Artur Beterbiev celebrates by dropping to the canvas as the referee calls off the fight after Anthony Yarde’s corner threw in the towel
Artur Beterbiev emerged from a firefight with Britain’s Anthony Yarde to retain his WBO, WBC and IBF light heavyweight world titles in London.
Both men fought brilliantly in a back-and-forth epic over eight rounds.
Yarde injured Beterbiev in an amazing fifth round but was then pulled out of the fight in the eighth round after being knocked down by a powerful right hand.
Russia’s Beterbiev held his 100 percent KO record as Yarde’s wait for the world title continues.
“I could say it was a bad fight but I’m sitting here,” Beterbiev told BT Sport.
“Anyone in this division can bat and so can Anthony. He is young and he has time and I hope he will do well in the future.
“If I’m being honest, I was prepared for all those punches and that’s why I could always come back to him.”
Yarde came out epic
Yarde was a big underdog entering the competition, but his stock will rise quickly after an impressive performance that many might have put his credit to.
A possible win for the 31-year-old Londoner has been compared to some of the biggest upsets on British soil, but the stage was certainly set for a classic as Yarde, clad in white shorts with gold embellishments, was welcomed by the heroes at the OVO Arena at Wembley.
Despite being the defending champion, Beterbiev burst into the game at lightning speed and was heavily booed in the process.
The first round was jittery for much of the game, with Yarde clearly suspicious of the 38-year-old Russian’s famed power, who had produced 18 knockouts from 18 fights.
But it was the Brit who landed first with a nice left counterattack that pushed Beterbiev backwards.
“Fight this guy,” was the cry from Beterbiev’s corner and the combined champion tried to answer, charging forward whenever he could.
Beterbiev, who holds a Canadian passport, is now 19 fights unbeaten
Beterbiev’s face was flushed in the second thanks to Yarde’s excellent counterattack and when the Russian landed a sweet right hand his opponent immediately responded with another left hook.
Yarde then had to fight his way out of the corner after Beterbiev did a great job closing the gap, a feat he accomplished throughout the fight.
However, the crowd was firmly on Yarde’s side and each of his shots elicited a huge roar.
A strong Yarde uppercut caught the eye, but Beterbiev kept pushing forward, undeterred.
There was no rest for Yarde and he stunned several times in the fourth round as Beterbiev upped the pace.
A firefight then erupted in the fifth when Yarde landed a massive right-hand flush on Beterbiev.
The crowd was on their feet barking for a finish, with Beterbiev obviously injured, but the Russian threw himself into Yarde’s arms to gain a crucial few seconds of recovery.
Yarde charged forward to end the fight, but Beterbiev fought back as well, unleashing a series of punches that left his rival teetering on his feet when the bell rang.
Blood was now oozing from Beterbiev’s left eye while Yardes swelled with every passing second.
Yarde tried to repeat the shot that had faltered Beterbiev by going over the champion’s jab for the sixth time, but this time his opponent was clever in attack.
Both fighters unleashed brutal punches in a sensational fight
The seventh round produced even more stunning action as Yarde stepped forward again, seemingly injuring Beterbiev.
But Beterbiev circled the danger and masterfully turned the British Chaser to trap him in the corner, where he then unloaded and a dazed Yarde could only withstand.
Yarde seemed on the brink of sinking but stayed on his feet and was eventually able to escape and see the round.
The eighth round saw the final shots of an incredible fight. A tiring Yarde grabbed a left uppercut, but Beterbiev read it beautifully and landed a strong right hand.
Another followed Yarde, and while the challenger was able to get up, he looked back at his corner, clearly unsure whether to continue.
The referee allowed the fight to continue but Yarde’s trainer Tunde Ajayi quickly made the decision to wave the white flag as Beterbiev charged at his fighter.
Moses Itauma, 18, needed 14 seconds to claim victory in his pro debut
Mixed evening for the Itauma brothers
Karl Itauma fell against his first pro defeat Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna in a big shock on the undercard.
Itauma and his brother Moses Itauma were considered the most important support for Yarde as the siblings fought on the same map for the first time in their young careers.
Karol was a huge favorite in the fight for the WBC international light heavyweight title but warned of a possible bad night in the works from the first round as he was constantly tagged by rights from Maderna.
After wobbling in the fourth round, Argentina’s Maderna made him pay in the fifth round with a simple straight left-right combination that knocked Karol down.
Moses brought some joy back to the Itauma family as he took a full 14 seconds to stop the Czech Republic Marcel Bode later in the night.
It was a brief but successful debut in the pro ranks for the 18-year-old sensation who is aiming to become the youngest heavyweight champion in history.
Mike Tyson currently holds the record, having won his first world title aged 20.