Unified 175-pound titleholder Artur Beterbiev will defend his belts and seek his 19th knockout in as many fights against Anthony Yarde on Saturday in London (ESPN+).
ARTUR BETERBIEV (18-0, 18 KOS) VS. ANTHONY YARDE (23-2, 22 KOS)
When: Saturday, Jan. 28
Time: 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT (main event later in show)
Where: OVO Arena Wembley, London
Division: Light heavyweights (175 pounds)
At stake: Beterbiev’s IBF, WBC and WBO titles
Pound-for-pound ranking: Beterbiev No. 12
Odds: Beterbiev 7-1 favorite (average of multiple outlets)
Also on the card: Artem Dalakian vs. David Jimenez, flyweights (for Dalakian’s WBA title); Willy Hutchinson vs. Emil Markic, light heavyweights; Karol Itauma vs. Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna, light heavyweights
Prediction: Beterbiev KO 8
Background: Beterbiev and Yarde have knocked out a combined 40 of their 41 victims, a clear indication that both men have unusual punching power. The problem for Yarde could be that Beterbiev has been stopping a higher level of opposition. The 38-year-old Russian won his first title against Enrico Koelling in 2017 and has added two more belts since, all in a span of seven fights. The two-time Olympian is coming off a second-round knockout of Joe Smith Jr. in a title-unification showdown last June. Yarde, a 31-year-old Londoner, was outboxed and then stopped by then-beltholder Sergey Kovalev in his first title fight in 2019. He’s 6-1 since, including an upset split-decision setback against Lyndon Arthur in 2020. He avenged that loss by stopping Arthur in four rounds in their rematch the following year. He followed that with another stoppage of Stefani Koykov last November, his most-recent fight. The Beterbiev-Yarde fight was originally scheduled for October but was pushed back because the champion was injured.
ALEXIS ROCHA (21-1, 13 KOS) VS. GEORGE ASHIE (33-5-1, 25 KOS)
Editor’s note: This preview was updated after original opponent Anthony Young was pulled from the card.
When: Saturday, Jan. 28
Time: 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT (main event later in show)
Where: YouTube Theater, Inglewood, California
Division: Welterweight (147 pounds)
At stake: No major titles
Pound-for-pound ranking: None
Also on the card: Floyd Schofield vs. Alberto Mercado, lightweights; Bektemir Melikuziev vs. Daniel Terry, super middleweights; Oscar Collazo vs. Yudel Reyes, strawweights
Prediction: Rocha UD
Background: Rocha has won five consecutive fights since he lost a unanimous decision to slick Rashidi Ellis in 2020, a streak that has lifted into the rankings of two of the four major sanctioning bodies. He’s the WBO’s No. 3 contender, behind only titleholder Terence Crawford, Vergil Ortiz and Keith Thurman. The 25-year-old boxer-puncher from Orange County, California, is coming off a near-shutout decision over Jesus Antonio Perez Campos last October. Ashie agreed to fight Rocha early this week after original opponent Anthony Young was removed from the card. Ashie has fought primarily in his native Ghana. The 38-year-old has won five consecutive fights — all in Ghana — since he lost a close decision to Irishman Stephen Ormond in 2018 in Scotland. He last fought in March of last year, when he countryman Robert Quaye in eight rounds in Accra.
ALSO FIGHTING THIS WEEK
Cesar Francis vs. Jesus Sarocho, junior welterweights, Plant City, Florida (ProBox).
Serhii Bohachuk vs. Nathaniel Gallimore, junior middleweights, Montebello, California (UFC Fight Pass).