Artur Beterbiev defends world titles with eighth-round stoppage of Anthony Yarde in incredible fight

Artur Beterbiev dropped Anthony Yarde in the eighth round  (Getty Images)
Artur Beterbiev dropped Anthony Yarde in the eighth round (Getty Images)

Artur Beterbiev defended his WBC, IBF and WBO light-heavyweight titles with an eight-round stoppage of Anthony Yarde, in one of the best fights in recent years.

Yarde produced a career-best performance for the first seven rounds, causing Beterbiev huge problems and he went into the eighth with two of the judges having him ahead.

But the Russian showed that trademark power to drop Yarde. He got to his feet, but his corner had seen enough by that point and the fight was waved off. It was the 19th win of Beterbiev’s professional career, and the 19th by stoppage.

It’s a victory that sets the stage for an undisputed bout with Dmitry Bivol later this year, with his fellow countryman, who beat Canelo Alvarez last year, holding the WBA belt.

“Everyone in this category can punch hard - Anthony did too,” Beterbiev told BT Sport after the fight.

“He’s young, he has time. I hope he does well in the future.

“To be honest, every punch we prepared for. That’s why I came back. We expect that, that’s why I won.”

It was a special fight at the Wembley Arena, one that Yarde made a great start to. He landed a number of left hooks in the opening rounds as Beterbiev marched forward, marking up the Russian’s eye.

Both staggered at points, the pair landing huge shots in every round but neither gave an inch. A remarkable fifth saw Beterbiev pushed back into his corner, but he responded with a massive uppercut on the bell.

By now both had swelling and had been cut, the pace remaining relentless. Yarde started the seventh brilliantly and landed a superb uppercut of his own, but in between those spells spent a painful 20 seconds in the corner as Beterbiev threw everything at him.

Yarde was right in the fight, threatening a big upset, going into the eighth, but a right hand from Beterbiev badly stumbled Yarde and another sent him to the canvas. The Brit just about beat the count, his corner though called time on the fight to save their man from what would likely have been a devastating knockout.

Earlier in the night, Moses Itauma made a flying start to life in the professional ranks. The 18-year-old believes he will break Mike Tyson’s record and becomes the youngest ever heavyweight world champion, and he needed 14 seconds to knock Marcel Bode down on his debut. That was all that was needed, with the referee swiftly waving the bout off.

It came after Itauma’s brother Karol suffered a shock defeat earlier in the night, the first time he had been beaten in his young career. Ezequiel Maderna was impressive throughout and dropped the 22-year-old in the fifth round in front of a stunned Wembley Arena crowd, and Itauma could not get back to his feet.

Artem Dalakian defended his WBA flyweight title with a points victory over David Jimenez, who was unable to become the first man from Costa Rica to win a professional world title.