Tunde Ajayi Feels Anthony Yarde Can Dominate Artur Beterbiev
On June 18 at Madison Square Garden, Artur Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs) destroyed reigning WBO light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr (28-4) by way of a second-round TKO in two rounds, and now holds three of the four recognized world titles at 175.
Before the fight, promoter Bob Arum stated he would like the winner to face WBO mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde (22-2, 21KOs) in London, England in October. In what was not a coincidence, Yarde and his trainer, Tunde Ajayi, were in attendance at the Garden.
Following Beterbiev’s win, Ajayi spoke exclusively to the Behind The Gloves podcast about what he witnessed. He admitted surprise that Beterbiev handled Smith with such ease. But when asked to assess Yarde’s chances against the hard-hitting unified champion, the trainer said the champ is not the force others make him out to be.
“He’s a human being. He bleeds, he feels pain like everybody else. People put this perception in their minds of some monster. But where we’re from, we ain’t on that. We’re not looking at that. We’re going to do to him what he has done to Joe Smith, and that’s how I see it.”
Against Smith, Beterbiev fought with the precision of a surgeon. He figured out his faults early, then struck with cobra-like venom. Every punch was short and accurate as he melted Smith like a hot knife through butter.
Yarde was stopped in eleven by then-WBO champ Sergey Kovalev in August 2019. In December 2020, Lyndon Arthur defeated him by surprise twelve-round split decision. He avenged the loss to Arthur with a decisive fourth-round knockout in December 2021.
DON’T SLEEP ON MY FIGHTER
Ultimately, Ajayi believes Yarde is a fighter of immense talent who has a kind of “it” factor that cannot be measured. He is emphatic in thinking Beterbiev has yet to be in the ring with the likes of what his fighter will bring to the ring.
“Yarde is an individual that creates energy, that brings energy, a great aura about him; something that I don’t think Beterbiev has had yet in front of him.
So, It’ll be interesting to see how he deals with it, how he deals with someone who’s skilled, can punch […] We know what it’s like to lose and we’ve come back stronger, and Anthony can hit as well. So you’ve only got a great fight in the making. It will be in London, and it’s going to be fantastic for all the UK fans.”
Against Kovalev, Yarde had success in the middle rounds. However, his inexperience showed as he tired out late. In his first fight with Arthur, Yarde had no answers for the jab. The rematch saw Yarde take that shot away. He got underneath Arthur’s jab, landing with his own hard shots before taking him out.
However, he would be facing a Beterbiev who brings a combination of power and technical prowess Yarde has never been in the ring with. Can Yarde upset the applecart and pull off what many pundits would consider a significant upset? At the very least, it will be a daunting task for Yarde, who must be at his absolute best to win.
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By: Michael Wilson Jr.