By Frank Warren
COME OCTOBER OF this year, we can look forward to welcoming one of the most formidable fighters on the planet to London when Artur Beterbiev rocks up to take on our own Anthony Yarde in defence of his three world title belts.
We had to think ahead with our strategy for putting this fight in place, with agreement having been reached before Beterbiev even laid a glove on Joe Smith jr in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Anthony holds the No.1 spot with the WBO and would be called as mandatory in any case so, along with Bob Arum of Top Rank, we put our plans into action and have booked the 02 Arena for what will be a mighty collision between two huge punching light heavies.
It will be a big bang-up, that is for sure.
Beterbiev, who has not been the most active over recent years, certainly looked light on his feet and quick on the draw against Smith jr, who was overwhelmed by the power and accuracy of the Canada-based 37-year-old.
Watching the fight reminded me of what a great pity it was that Callum Johnson was unable to participate in a challenge to Smith jr in January. Covid struck Callum at just the wrong time and he missed out on a golden opportunity.
It could have all played out very differently. I believe Callum would have beaten Smith jr and then it could have been him having a rematch against Beterbiev or jumping straight into a domestic with Anthony.
Now we are doing it the other way around and counting on Anthony to seize the belts and then bring Callum deservedly back into the mix.
Some people might think I am losing my marbles, but I believe Anthony can do a job on Beterbiev. I really do. Yes, he is a big puncher, but then so is Anthony and Callum has shown before that Beterbiev can be rocked.
I wouldn’t be so blunt as to say Anthony just needs to stick it on him, but he will need to be at it right from the first bell and set the tempo for the fight. I honestly believe that if Anthony had applied himself in a more typical fashion against Sergey Kovalev he would have been a world champion already.
He will need to let Beterbiev know he is in a fight from the off and box smartly and aggressively. He will have a partisan crowd roaring him in London on and he will need to make his capital gain count.
I have long believed that Anthony is world champion material. Yes, he has got it wrong a couple of times and looked a shadow of his normal self, but he is a fearsome competitor and more than a match for anyone in the division.
I won’t go over old ground, but Anthony endured a really difficult period during the pandemic that would’ve taken a toll on anyone. Now he is in a really good place and he and his team have learned lessons from their previous experiences that will serve them well this time around.
I have to give Anthony credit, he is a loyal soul and has stuck by the people who got him started in the pro game. Many fighters would have listened to the calls to ring the changes after a couple of setbacks, but his team pulled together and are strengthened by the wise counsel of James Cook, who provides valuable guidance to both Anthony and his trainer Tunde Ajayi.
Ultimate success will be all the more rewarding in the long run because all the team stuck together through thick and thin.
I very much hope this success comes on an October night on the Greenwich Peninsula.