Anthony Yarde has dismissed being an underdog against Artur Beterbiev and says becoming a unified world champion will be more special given the Russian’s perfect knockout record.
Montreal-based Beterbiev, holder of the WBO, WBC and IBF world light-heavyweight titles, boasts one of the best records in boxing with all 18 of his professional wins coming inside the distance.
But Yarde has home advantage at Wembley Arena on Saturday and the 31-year-old Londoner – seven years Beterbiev’s junior – carries his own considerable punching power with 22 of his 23 victories being by knockout.
“Being underdog, overdog, middledog doesn’t matter to me. I’m a dog,” Yarde said at their pre-fight press conference at Brentford Civic Centre.
“When I get in that ring and start throwing my hands about, everyone knows what I can do.
“I understand why the bookies have got it (the odds) like they have, and that’s what edges me on.
“He should be respected because of what he’s done, but when you get in the ring you try and take away the respect from your opponent.
“This fight means three belts, legacy and history. It feels like it’s earned, no easy way.
“A lot of fighters get a mandatory world title or someone that they are meant to beat. They are the A side.
“But I like this route, it gives me a good feeling, and the best part of the whole thing is that it’s him.”
Yarde’s solitary career defeat came in his previous world title challenge against another Russian, Sergey Kovalev, in August 2019.
The British boxer had travelled to Kovalev’s home city of Chelyabinsk and gave an impressive performance, being close to victory in the eighth round before he was eventually knocked out in the 11th.
Yarde said: “The first (title) fight I was green. 18 fights in, a big novice in the sport.
“I had heart and went out to Russia, it was a very different experience.
“Sometimes you go through things on your journey to strengthen and prepare you.
“I’ve learned since then as well. I’m a different kind of fighter and I’m ready for Saturday.”
Beterbiev boxed at the 2012 London Olympics as an amateur when he was beaten in the heavyweight division by Ukraine’s eventual gold medallist, Oleksandr Usyk.
He became a world champion in his 12th professional fight in November 2017 and celebrated his 38th birthday last weekend.
Beterbiev made headlines last month by describing Yarde’s physique as that of a “bodybuilder”, but he insisted that remark was not intended to insult his rival.
“I said he looks like a bodybuilder because I don’t have this muscle,” said Beterbiev, who punched his fist into a table at the previous press conference but was calm throughout on this occasion.
“I don’t say that to be bad, he looks strong. If it’s a tough fight we will be ready.”
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