By: William Holmes
On Saturday night in Chelyabink, Russia Sergey Kovalev, the WBO Light Heavyweight Champion, will defend his title against Anthony Yarde, in Kovalev’s hometown.
Kovalev will be fighting for the first time in Russia since his win over Isaac Chilemba in July of 2016, but will have the full support of the crowd in attendance. Kovalev currently has pending charges for an assault charge in the United States, so fighting in Russia will help take his mind off of that.
The fight card will feature several Russian prospects. Other notable fights on the card include a cruiserweight bout between Ilunga Makabu and Aleksei Papin, a heavyweight fight between Evgeny Romanov and Dario German Balmaceda, and a welterweight bout between Eduard Skavynskyi and Idd Pialari.
Photo Credit: Main Events
This fight card will be streamed live on ESPN+ and promoted by Main Events.
The following is a preview of the light heavyweight title fight.
Sergey Kovalev (33-3-1) vs. Anthony Yarde (18-0); WBO Light Heavyweight Title
Sergey Kovalev is coming closer to, or is at the end of his prime. He’s currently thirty six years old and has already suffered two stoppage losses.
He’s facing an opponent that is ten years his younger and has never been defeated.
But Kovalev has shown that he still has some gas in his tank and was able to defeat Eleider Alvarez and reclaim his title after switching trainers and recommitting to the sport of boxing.
Both Kovalev and Yarde are known for their power, Kovalev has twenty eight stoppage victories while Yarde has seventeen stoppage victories. The only fight that Yarde has had that went the distance was his second professional fight.
Both boxers stand at 6’0”. Kovalev has been fairly active, as he has already fought once in 2019 and fought twice in both 2018 and in 2017. Yarde has been very active. He fought once in 2019, three times in 2018, and five times in 2017.
Kovalev’s three losses were to Andre Ward twice, and Eleider Alvarez. His first loss to Ward was disputed, but his other losses were not. He has defeated the likes of Alvarez, Igor Mikhalkin, Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal, Nadjib Mohammedi, Bernard Hopkins, Ismayl Sillah, Nathan Cleverly, and Gabriel Campillo.
Yarde has never been defeated and does not have the professional resume of Kovalev. He has defeated the likes of Travis Reeves, Walter Sequeira, Dariusz Sek, Tony Averlant, and Nikola Sjekloca.
Kovalev had the better amateur career of the two. Kovalev has previously captured the gold medal in the Russian National Championships, while Yarde didn’t start boxing until he was nineteen years old and briefly competed as an amateur.
Yarde is largely untested and is facing a boxer who has been in the ring with some of the best the light heavyweight division has had to offer in the 21st century. Add that on top of the fact they are fighting in Kovalev’s home town, the odds are rightly stacked against a Yarde victory on Saturday night.
There appears to be several lucrative options on the table for Kovalev is he’s able to win on Saturday, including possible bouts against Mexican light heavyweight Gilberto Ramirez or Mexican middleweight Canelo Alvarez.
It’s unlikely that a professional with the experience of Kovalev will look past Yarde towards other more lucrative fights.