good punch, but the problem was not the capacity to take a punch I think for him it was his organic resistance. Boxing is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. It’s not four, it’s not five, it’s not six rounds and Artur was able to be patient and we knew we were going to catch him.”
Beterbiev paid Yarde plenty of complements but said he was only warming into the fight when the end came.
“There was only eight rounds for me to show my performance, I was just starting,” the champion said. “My coach can tell you that. Being honest, I was just waking up in these [early] rounds. You never know how it’s going to go, you can have strategies but you never know. He was a good fighter. I did not bad, too. I can’t say it was my toughest fight, but he did a good job.”
Beterbiev said he felt he was in control throughout and afterwards told Yarde he hoped he did well in the future. “Today it was important for me to win and for him it’s experience,” said the Russian.
Beterbiev and Ramsey both felt the compassionate timing of Tunde Ajayi’s intervention, preventing Yarde from shipping further punishment was “a good decision.”
“You need to be able to feel, a coach has to be able to feel his fighter and when it was stopped I think he know it was better for him to stop it,” said Beterbiev. “I don’t want to kill someone. I just want to win.”
“I think it was the right moment,” agreed Ramsey. “We could see from the other corner, he didn’t want to continue. He looked a little bit to his corner for help and I think they did the right thing. The first thing as a boxing coach is to protect the boxer, and he did his job.”
When asked about Bivol, Beterbiev kept his reply short and simple.
“It’s a good job for me,” he smiled.