LONDON, England — Artur Beterbiev maintained his 100% knockout record as a professional by stopping Anthony Yarde in eight thrilling rounds to defend his three world light heavyweight titles Saturday.
Few things in sport are certainties, but Beterbiev has delivered a KO performance in each of his 19 professional fights over a decade now.
At 38, Beterbiev is perhaps in the form of his life after demolishing Joe Smith in a unification fight in June and then steadily dismantling Yarde, finishing his spirited challenge with a crunching right hand, at the OVO Arena in Wembley, England.
But the Canada-based Russian had to come through some tough moments in a thunderous fight, with Yarde producing moments that caused real concern for the champion.
Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs), who is based in Montreal but originally from Chechnya, Russia, registered a seventh world title defense in a brutal fight that he finished in style two minutes and one second into the eighth round.
“I can’t say I did a bad fight but if I did it again, I would do better, but I feel good,” Beterbiev said.
“Every boxer in this category can punch hard and Anthony did too; he is 31, he’s young, I turned pro 28, so he has time. I hope he does well in the future.”
This victory increases demand for WBC, IBF and WBO champion Beterbiev to face WBA champion Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs), also from Russia but based in North America, who is in fine form after points wins over Saul ”Canelo” Alvarez and Gilberto Ramirez last year.
Yarde (23-3, 22 KOs) was stopped for the second time in his career by a big-hitting Russian. He was halted in the 11th round by Sergey Kovalev for the WBO belt in 2019.
Yarde, who started well but faded before getting stopped by Kovalev, began aggressively Saturday and showed no signs of being intimidated by Beterbiev’s formidable record.
Beterbiev opened up in the second round when he backed Yarde into a corner, landing with a series of right hands. Yarde managed to slide away to avoid further trouble, but Beterbiev was able to find him with his stiff jab repeatedly in the third round.
Beterbiev began the fourth round in a hurry and landed a couple of big right hands before a barrage of blows left Yarde on unsteady legs for a moment. Later in the fourth, Yarde walked into a big right hand but showed no signs of being dazed by the hammer blow.
In the fifth, Beterbiev landed a left hand as Yarde stepped into range, but later in the round Yarde stunned the champion with a right to the temple and the round finished in a toe-to-toe slugfest.
Beterbiev knew he was in one of the toughest fights of his professional career and during the sixth round he was left with blood dripping from above his left eye.
The seventh was another slugfest with Yarde landing two clubbing rights before Beterbiev returned fire with a cluster of blows that threatened to send the Englishman to the canvas. But once again Yarde showed great durability and he ended the round on top, uncorking two brilliant uppercuts.
Yarde was well into the fight, but Beterbiev showed the quality of his finishing in the eighth round when he landed a straight right hand that sent Yarde spinning, before another cuffing right deposited him onto the canvas.
Yarde got to his feet on wobbly legs after a count and when Beterbiev resumed his attack referee Steve Gray quickly stopped the fight after Yarde’s trainer, Tunde Ajayi, had climbed onto the ring apron and signaled to halt the contest.
Dalakian edges past Jimenez
Artem Dalakian did a good job of impersonating a matador in a unanimous points win over David Jimenez to defend his WBA world flyweight title.
Dalakian (22-0, 15 KOs), 35, had not fought since a ninth-round win over Luis Concepcion for a fifth title defense in his home city of Kyiv, Ukraine, in November 2021. A few months later, Russia invaded Ukraine and Dalakian was left with a long wait to resume his career.
Despite the layoff, Dalakian produced the cleaner work in a close fight to earn scores of 115-113, 115-113 and 116-112.
Jimenez (12-1, 9 KOs), 30, from Costa Rica, maintained pressure from start to finish and had some success in the middle rounds before Dalakian regained his composure late.