The fight was combative and exciting. Big underdog Yarde had something to prove. He gave Beterbiev perhaps his most difficult professional fight, appearing to buzz the defending champion more than once.
In round one, Yarde came out jabbing. Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs) bobbed and looked for an opening. Yarde (23-3, 22 KOs) scored with a cuffing left. Beterbiev landed his own left. Yarde was slightly busier. Beterbiev scored with a left to the belly at the bell. Yarde opened round two by backing up, Beterbiev edged after him. Beterbiev scored with a left and right. Yarde fought back – scoring with a crisp uppercut.
Beterbiev looking to counter. Beterbiev upped the ante in round three. His jab was on point. He dug to the body. Yarde backed into the ropes. Bad idea. Beterbiev landed a solid left. Yarde worked the body. Beterbiev clipped Yarde with a heavy shot at the bell. The 38-year-old Beterbiev caught Yarde with hard punches to open round four.
Beterbiev had found his rhythm. Yarde battled back – until an enormous right wobbled him. Seconds later, an uppercut clipped Yarde – who went back to his corner with swelling around his left eye.
In round five, Beterbiev continued to stalk and rock. Yarde scored to the body and connected with a hard right that bothered Beterbiev. The champion moved around away to gather his senses. He ended the round by pounding Yarde with several punches in the corner. Beterbiev connected with an overhand right in round six. Challenger Yarde was bleeding from a cut under his right eye. He landed a jab.
Blood was streaming from a cut over the eye of Beterbiev. Yarde came out throwing hard blows in round seven. Beterbiev laid back.
Yarde scored with a combination that wobbled Beterbiev, who again backed off. The defending champion fought back – pounding Yarde with punches to the head and body. Yarde had found his second wind. Beterbiev clipped him with a hard blow in round eight. Yarde fought back. Beterbiev caught Yarde with an overhand right that sent the challenger falling to the canvas. Yarde got up on unsteady legs.
Referee Steve Gray allowed the fight to continue – until Beterbiev clubbed him with another right behind the ear. Gray waved the fight off after Yarde’s corner told him their man had had enough.
The time was 2:01 seconds into round eight.
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Most, if not all, boxing fans want Beterbiev to fight WBA champion (and fellow Russian) Dmitry Bivol.
“I want [Dmitry] Bivol,” said Beterbiev. “Right now, it’s everything. In that fight, we’ll have four belts. It’s a really good fight, I think. Bivol is a good job for me. If we can organize it, let’s do it.”
The fight would likely be a barnburner. Beterbiev has concussive power in both fists. Bivol is a sharp counterpower who’s on a roll.
Both are undefeated. I give the edge to Bivol.
Let’s get it done.
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