In the run-up to the fight for the light heavyweight boxing world titles, there was little to no debate about who was the favorite.
Moreover, there were no special prerequisites for Anthony Yarde to be able to provide worthy competition to Artur Beterbiev, who won all 18 fights in his career by knockout and was in phenomenal shape.
And this despite the fact that eight days ago he celebrated his 38th birthday.
The advantage of the “home site”, the seven-year age difference, and the excellent “physics” that he demonstrated during the weigh-in could hardly make Yard believe in the success.
Even Beterbiev himself was surprised by the power of the Briton and compared him to a bodybuilder.
But it was extremely reckless to believe that a pumped-up torso and biceps would be a decisive factor in the battle with such an incredible athlete as Arthur.
On the contrary, in the long run, this could play a cruel joke on him, because carrying such muscle mass for 12 rounds is an extremely difficult task.
Yes, Yard's progress in terms of physical form was obvious.
However, it was much more interesting to find out how much he added in boxing skills over the past three and a half years.
It was then that he fought for the world champion trophy for the first time and lost by knockout to Sergey Kovalev, and subsequently did not intersect with extra-class athletes.
Surely in the UK they would gladly rank Lyndon Arthur in this category, but it is extremely difficult to consider a top fighter with such a track record.
Throughout his career, he never left his native England, and more than half of his counterparts at the time of the meeting had a negative record.
Nevertheless, Yard managed to surprise not only experts and bookmakers, but also Beterbiev himself.
He immediately rushed forward, but ran into the powerful defense of the British, who regularly responded with sharp attacks.
Yes, his blows did not always reach the target, but they created the illusion of activity, which is very much appreciated by the judges.
Anthony used a lot of tricks, used a jab and tried to accompany him with sweeping hooks and uppercuts to the head, some of which still bothered Arthur.
Beterbiev's plan was simple and clear.
As in his previous fights, he put pressure on the enemy and tried to lock him in the corners, after which he brought down a hail of blows - from signature deuces and hooks to uppercuts, especially effective against a tightly closed opponent.
However, this worked with varying degrees of success.
Although not always graceful, Yard moved a lot and tried not to stay at a disadvantage for a long time, while constantly throwing his hands in the direction of the champion.
In this vein, the battle continued until the end of the fourth round, when Beterbiev faced the first serious difficulties.
Suddenly, Yard began to catch up with him more often in exchanges, and it was not possible to establish control over the center of the ring.
Yes, the Russian still dangerously "exploded" and at times forced the Briton to go into a dead defense, but it was not possible to finish him off.
It seemed that at the beginning of the round he would finally be knocked down, but Anthony not only survived, but gradually seized the initiative.
To the delight of the Wembley gathered in the arena, he himself began to act as the first number and force Arthur to retreat.
And by the fifth round, it seemed that Beterbiev had lost control of the fight.
Unlike Marcus Brown and Joe Smith Jr., Yarde didn't let him get a foothold in the center of the ring or corner him regularly.
Yes, the Briton was breathing heavily, and a cut appeared under his right eye, but he continued to stubbornly shove his opponent and increasingly took over in exchanges.
The Russian could not find the distance, missed too much, and his movements spoke of the huge damage received.
Sometimes he reminded himself, slipped out of Anthony's clutches and again planted the most powerful combinations, but those were only episodes.
May be very bright.
The challenger looked more confident and continued to score points.
In the end, after the sixth stint, the independent British referee favored Yarde by a marginal margin.
There was a sensation in the air, and the prospect of the first defeat loomed before Beterbiev.
He experienced one of the most difficult fights in his career, comparable only to the duel with Alexander Gvozdyk.
Then he was also inferior on the cards, but managed to put the squeeze on the Ukrainian and win the WBC title.
The seventh round turned out to be no less discouraging for the fans of the Russian, and even before it began, a cut appeared on his left eyelid.
And on the eve of the eighth, there were no prerequisites for a sudden comeback.
But Beterbiev once again demonstrated why he is one of the most feared punchers of our time.
A minute and a half before the end of the segment, he met with Yard in the center of the ring and sent a crushing right straight right to the jaw, accompanying him with an overhand.
The challenger collapsed onto the canvas and with great difficulty got up at the count of nine.
By the look of Yard, it was clear that he was not ready to continue fighting.
However, the referee still had mercy and gave him the opportunity to return to the fight.
True, in vain.
After a couple of seconds, he missed a couple more crushing blows, after which the cornermen intervened, demanding to stop the beating.
Beterbiev got out of an extremely difficult situation and won a major victory.
He not only extended his unbeaten streak to 19 fights, but also defended three light heavyweight titles for the first time.
In an interview, he paid tribute to Yard, and then admitted that next time he would like to fight for the title of absolute world champion.
Thus, Artur reiterated his desire to measure his strength with compatriot Dmitry Bivol.