Anthony Yarde returns on Saturday night as he takes on the unknown Marko Nikolic. It is the Londoners second fight since running unified light heavyweight king Artur Beterbiev close in a January 2023 thriller. Yarde was stopped in the eighth round of that one and has been matched carefully since.
In many ways, it is a shame Yarde hasn’t properly capitalised on that performance. While he was halted by Beterbiev, he did more to hurt the champion than most. Their see-saw meeting was one of 2023’s most satisfying contests and certainly the sort of thing Yarde could have used to secure big fights.
He has failed to do that, though. A September fight with soft-touch Jorge Silva was forgivable. A two-round knockout to restore Yarde’s confidence after the Beterbiev war. But Nikolic is an opponent in the same mould. An unnecessary sideways move for a fighter that deserves a big occasion.
Yarde will win and he will do so in spectacular fashion I’m sure. Sergei Gorokhov knocked Nikolic out in ten rounds and he is a name you will never see on these pages again unless dragged in as cannon fodder for a rising British prospect. The more noteworthy Ivan Zucco took just two rounds to blast Nikolic out, but you’d back Yarde to have an easy night if he fought the Italian any time soon.
Every underdog has a puncher’s chance, of course. But Nikolic is no puncher. Of his 32 wins, each gained at a low level with only one coming in a fight scheduled for more than eight rounds, just 12 have ended by knockout. Make no mistake, if Nikolic were to land a fight-winning punch on Yarde, we could wrap up 2024’s Upset of the Year ballot on Saturday night.
This is going to be swift. Yarde might suffer from his elevated reputation, with the Serbian coming to survive in a way he didn’t against the lesser-regarded Zucco. That’s why my pick here is for Yarde to take a round longer than the Italian did to get the job done.
I’m going for Yarde by third-round knockout which is priced up at 7/2. I’m expecting a range-finding first round before the artillery comes out in the second. I’m backing Nikolic to be just evasive enough to hear the bell in that session, before succumbing in the next. In the absence of a big name to add to his ledger, Yarde needs to make a statement. I believe he will do exactly that.
You can find all our latest boxing tips and analysis at our Betfred Insights Boxing page