Yarde stops Nikolic to remain on collision course with Buatsi

Anthony Yarde remains on course for a summer showdown with Joshua Buatsi after stopping Marko Nikolic in three rounds at the Copper Box Arena in London.

The 32 year old had spoken in the build-up to Saturday’s fight – responding to Buatsi’s declaration in the aftermath of last week’s victory over Dan Azeez that he wants to fight him next – of also wanting his leading domestic rival, and impressed against an overmatched opponent.

There have been occasions in Yarde’s career when against inferior opposition he has risked looking sluggish and reliant on his power. Against Nikolic, 34, he looked admirably sharp and mobile – demonstrating not only that he has improved in the year since his defeat by Artur Beterbiev, but perhaps that he typically struggles to make light heavyweight, having weighed in on this occasion at 177.7lbs. 

The talented Yarde has previously only appeared to have been held back by a lack of amateur experience, but as against Beterbiev he again showed improving feet, composure and combinations; the right hook he landed to the body before ducking a left at the conclusion of the opening round particularly impressed.

He hurt Nikolic again in the second with a right hand the Serbian appeared too willing to go down from, and after Nikolic swung and fell short with a wild right hand, he dropped him again with a left to the body he looked unlikely to recover from until he returned to his feet at nine.

The end came one minute and 15 seconds into the third, when after a right to the body Nikolic again went down, made it back to his feet in eight, and was then rescued from further punishment by the referee Lee Every.