Anthony Yarde defiantly says: “I’ll be an all-around fighter”
BN: How do you reflect on the struggle?
People don’t give me a chance; it’s good for me to draw energy from that. Being a loser can push you forward but it can also frustrate you, so I’m glad I stepped out there and gave it all instead of being too cautious or too reckless. We had a good fight.
If I had known I was in hand position, I would have jumped a bit more in the later rounds – kept a little more distance instead of trying to take him down. That’s the only thing I would change.
That is experience. I had 12 amateur matches; I had a very short professional boxing career as I had a lot of knockouts on my record. I didn’t get the decisive right in the first match against Lyndon Arthur, although at the time I thought I was comfortably leading. When I looked back, I thought, ‘That’s not how I feel there’. From that fight, I regained my old mentality. ‘I won’t go far with anyone – the fight will end in the ring’. When I fought Dec Spelman, [afterwards] I’m listening to the comments, I’m looking at some of the commentators’ scorecards, and it seems like everything is going against me. I’d rather bet it all on the ring and have an outcome where we know exactly who wins.
At the time I thought it was very close. When I was there, I didn’t think too much about the innings – the first time I got cut. I just know it’s a melee fight – we’re trading.
BN: Why, after the first rounds, do you start growing more and more trees?
If I hadn’t done it when I did, he’d have done something and maybe he’d have achieved great success sooner. My tactic worked, until [when] the war is over. When I started to change it, that’s when I started to throw more punches to hold him a little longer; to earn his much respect. If we got to innings 9 and 10, I could have started moving again, just to reinforce it, but it was over when it happened.
BN: What makes him so good?
The difference between us is experience. It was his eighth world title match; it was my second time. When we were both a bit tired – when it came to trading – maybe he had the edge in knowing what to do. When he got hit by a big hit, he was walking around the ring. He’s definitely on the pound-for-pound list. He’s got a phenomenal jab, and he’s got a constant pressure – he’s very calculated. Those are the two best things about him. He cut the ring expertly; he hit hard. I hit him with my right hand, I came to try to corner him with a rope, and people thought he was just turning his back on me, but actually he hit me with his right hand, and that was That’s why I’m cornered. He hit me and then spun – he got out of the corner because he had a good shot.
When we were both stitching together, he came up to me and just said go ahead and that I gave him the hardest fight – that he’s had a lot of world titles and so on. He kept pointing to his eyes and saying, ‘Look – no one has ever landed so much with me – you hit so hard’. [My cut] looks like five stitches.
BN: What do you think about coach Tunde Ajayi’s pause?
Boxers and coaches have always had different views on such things. I am there, and I am very ambitious, I will always see the possibilities if the fight does not stop. There are a lot of moments in boxing where, ‘Wow – who saw that coming?’, and Beterbiev is the type of boxer that can be hit. We’re trading – I’ve rocked him before. There are two sides – [Ajayi] did a great job because Beterbiev is a great puncher. He hurt me – that’s probably when he started to take the unloading seriously. On the other hand he could have been reckless and I could have landed. But I’d rather end up like that than get hurt there.
BN: Who is better – Sergey Kovalev of 2019 or Beterbiev of 2023?
If Kovalev had been in England and the circumstances were different, I would have won that match. In both fights, I didn’t feel inferior. [Against Beterbiev] we traded there so we both felt each other’s strength. Most of the shots Kovalev hit me were jabs. It wasn’t really forehand or top lane – that match ended in a fatigue stop. This fight ends by stopping for a good punch. They punched equally hard, but Beterbiev was more consistent with his pressure.
Kovalev’s fight is more about rehydration – lack of experience. I can’t get a sealed drink for more than two hours after weighing – that’s pathological in itself. [The Beterbiev fight] is a higher speed way.
BN: And you, from then until now?
I have improved. With experience, you are more comfortable in certain situations. In this fight, I showed more than I had; in the match against Kovalev, I didn’t change my style much, except when I injured him. I’m getting better as a boxer; learn the rings; I know to turn it on sooner, instead of waiting so long. I am developing, by experience.
BN: Do you think your performance proves you’re Britain’s best light heavyweight?
One hundred percent. Based on the performance, there’s no one in the UK doing what I’m doing. I had the biggest name in my weight class, in British boxing, and [am] There are the most dangerous battles. I’m having bigger battles – I can take easier paths. You haven’t seen them take risks my way. I will return a complete warrior. Every time I have a fight, I get better.
BN: Who wins, if and when Beterbiev vs. Dmitry Bivol?
Basically, Bivol has been great. Beterbiev is like a steamship – he knocks down everyone he’s fought with. I’m going with the guy with whom I shared a ring.