Light heavyweight contender Anthony Yarde 24-3 (23) can see only one winner in the four-belt unification bout between Artur Beterbiev 20-0 (20) and Dmitry Bivol 22-0 (11).
Russian-born Canadian Beterbiev, 39, and Kyrgyzstan-born Russian Bivol, 33, are expected to face each other in the ring in Saudi Arabia on June 1.
Beterbiev holds the WBC, WBO and IBF titles at 175-pounds while Bivol is the longtime WBA champion. The winner of the fight will claim the prestigious Ring Magazine title at light heavyweight.
England’s Yarde, 32, boxed a blinder against Beterbiev at Wembley Arena in London in January last year before getting dropped by Beterbiev in the eighth round. His corner threw in the towel to prevent him from sustaining any further punishment, despite being ahead on two of the judges’ scorecards at the time.
Yarde went as close as anyone to defeating Beterbiev, who has shown the ability to knockout his opponents at any stage of the fight.
According to Yarde, Bivol’s superb boxing ability will not be enough to keep the dangerous Beterbiev at bay for a full 12 rounds.
“I’m not being biased – I just can’t see how Bivol is going to beat Beterbiev after 12 rounds,” Yarde told The Ring. “That being said, they’ve both been hurt before – that’s why this fight is so interesting.
“They’re both Russian-schooled fighters – both technically very good. Bivol has a little bit more of a boxing style but is defensively effective and he’s tough. It’s a fantastic collision.”
Yarde said he never felt bothered by Beterbiev’s power until the moment he got clipped and sent to the canvas.
“Other than the shot that he put me on the canvas with, he didn’t really land any hard shots,” said Yarde, who will face Marko Nikolic 32-3 (12) at the Copper Box Arena in Hackney Wick, East London on Saturday night.
“He landed an uppercut as well. He got me in the corner and he threw a flurry and a hard uppercut – other than them two shots, it was like a normal fight, because we was trading, and when your adrenaline is going and you’re both getting the better of each other at different points… he seemed human, until the end.
“The difference between me and him was he showed his experience in some of the fight; he knew when to step off; when to take a little breather; all things like that. That’s all things I’m learning.”
Last weekend Joshua Buatsi 18-0 (13) turned back the challenge of Dan Azeez 20-1 (13) to establish himself at the number one contender to the light heavyweight crown.
After the 12-round unanimous points decision win, the 30-year-old Buatsi said he would welcome the opportunity for an all-British showdown against Yarde.
It’s a fight that Yarde would fancy.
“There’s been so many conversations [with my promoter Frank Warren about me fighting Buatsi next],” Yarde said.
“There’s even conversations regarding Chris Billam-Smith; Callum Smith. There’s so many options – Buatsi’s not the only option for me. It’s an option I want and have wanted for quite a while.
“There’s certain fights that make sense and certain fights that don’t, and the Buatsi fight makes sense.”