Sergey Kovalev v Anthony Yarde Preview6 min read
Anthony Yarde heads to Eastern Europe on Saturday night as he challenges Sergey Kovalev for a world title in Russia. The London boxer is the outsider to topple the champion and win the WBO light-heavyweight title in Chelyabinsk.
Yarde on world title mission
Yarde boasts an unbeaten record after winning all of his 19 professional bouts. The 28-year-old is an explosive boxer and deserves his opportunity to step up and challenge for the world title.
His fierce power has proved too much for his opponents, with the fighter winning inside the distance in all bar one of his contests.
Yarde’s second fight in 2015, against Stanislavs Makarenko went to the scorecards after four rounds but no-one else has been able to handle his punch power.
His first-round stoppage of Richard Baranyi at the Copper Box Arena in 2017 earned the WBO European title.
Yarde quickly added the Inter-Continental title after Norbert Nemesapati retired at the end of the third round.
The Hackney boxer’s last fight came in March with a fifth-round knockout win against American veteran Travis Reeves at the Royal Albert Hall.
Now Anthony Yarde makes a massive step up in class to face Kovalev and there is no doubt he will have to produce a special performance in Russia if he is to leave with the world title.
Kovalev showing signs of weakness
Kovalev comes in as the home favourite and the world champion, based in Florida, has competed at the highest level over the last decade.
‘Krusher’ Kovalev has a record of 33 wins from his 37 bouts, 28 coming inside the distance, with three defeats and one draw.
The destructive Russian won the world light-heavyweight title after overwhelming Nathan Cleverly in 2013. Kovalev knocked the Welshman down in the third round before finishing the Cardiff fight in the next round.
Kovalev produced a dominant performance in Atlantic City to take a unanimous decision against legendary boxer Bernard Hopkins in 2014.
But he suffered the first defeat of his career after a controversial loss in Las Vegas to Andre Ward three years ago. Kovalev knocked the American down in the second round, but the judges ruled against him to give a tight unanimous decision to Ward which provoked fierce debate.
There was no question of doubt in the 2017 rematch though, with a series of body shots ending the fight in the eighth round as Kovalev was stopped for the first time.
Kovalev suffered a shock defeat last year after Eleider Alvarez knocked him down three times to win in the seventh round of their Atlantic City fight.
The 36-year-old avenged the defeat to the Colombian in their February rematch, after a unanimous decision in Texas, to reclaim the world light-heavyweight title.
However there have been signs, through his defeats in the last three years, Kovalev is past his best and Yarde will attempt to expose this on Saturday.
Kovalev v Yarde: The verdict
Kovalev is the 8/15 favourite for victory in Russia although there are reasons to side with the British challenger.
Anthony Yarde, a 6/4 chance, is making a huge jump up in class but this hugely talented boxer has the potential to shock his opponent.
Kovalev has lost three of his last six fights and his defeat to Alvarez underlined his time at the top could be coming to an end.
Yarde may lack experience at the highest level but he is eight years younger and this could prove telling against his ageing opponent.
The hungry challenger has the firepower to win in Russia and knows he will almost certainly need to avoid the scorecards. It is just 3/10 the fight goes the distance and knockout specialist Yard has the firepower to prevail.
Yarde may just have timed this fight to perfection and the hard-hitting puncher looks worth backing at 9/4 to stop Kovalev and become world champion on Saturday night.
Tip: Yarde to win by KO, TKO or disqualification