ANTHONY YARDE secured his January 28 world title shot at Artur Beterbiev with a warm-up comeback KO inside three rounds.
The 31-year-old light-heavyweight ace has lured Russia’s WBC, IBF and WBO boss over to Wembley Arena for the start of 2023 and just had to dispatch Stefani Koykov on Saturday night to rubber stamp it.
The Beast from the East had been out of the ring 350 days since his rematch win over Lyndon Arthur.
But he only needed eight minutes to wipe out the overmatched 30-year-old Bulgarian in Telford and tee up his second world title bid.
Ahead of facing the terrifying 18-0 Soviet KO artist, Yarde said: “Stylistically, me against Beterbiev is a blockbuster fight.
“Someone is getting knocked out.
“We are two men with good knockout ratios, we can both punch.
“He has been dropped before and he has been in deep water before, he is only human.
“The belts, the history, the legacy, that is what I am in the game for.”
Koykov was a live opponent and fancied his longshot chances, chasing Yarde down from the first bell and landing a left hook.
But the visitor was cracked a couple of times by the Brit’s golden gloves, stunned by one short and sharp uppercut that rocked back his shaved head.
A Yarde right hook to Koykov’s left flank was spiteful as well but did not drop the Germany-based visitor.
Arsenal fan Yarde fired cannons into Koykov’s body in the second but the under-fire underdog did well to stay on his feet.
Yarde refused to rush his shift, after almost a year out, and when the stoppage came it was precise.
Koykov’s body was peppered with vicious hooks and then the Englishman went up stairs with a slashing uppercut and folded his man for the count.
Yarde added: “That wasn’t flawless but no performance ever is.
“But I have so much confidence going into my next fight.
“When I beat him I want his spot on the pound-for-pound list.
“I want people to ask ‘how did he do it?’
“He had over 200 amateur fights, I had 12. It will be some story.”
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