Artur Beterbiev showed why he’s regarded as one of the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters with an eighth-round stoppage of Britain’s Anthony Yarde on Saturday night.
Beterbiev maintained his 100% knockout record in his 19th professional contest in defence of his WBC, WBO and IBF light-heavyweight titles at London’s Wembley Arena.
Yarde started the faster of the two fighting predominantly on the back foot as he sought to evade the aggressive front foot pressure of the Canadian.
The Brit enjoyed success during the early rounds but was having to work incredibly hard to match the output of the 38-year-old champion.
Yarde looked to walk Beterbiev on to his left hook but often left himself open to punishing right hands through the centre of his guard as the pair slugged it out in front of a raucous crowd.
More rights looked to wobble Yarde at the beginning of the fourth before the Brit valiantly pushed Beterbiev back with right hands of his own.
A right hand over the top rocked the Canadian’s chin in the final minute of the fifth as Yarde enjoyed his best round of the night but both men appeared to be feeling the pace as the contest approached the halfway stage.
Beterbiev’s experience began to show the longer the fight grew however with the Canadian looking to finish rounds the stronger man to impress the three judges ringside.
More damage lay ahead for Yarde who spent most of the final minute of the seventh trapped in the corner as pummelling blows ensued from the champion.
The Brit responded valiantly but emptied his tank further in the process and a looping Beterbiev right hand sent him to the canvas with 1:26 remaining in the eighth.
Yarde climbed back to his feet but another right forced Yarde’s cornerman Tunde Ajaye to save his man from further punishment and signal the end of the contest.
Beterbiev’s response was telling as he dropped to his knees in the centre of the ring, acknowledging perhaps the toughest eight rounds of his professional career so far.
Attention soon turned to the prospect of an undisputed showdown with Russia’s Dmitry Bivol, though a defence against Liverpool’s Callum Smith next appears more likely.
Smith secured his spot as mandatory challenger for Beterbiev’s WBC title with a fourth-round knockout of Mathieu Bauderlique in August last year and has previously held world honours at super-middleweight.
Yarde meanwhile suffered his third defeat as a professional but showed considerable improvement on his eleventh-round defeat to Sergey Kovalev in 2019 when he first fought for a world title.
Options remain aplenty for the East Londoner among a flourishing domestic division at 175lbs.
WBA flyweight champion Artem Dalakian enjoyed his sixth successful defence with a narrow unanimous-decision victory over David Jimenez.
Ukraine’s Dalakian looked the more skilful of the two against a competitive Jimenez who was fighting in his first world title fight.
The three judges ringside scored the contest in favour of the champion by scores of 116-112 and 115-113 (twice) after twelve close rounds in London.
Cruiserweight prospect Tommy Fletcher went the distance for the first time as a professional with a comfortable 60-54 six-round decision over journeyman Darryl Sharp.
Fletcher had won his first three bouts inside the distance since turning pro in 2022.
The Itauma family typified the minefield of professional matchmaking when heavyweight debutant Moses Itauma sealed his maiden bout inside fifteen seconds versus Marcel Bode of the Czech Republic.
The 18-year-old entered the ring within an hour of older brother Karol Itauma‘s stoppage defeat to Argentina’s Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna.
The latter enjoyed a wealth of success with the straight right all night and floored the young prospect with 1:04 remaining in the fifth.
Itauma was unable to make the count and was handed his first loss as a pro in his tenth outing.