On Saturday the 24th, Sergey Kovalev will defend his WBO light heavyweight title against Anthony Yarde at the Traktor Sport Palace in Chelyabinsk, Russia. The fight can be watched live on BT Sport in the UK and on ESPN+ in the USA.
Tale of the Tape – Kovalev vs. Yarde
|Sergey Kovalev||Anthony Yarde|
|Record||33-3-1 (28 KOs)||18-0-0 (17 KOs)|
|Nickname||“Krusher”||“The Beast from the East”|
Fight Breakdown – Kovalev vs. Yarde
Sergey Kovalev is a three-time light heavyweight champion, having won his first world title back in 2013 when he stopped Nathan Cleverly in four rounds. The “Krusher” worked his way up through the ranks predominantly fighting in America, eventually becoming one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world before suffering a couple of controversial defeats to future Hall-of-Famer Andre Ward in 2016 and 2017. Since the Ward losses, Kovalev is 3-1 and looking to reach the top of the sport one more time. With a Canelo Alvarez megafight on the horizon, this is a must-win fight for the Russian champ.
Anthony Yarde is an undefeated power-punching prospect who turned down step-aside money (from Canelo Alvarez and his people) to jump into the first title fight of his career. The London native started boxing at the late age of 19 and had a brief amateur career before turning professional just a few years ago. Despite not having faced a relevant name to date, the former football (soccer) player is as confident as anyone in his abilities.
Yarde loves to fight from a sort-of “Philly shell” type of defense (with his right hand up and left hand low), and is a natural counter-puncher. He has a well-rounded punch arsenal and does like to go to the body, something that will be important in this fight. Aside from his lack of experience against top-level competition, I believe Yarde’s biggest weakness in this fight will be his inability to fight at an elite level (at least from what I have seen) going forward.
Kovalev’s first fight with trainer Buddy McGirt resulted in a dominant unanimous decision win over the previously undefeated Eleider Alvarez back in February, whom Kovalev lost his title to via knockout six months prior. In that fight, Kovalev went back to the basics and showed boxing skills that, along with his crushing (Krushing?) power, make him a dangerous opponent for anyone at 175 pounds. He has shown conditioning issues in the past, which could be factor if the fight goes on past the sixth or seventh round.
For the challenger Yarde, he is going to have to be patient and try to catch Kovalev on the way in with not just a single punch, but combinations. If Yarde can get the jump on the champ before he settles into a groove, he can end the fight early. For Kovalev, he needs to use his jab frequently and be patient, as Yarde excels when his opponents come at him recklessly.
Prediction – Kovalev vs. Yarde
I predict a unanimous victory for Sergey Kovalev. This is a really difficult fight to predict, but I have to favor the more experienced Kovalev, even if he is a bit over the hill. If Kovalev is in shape and sticks to his gameplan, he should be able to earn the decision in his home country, even if the fight is close.
Yarde has what it takes to win this fight, by knockout even, but he is going to have to settle in quickly and fight his fight. For as much punching power as the young challenger has, the veteran champion he will be fighting hits just as hard, and nobody Yarde has faced is even remotely comparable to Kovalev in terms of talent.
Who wins this anticipated matchup in Russia? Does the old dog retain his title, or will the young hungry up-and-comer go from prospect straight to champion. Comment below with your prediction for Kovalev vs. Yarde.