Home Boxing News Anthony Yarde needs to push Artur Beterbiev backwards to beat him, says...

Anthony Yarde needs to push Artur Beterbiev backwards to beat him, says Callum Johnson

Artur Beterbiev and Anthony Yarde. Photo credit: Queensberry Promotions

Anthony Yarde 23-2 (22) will need to turn in a career-best performance to defeat unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev 18-0 (18) when they clash at Wembley Arena in London, England on Saturday night.

WBC, WBO and IBF 175-pound champion will be making the first defence of his three belts after lifting the WBO strap from Joe Smith Jr by second round knockout in his last outing in June.

Callum Johnson, who retired in 2021 with a record of 20-1 (14), arguably came the closest to beating Beterbiev in October 2018 when he recovered from a first-round knockdown to drop the champion in the second stanza. In the end it didn’t matter, with Johnson being counted out at the 2:36 mark of the fourth.

He has warned Yarde against getting complacent against the champion.

“Artur Beterbiev is a dog, he is an animal. He will have no qualms about hitting Anthony Yarde on the back of the head. You need to be sharp all the time, you need to be careful all the time, you cannot let your guard down for one second, because he will take advantage of it,” Johnson told The Sun.

“But, to have any chance of beating him, you have to be able to beat him at his own game. Rough him up, push him back, hit him hard, make him feel uncomfortable.

“If you try to outbox on the backfoot then he is comfortable, because that is all he has ever been used to his opponents doing. Someone hitting him hard and pushing him back will be unfamiliar to him and that’s the only way to beat him, in my opinion.”

Yarde has been the distance just twice in his 25 bout pro career – a four-round decision in his second fight and a split decision loss to Lyndon Arthur in December 2020 that he reversed with a fourth-round knockout in their rematch a year later.

“Anthony Yarde can punch, so he has a puncher’s chance,” Johnson continued. “Yarde might have faster single shots and hand speed but Beterbiev’s timing, ring craft and boxing brain could nullify the little advantages Yarde has.

“He can box, he has a good defence, he is a very good fighter because he has a little bit of everything. But personally I don’t think he has anything that Beterbiev has never seen before or cannot deal with.”

Johnson wonders how much long Beterbiev can last at the top level with the Canadian-based Russian, who is two years shy of his 40th birthday.

“Beterbiev is now 38, though, and he will have to age at some point,” he said. “For Yarde to win I think we will need to see Yarde at the best he has ever been and Beterbiev on the slide.

“But in Beterbiev’s last win over Joe Smith Jr he looked as young and good as ever. He looked as cold and calculated as ever and got arguably his best win and performance as a professional. But things can change overnight.”