Here are the most eye-catching stories from this weekend’s boxing action:
– Three-belt light heavyweight champ Artur Beterbiev improved his record to 19-0 and continued with his 19-fight KO/TKO streak Saturday at Wembley Arena in London when he stopped a game Anthony Yarde in the eighth round.
Surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly), the home country fighter was ahead on two of the three judges’ scorecards at the time of the corner stoppage.
Make no mistake about it, Yarde (now 23-3 with 22 KOs) fought his heart out and had his moments. But this fight was clearly controlled by the Russia-born, Montreal-residing defending champ, who was up 68-65 on this writer’s scorecard going into the eighth. Beterbiev had been building steam and was solidly in control for a bit before the end came.
“He definitely didn’t win any rounds,” ESPN analyst and former two-division world champ Andre Ward said of Yarde. “He definitely had moments and he gave the judges reasons to be like, ‘Hey, maybe he won that round.’ But I think Beterbiev took over.
“You have stretches in fights where a fighter doesn’t give up and fights back and has moments but you feel like he’s not winning the rounds. It was like that in the last few rounds when Beterbiev came on and you felt it.
“You could feel the air being sucked out of Anthony Yarde. You could see he was getting tired, but it was also difficult because every time you thought Beterbiev would have him, he would respond and charge back, and he would put Beterbiev on his backfoot…At moments it was a difficult struggle to score, especially early on.”
Beterbiev, with the impressive victory is now looking forward to a unification bout with WBA light heavyweight champ and fellow Russian, Dmitry Bivol.
“I want Bivol,” Beterbiev said in a post-fight interview Saturday. “Right now, it’s like everything…In this fight we have four belts…It’s a really good fight, I think so.”
Bivol, who is coming off a stellar 2022, which included victories over Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gilberto Ramirez, has said that he also wants this four-belt 175 lb. unification clash. There have been reports, however, that Bivol may be in negotiations with Alvarez for a September rematch.
At any rate, Beterbiev continues with his reign and his KO/TKO streak, as well as furthering his case to be included among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
– Alexis Rocha vs. George Ashie may have been the main event on Saturday’s DAZN/Golden Boy card at YouTube Theater in Inglewood, California, but the main topic of conversation pre-main event and post-main event centered around WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford.
The question was whether a photo Crawford took with Golden Boy figurehead/namesake Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy exec Bernard Hopkins was more than just a photo-op.
De La Hoya has certainly been motoring the rumor mill when it comes to Crawford and a possible union with Golden Boy.
“He [Crawford] wants to fight the big fights, against Errol Spence. I told him, ‘We can make that fight happen,’” De La Hoya told DAZN’s Chris Mannix prior to the Rocha-Ashie main event. “Ryan Garcia versus Tank Davis is going to open a lot of doors for us that will lead to us doing business with PBC [Premier Boxing Champions].
“I told Crawford, ‘Let us present to you a schedule of fights leading up to Spence.’ I have all the confidence in the world that Crawford versus Spence will happen…
“We did discuss a Rocha fight,” De La Hoya added. “I think it’s a big possibility. He’s number three in the world. Rocha versus Crawford, who knows.”
The picture being painted by De La Hoya is of Crawford possibly joining up with Golden Boy Promotions for a bout with Rocha, which could then lead to a bout with top Golden Boy welter Vergil Ortiz Jr. and/or a revisited push to get an Errol Spence unification fight put together with Premier Boxing Champions (PBC).
Worst case scenario for Golden Boy is that this is all nonsense that draws a lot of attention to Rocha, Ortiz, and Golden Boy in general. The best case scenario for the promotional company is obvious– Terence Crawford becomes a partner.
– Boxing purists may have conniptions when they hear the name Jake Paul, but it’s obvious that many top boxing minds and network execs see the value in his boxing presence. With his February 26 ESPN+ PPV bout against Tommy “Tyson Fury’s kid brother” Fury in Saudi Arabia, the YouTuber/Influencer/former Disney actor will hold the distinction of having topped cards on ESPN, Showtime, DAZN, and Triller in his short seven-fight pro career.
His prominence was shoved down throats again this past Saturday when ESPN held his in-ring face-off with Fury prior to the Artur Beterbiev-Anthony Yarde main event at London’s Wembley Arena.
Say what you will about Paul, but the guy just may be the best self-promoter in the boxing business right now and his quick emergence to the boxing main stage could offer multiple lessons to a sport that often struggles to reach new audiences.