WHEN it comes to rising to a challenge you’ve just got to hand it to Southern Area light-heavyweight champion Chris Hobbs. In times when a champion can be forgiven for making a first defence against untroubling opposition – and is even tacitly expected to do so – the serving soldier from Southampton has instead chosen to take on the feared, big-punching Anthony Yarde, the justifiably hyped Londoner who has unceremoniously stopped nine of his ten opponents since turning pro in May 2015. The two collide on the undercard of Gervonta Davis v Liam Walsh at the Copper Box Arena on May 20. With Yarde the overwhelming favourite there are many who give little for Hobb’s chances. Yet there is plenty in the ice-cold resolution of the champion to suggest this one may not go quite according to the script. A win for Hobbs will see him propelled towards the British title and silence doubters, while for Yarde a first professional title would see him ordained as one of the best prospects in British boxing. The stakes are high indeed, and graciously both fighters took time out from their last days of training to talk to Boxing News.
Refreshingly, neither boxer has any time for insults or trash-talk instead choosing to let their actions between the ropes speak for themselves. The intense but articulate Hobbs (6-1-1) points to his championship winning fight against Jordan Joseph in March as sufficient evidence of his ability to overturn the odds, while Yarde can barely leave a ring without first having to step over the prostrate figure of an opponent. With both boxers brimming with confidence, Hobbs explains his decision to take on such a dangerous opponent:
“The best fighting the best, that’s the way it should be, not devaluing belts. I’m not one for fighting journeymen constantly, I’d rather have real fights that mean something. You’re not really achieving anything otherwise. I really wanted a decent fight in my first defence and Yarde was the highest ranked. I’ve made a point of saying I wouldn’t take on someone I knew I could beat easily and while I could have got myself an easy win I’m not about that. To my mind once you become a champion you should never have an easy fight, you should be looking either for the next championship which is harder, or preparing for a challenger who’s training as hard as you were when you wanted to be the champion. You should always be stepping it up so each opponent is the best so far.