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YARDE SET TO REACH FOR THE STARS

By Frank Warren

ANTHONY YARDE HAS used the word himself in recent weeks and I do suspect there is a sense of destiny about his moment of truth at Wembley on Saturday night.

Defeating the undefeated powerhouse Artur Beterbiev is clearly a big ask, but I firmly believe Anthony will come up with the answers and then some at the OVO Arena, which also staged his professional debut back in 2015.

However, the two occasions will not be comparible in any way. When Anthony took to the pro ring for the first time it was about 5.30pm and people were still gathering outside the arena. Without employing too much hindsight, it did quickly become evident that we could be onto something special with this athletic, muscular specimen from Stratford.

The power has always been there, as evidenced by his record, but it is how he has harnessed it that has impressed me over the years. While some of his stoppages have been of the quickfire variety, he has never been one to rush in and always attempts to dictate the tempo and not waste shots.

His personality and charisma quickly resonated throughout boxing circles and beyond. It is not a stretch at all to say he is the most recognisable light heavyweight in the country and one of the biggest stars of the sport.

I don’t think he has been in a dull fight even though his first match with Lyndon Arthur didn’t really live up to the explosive expectations. The rematch did.

It is that Anthony Yarde we need to see against Beterbiev, one who looks to dominate right from the off and play to his strengths.

Anthony picking up three world title belts on Saturday would be one of the biggest thrills of my time in boxing and it is something I am confident of seeing happen. My delight would mostly be reserved for Anthony, Tunde and the team who, along with myself, have stuck together right from the beginning with the goal of ruling the light heavyweight division.

It has been a story with a couple of bumps in the road, but when isn’t it? We all remained loyal to each other and I so hope we reap the ultimate dividend on Saturday. I may have been struggling with my back in recent months but try stopping me jumping for joy if it all goes our way and Anthony takes home the bounty!

You might think I am simply being an optimist, but there is a lot of thought and planning that goes into mapping out routes to big championship fights such as this. Beterbiev is the fight Anthony has wanted for some time and, believe me, he fancies the job.

Beterbiev has just turned 38-years-old and Father Time can be an unforgiving foe. Much is made of his 18 straight stoppages, but this also shows that most of his fights have gone early and only once has he entered the 12th round.

If Anthony sets the pace we expect him to then this could be a factor. I would also be confident of Anthony proving successful against the names on the record of Beterbiev.

As ever, the proof of the pudding will be in the punching and Anthony will need to get everything right against a proven champion.

It is going to be such a special night, Bob Arum and Top Rank will be in town to support their man and Anthony deserves a packed out Wembley to get behind him and roar him on as he chases his dream.

Wembley will also witness the highly-anticipated debut of our new heavyweight star in the making, Moses Itauma, the recently crowned World Youth Champion.

I predict this will be a thrilling ride and I am so looking forward to getting him going and bringing him to the attention of the wider public.

It will be a real family affair on the night because his brother Karol is fighting for a first title in his 10th fight. The Itaumas will be out in force at Wembley, that is for sure.

Beterbiev v Yarde is not the only world title action on the card and I am delighted that, between ourselves and K2 Promotions, we are giving a platform for WBA world flyweight champion Artem Dalakian to resume his career – considering the awful events in his homeland of Ukraine – and defend against the also unbeaten challenger, David Jimenez from Costa Rica.

These are two top-drawer flyweights and we should be in for a thriller.

Don’t miss a minute of what hopefully will be a magical night by tuning into BT Sport 1 from 7pm on Saturday.

OUR MAN AND British, Commonwealth and IBF European welterweight champion Ekow Essuman did us all proud on Saturday night by coming up trumps in a tough defence on an away show against Chris Kongo in Manchester.

Watching the fight unfold, it was amusing to listen to the Sky commentators gradually attempt to ease the toothpaste back into the tube as their early optimism faded with each passing round. Nothing changes, eh.

Credit to Kongo, who is clearly a quality operator, but Ekow won it for me and he is such a resilient character, who gets stronger and stronger as the fight goes on.

Congratulations Ekow and we look forward to plotting out the next chapter of your story soon.


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