Artur Beterbiev once again showed his class to retain his WBC, IBF, WBO light and heavyweight belts thanks to a eighth round knockout victory on Anthony Yarde.
It was a high-intensity, big-shot, back-and-forth finish for a map that certainly had its ups and downs.
From a 14-second knockout to a journeyman who has lost 97 of his 105 fights, there was something for everyone at the OVO Arena at Wembley.
Competitor of the fight of the year?
As expected, the main event was filled with fireworks.
Yarde came out strong, landing firmly and often with a counter left in the early rounds. However, Beterbiev’s experience and class eventually came to the fore as he settled into his groove.
Beterbiev worked both body and header before Yarde’s corner came in after being floored with a powerful right.
It may only be January, but that hasn’t stopped some from suggesting the thrilling contest is an early contender for the fight of the year.
Beterbiev’s record increases to 19-0, with all those wins by knockout, but Yarde was a more than capable opponent with two of the judges leaning in his favor before the stoppage.
Either way, it was a main event with twists and turns as the pair put it all on the line.
What future for Beterbiev?
Talk immediately turned to Beterbiev’s next opponent following his latest victory and it looks like there are several options.
Mixed evening for the Itauma brothers
Earlier on the card, brothers Karol and Moses Itauma both stepped into the ring, but their fights ended in starkly contrasting circumstances.
Karol suffered a fifth-round knockout loss to Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna for the WBC International light-heavyweight belt.
But Moses, who made his professional debut just weeks after turning 18, announced himself to the world with a stunning 14-second knockout.
Sharp by name, not by nature
It’s fair to say there was a mixed reaction to journeyman Darryl Sharp, whose record is now 7-97-1, on the card against prospect Tommy Fletcher, who moves to 4-0 after a points victory.
Sharp fought 13 times last year, winning twice, but he was dispatched in six rounds in his first contest of 2023 and his late appearance on the card has divided opinion.
YouTube showdown delays main event
And finally… in scenes that wouldn’t be out of place in WWE, American boxer-turned-YouTuber Jake Paul and British fighter Tommy Fury squared off in the ring before the main event.
The duo is is scheduled to fight in Saudi Arabia on February 26. It was a weird interlude to the main event, and who knows what Yarde and Beterbiev thought they had to wait in the wings while Fury and Paul yelled at each other.