ANTHONY YARDE IS approaching what he calls ‘the biggest fight of his career’ on January 28 at the venue where it all began for him as a professional back in 2015.
On the 9th of May in 2015, Mitch Mitchell was in the opposite corner at what was formerly known as Wembley Arena. He lasted 15 seconds into the second round.
On January 28, live on BT Sport, at the newly titled OVO Arena, Wembley, Yarde goes up against the formidable unified world light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev for three belts.
Getting ready for his triple assault on world light heavyweight honors within the confines of the Box Up Crime gym in the heart of Ilford, Yarde cuts a contented figure. Sure of himself, knowing what he is coming up against and utterly convinced he will be going home with the bounty.
“I’m relaxed, I’m good and it is the biggest fight of my career,” said the 31-year-old, who happily acknowledges the odds will not fall in his favor going into battle against an 18-0 champion with 18 KOs. “I am definitely happy that I have finally got to this stage and, in my mind, I have got to bring to reality where I am going afterwards as well.
“You know what, I watched boxing even before I started and I like to watch the big moments and how they all come around. My best performances have always been when I have been the underdog.
“I like being in that position at this stage of my career and I just feel like January 28 is going to be a very special night for me.”
Thinking back to that May evening back in 2015 when Yarde was one of the early birds on a long card that was only depleted by the withdrawal of Billy Joe Saunders from headline action. Bradley Skeete ultimately topped the bill that also included Frank Buglioni, a fighter who would later be heavily linked to fighting the explosive newcomer to the 175lbs scene.
“It does feel like it was a while ago, but that moment is very fresh in my mind. Those were the days of weighing in on the day and for me this is now destiny.
“I had my pro debut in that arena and now I am about to have my unification bout in that arena and leave as the unified champion of the world.”
While his own fight might still be fresh in his mind, he was actually unaware that Saunders was not the bill-topper on his debut night.
“That shows you how focused I am on myself! Boxing is a long road and I have always been focused on myself. I have always paid homage to the people who have made it to the heights I want to get to. I have surpassed some of those heights and I still have some to pass.
“If I wasn’t focused on myself I don’t think I would have gotten here. A lot of people thought I was being silly or lying when I said I didn’t know who was on the same card as me or I didn’t know some of the guys who were in my weight class. I just focused on myself.
“The Buglioni thing, when that was happening and people were talking about us fighting, I thought that fight was going to happen. It didn’t happen and that’s why I don’t focus on anyone other than myself.
“You don’t know how someone else’s career is going to go and you don’t know their decisions. I was adamant that the fight was going to happen because it was being talked about so much and then he retired!
“It didn’t slow down my career in any way, shape or form, but it is why I have always been an advocate of focusing on yourself.”
Artur Beterbiev v Anthony Yarde for the WBC, WBO and IBF world light heavyweight titles takes place at the OVO Arena, Wembley on January 28, live on BT Sport. The bumper card also features the WBA world flyweight title fight between unbeaten fighters Artem Dalakian v David Jiminez.
Willy Hutchinson and Karol Itauma fight for the WBO Intercontinental and WBC International light heavyweight titles respectively, with the show also featuring top prospects Charles Frankham, Umar Khan, Sean Noakes, Joshua Frankham, Khalid Ali and Tommy Fletcher.
Tickets for Beterbiev vs Yarde are priced from £50 and are available from AXS.com and Ticketmaster.co.uk.