Anthony Yarde vows to ‘fight fire with fire’ as Artur Beterbiev world title challenge confirmed for January 28

Challenge awaits: Anthony Yarde will be a huge underdog against Artur Beterbiev in London in January  (Getty Images)
Challenge awaits: Anthony Yarde will be a huge underdog against Artur Beterbiev in London in January (Getty Images)

Anthony Yarde will attempt to become a unified light-heavyweight world champion when he steps up to challenge the formidable Artur Beterbiev in London in the New Year.

A delayed title clash between Beterbiev and WBO mandatory challenger Yarde was officially confirmed for January 28 at Wembley Arena on Saturday night, shortly after the Briton stopped Stefani Koykov in the third round of his first fight for almost a year in Telford, having not competed since gaining revenge over domestic rival Lyndon Arthur in a rematch in December 2021.

Yarde was initially due to face two-time Olympian Beterbiev in October, only for the reigning WBC, IBF and WBO champion at 175lbs to suffer an undisclosed injury during training.

It is a daunting task for the 31-year-old from Hackney, the Commonwealth and WBO Inter-Continental champion who was defeated by Sergey Kovalev despite a brave performance on his only previous world title challenge in Russia in August 2019.

Beterbiev is renowned as one of boxing’s hardest-hitting champions and is yet to be taken the distance as a professional, with all 18 of his victories coming via stoppage.

The Russian-Canadian has held the IBF strap since 2017, adding the WBC belt in 2019 and picking up the WBO gold with a second-round blitz of Joe Smith Jr in New York back in June.

Yarde, meanwhile, is 23-2 with 22 knockouts, with his only losses as a pro coming via a Kovalev stoppage and controversial split decision in the first fight against Arthur in December 2020.

“January 28 will be my night,” said Yarde. “My destiny playing out in my home city, and this is what I have been longing for throughout my professional career, which started at Wembley.

“I won’t make any big predictions for this fight against a strong unified champion in Artur Beterbiev, but what I will say is that I will leave nothing to chance, and I am at my best when I fight fire with fire.”

Beterbiev’s latest defence will delay talk of a lucrative undisputed showdown with compatriot Dmitry Bivol, who may be eyeing a rematch with Canelo Alvarez in 2023 after successfully defending his WBA light-heavyweight title against Mexico’s Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.

Beterbiev has not fought in London since losing to unified heavyweight king Oleksandr Usyk at the 2012 Olympics.

“I never back down from a challenge, and Anthony Yarde is a top contender who asked for this fight,” said Beterbiev. “I look forward to fighting in London for the first time since the Olympics.

“Yarde called me ‘slow’ after my fight with Joe Smith Jr, but slow and steady wins the race and on January 28, I will win in London.”