What’s Next for Anthony Yarde?
By George Priestman
It has been almost 6 months since Anthony Yarde took a big step up in class to fight Russian Sergey Kovalev for the world light-heavyweight championship in August.
Recently, he completed a low-level fight in Spain that wasn’t publicised by promoter Frank Warren.
In the complete mismatch of a fight, he stopped lowly fighter Diego Jair Ramirez (4-49) in just two rounds. Nonetheless, many will be wondering where the next step is for the self-proclaimed ‘Lion in the Camp’
When it was announced that he would be going to Kovalev’s back yard in Chelyabinsk, Russia to fight for the world belt, many were worried it was simply too big a step up.
For years, Kovalev had dominated the world light-heavyweight scene and had built up a reputation as a very dangerous fighter.
At the same time in England, Yarde was building his trade on BT Sport, knocking out and stopping opponents for fun. Improving fight on fight, there were calls for him to step up to European level before going up to fight the biggest names. However, the opportunity arose and chose to step right up to the very top.
On the night, the difference in class was there to see. Kovalev utilised his stiff jab that not only hurt Yarde but keep him at bay. As the rounds went on, it seemed the plan for Yarde was to wait until the later rounds and then really take it to the aging champion.
Yarde did that in the eighth, rocking his opponent with brutal body shots before going for the head. He had the Russian rocked and on the ropes but couldn’t finish the job. He was floored three rounds later with a stiff jab after a small onslaught by the champion.
It was an invaluable experience and his attitude and boldness to take the fight showed us that he isn’t afraid of losing and isn’t afraid of facing the best. Yarde will have to work his way back up to that level, however, there are fights out there for the Brit, who will be a better fighter after having this humbling experience.
The recent fight in Spain come completely under the radar, but Frank Warren explained the reasoning behind the complete mismatch:
“The WBO, for instance, don’t entertain contenders for title shots or eliminators if they are coming in off a loss. Now Yarde is up and running again we can navigate him back to world title contention at the earliest opportunity.”
As mentioned, Bivol and Beterbiev are looking at a unification bout means the top fighters are occupied for the time being. For Yarde, there are plenty of big fights out there.
According to BoxRec, he is ranked as the 14th best in the division. In the belt rankings, he is 11th in the WBC and in the vacant WBO belt, he is ranked seventh. This is the belt that Kovalev recently lost after Saul ‘Canelo’ Alverez came up two weight classes to knock out his much bigger opponent. However, this belt could be a very viable option.
One fight that fans would love to see is the all-British clash between Callum Johnson and Yarde for that vacant WBO title. It would sell as a huge domestic and world title fight with both men boasting similar records.
Both have won 18 fights and lost once to superior champions. With Johnson being knocked out by Beterbiev and Yarde by Kovalev. With Johnson being ranked 15th in the WBO belt and seventh in the IBF.
Calls have also been made to see an all British affair between up and coming fighter Joshua Buatsi who is unbeaten but has been barely tested so far. It would be a mouth-watering affair as it would pit the best two up and coming British fighters against each other. Potentially on the line could be three belts, Yarde’s WBO Inter-Continental light-heavyweight title and Buatsi’s WBA International light heavyweight title and British title.
Either way, Yarde will have plenty of options. Realistically, after the little run out recently, he may want another fight at least on BT Sport before heading up against the likes of Johnson, Buatsi or even Dominic Boesel for the IBO title. His stock has risen because of that Kovalev fight, but the hard work starts now as the question is can he use the experience to springboard his career?