UNIFIED WORLD LIGHT heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev and his challenger Anthony Yarde met the media for the final time today ahead of their highly-anticipated showdown at the OVO Arena, Wembley on Saturday.
Yarde and Beterbiev were joined by their Hall of Fame promoters – Frank Warren and Bob Arum – and a selection of key quotes from the event are below.
“38 years ago this month we (Bob Arum) did Don Curry v Colin Jones in Birmingham and that was the first world title fight we did together. Look at this, 38 years later, we are delivering between us a fight between two big punching fighters who can box as well and this is going to be something really special.
“We welcome Artur and his team coming over to defend his titles and I just feel we are in for something extremely special on the night. As a boxing fan, I can’t wait to see it. It is going to be a real bust-up.
“Anthony was brought to my attention by Tunde, a friend of long years, as an amateur and he was setting the scene alight. I liked what I saw and, when I met him, I thought he was an extremely nice young man. He’s worked very hard to get where he has considering the experience he had.
“He doesn’t shy away from anything, any fights we’ve wanted to make, he doesn’t care who it is. He didn’t shy away when we made the first world title fight for him against Kovalev in Russia and it was a fight he should have truly won. It tells you a lot about him that he was prepared to go there to the other guy’s backyard. He went out there and it was brilliant how he performed, he was so close to winning that title.
“I think he learned a lot from that, I think the whole team learned a lot from that fight and I genuinely believe he has the tools to create what the bookmakers will say will be an upset. He’s got the composure, he can box, he’s got fast movement and, more importantly, he can punch. I think he can match Artur in the punching department. Artur has the best record of any champion in the world at the moment.
“So I think it will be an outstanding fight and I really thank Bob, along with Top Rank and team, for helping to make this happen and get this fight in this country.”
“I am feeling pretty good. There are fighters today who are known for their power. The two heavyweights particularly, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, the lighter weight guys like Inoue and Terence Crawford, but I think pound-for-pound the biggest puncher in boxing today is the guy on my right. He has knocked out every opponent who has been put in front of him, not because he is not a good boxer, because he is, but he also has that magic that you can’t really train a fighter for. It is instinctive, the ability to punch and knock out an opponent.
“So I am very happy to be here. I know Anthony Yarde, I’ve followed him and he is a terrific fighter, also with a big punch. This should be a very, very exciting kind of fight. How the fight plays out a lot depends on Anthony, if he is going to go out and fight Artur like Joe Smith did, the fight will end early. If he boxes a bit with Artur the fight will end in the middle to late rounds.
“With all due respect to Yarde, Artur I believe will emerge the winner. It is no problem coming here, I have been around this game a long time and the big test for me was when Artur fought Smith because we did that fight in New York where Smith has a tremendous following. They cheered and they yelled and they screamed and what did that do? It incentivised Smith to take the fight to Artur. That was a big mistake because he knocked out Smith in two rounds.
“Hopefully Yarde will be excited by his fans, will go after Beterbiev and the fight will be over in a few rounds rather than more.”
“I am excited. It is a good feeling, it is part of my journey and I am happy to be here. Everyone knows what kind of character I am, I am very calm and I jump at opportunities. Sometimes you go through things on your journey to strengthen you and you go through certain things on your journey to prepare you as well. That is what I keep saying, I am so excited.
“For my first world title fight I was very green, I was 18 fights in and a big novice in the sport. I just had something and it was heart. I went out to Russia, it was a very different experience and a lot of things happened leading up to the fight, but I’ve got the mentality of once you get in the ring, you will see.
“It doesn’t matter now, my preparation is different now and I have learned since then as well. I am a different type of fighter with different life experiences. I am ready for Saturday.
“I feel like I am always smiling. I am happy to be alive, happy to be at this stage of my life as well. Being an underdog, overdog or middle dog don’t matter to me. I am a dog. When I get in that ring and start throwing my hands about, everyone knows what I can be like. If being an underdog does anything to me it is to give me that little push, that little urge.
“He has done a lot in the sport and that is why he should be respected. When we get in the ring there is no respect and you try and take the respect away from your opponent.”
“I feel good. I hope on January 28 I will change a little bit (to turn into a monster). I said he looks like a bodybuilder because of his muscles. I don’t have this muscle and I didn’t say it to mean anything bad. I said it because he looks strong!
“In our camp we always try to be ready for different scenarios. If it is a tough fight we are going to be ready, we will be ready for whatever. I just try to do my best.”