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Anthony Yarde’s Time is Coming
By: Hans Themistode
28 year old Anthony Yarde isn’t well known. The very few that do, have little appreciation for his skill. His heart? He doesn’t have any of that either. In short, he is a man that looks as though he should be a body builder instead of a boxer.
Going into his contest against WBO Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, Yarde was viewed as nothing more than a tune up fight. The entire boxing world knew what would happen. Yarde would get brutally stopped in the first or second round and send us all to a Sergey Kovalev vs Canelo Alvarez matchup.
Who could blame those that had this notion? Yarde had just 18 pro bouts under his belt before he fought Kovalev. He also fought absolutely no one of note. Actually, not a single fighter he fought was in the top 15 of any sanctioning body.
Having such few fights and challenging for a world title isn’t the most absurd thing in the world. Pound for pound star Vasyl Lomachenko fought for a world title in just his second pro fight. It took Oleksandr Usyk only 10 contest before he got his crack at a title.
Still, for Yarde his circumstances were completely different. Lomachenko is considered the best amateur of all-time. Winning two gold medals and possessing an amateur record of 396-1. Absurd to say the least.
Usyk competed in 350 amateur contest, winning 335 of them. Along the way he won numerous amateur titles. In short, both of these men were so accomplished in the amateur ranks that a slow pace in the pro’s were not needed.
Yarde’s experience before turning pro pale’s in comparison as he had just 12 amateur contest. It looked as though Yarde was biting off more than he could chew. As the contest took place however, he proved his naysayers wrong.
You’ve seen it by now. Kovalev landing a left hand jab which drops Yarde in the 11th round. A shot he could not recover from. What preceded that shot however was eye opening. Yarde was beating the long time champion to the punch in the early rounds. Showing that he had the speed advantage and the defensive ability to stay out of the way of Kovalev’s attacks.
Although he had success early on, Kovalev found his mark and began to land big shots on Yarde. At this point it’s easy for an unproven contender, fighting in the hometown of the champion to simply pack it in and accept his defeat. That doesn’t apply to Yarde.
Trailing on the scorecards going into the eighth round, Yarde through everything he had at Kovalev. It almost worked. He landed shot after shot which left Kovalev staggering around the ring. If Yarde simply had more time in the round he could have possibly done it.
The rest of the fight saw Yarde still give it his all, but he was completely worn out. Still he did not quit. Instead, he went out on his shield.
Losses are devastating in the sport of boxing. It can send a fighter down the rankings and leave a sour taste in the mouths of fans who witness the defeat.
For Yarde, his stock won’t plummet with this defeat, instead it will soar. At just 28 years of age and only 19 pro contest to go along with 12 as an amateur, Yarde has shown that he can compete with the elite in the division. Yarde said all the right things following his defeat.
“I’m going to go back to the drawing board and work on some technical things,” said Yarde during his post fight interview. “I’m going to work even harder.”
Kovalev, who isn’t known for complimenting his opposition, heaped immense praise on Yarde.
“He has a great a future, he is very good. Believe me he will be a champion, 100 percent.”
The Light Heavyweight division has officially been put on notice. Anthony Yarde may have came up short in his bid to become a world champion but, all signs point to him coming back stronger and better than ever.
Kovalev Stops Yarde in the 11th in Russia
By: William Holmes
Sergey Kovalev (33-3-1) defended his WBO Light Heavyweight Title against Anthony Yarde (18-0) in his hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia on ESPN+.
Top Rank Promotions has teamed up with Main Event Promotions to televise this card on ESPN+. The undercard featured a thrilling majority decision win by Illunga Makabu over the very game Aleksei Papin.
Fight fans were expecting a knockout in this fight, as a young challenger that had stopped every opponent but one and was facing a champion already known for his devastating power. This event was sold out with an announced attendance of 7,500.
Yarde entered the ring first to a muted pop, while Kovalev entered second and was warmly greeted by the crowd. Kovalev had Buddy McGirt in his corner.
The openin round was a little slow, but both boxers appeared to be in good shape and were gauging their distance with jabs and check left hooks. Yarde had some success with his counter left hooks, but neither had any notable offense.
Kovalev began to land his jabs at a higher rate in the second and third rounds, but didn’t have Yarde hurt at any point. Kovalev had a strong fourth round and was landing some power punches and began to wake up the crowd.
Kovalev’s jabs were snapping the head of Yarde in the fifth round, and had outlanded him 42 to 14 jabs by this point. Kovalev continued to walk down Yarde in the sixth round, who at one point spit out his mouthpiece as he was visibly tiring.
Yarde was able to land a few good shots in the sixth and seventh rounds, but he opened himself up to Kovalev’s more accurate counter punches whenever he opened up and took a risk. Yarde’s body work did appear to hurt Kovalev in the seventh round.
Yarde pressed forward in the eighth round and was landing to the body and head of Kovalev. Kovalev was warned by the referee to stop pushing with his elbow, and both boxers landed good punches during some fierce exchanges. However, Yarde appeared to be comfortable with handling the power of Kovalev and had him hurt bad with a hard right hand. Kovalev was back peddling for the remainder of the round and struggled to stay up, but was able to survive the round.
Kovalev was badly hurt in the eighth, but came back strong in the ninth round with accurate combinations in the middle of the ring that swung momentum back in his favor.
Kovalev pummeled Yarde from ring post to ring post in the tenth round and had Yarde covering up most of the time. Yarde likely needed a stoppage in the final two rounds to win the fight, and he went after Kovalev to try to get that win. But a vicious straight left jab from Kovalev sent Yarde crashing to the mat and unable to get up to his feet.
Sergey Kovalev wins by TKO at 2:04 of the eleventh round.
Don’t Count Out Anthony Yarde
By: Hans Themistode
The showdown between WBO Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev and three division champion Canelo Alvarez is sure to be a good one. That contest will take place sometime in either November or December in Las Vegas, Nevada of this year.
It’s a contest that is sure to be a fight of the year candidate.
A can’t miss fight.
An all action scrap.
These are the headlines that have flooded the internet over the past few weeks.
Everyone seems to have forgotten about Anthony Yarde (18-0, 17 Kos). The unbeaten British born fighter who Kovalev must defeat, in his hometown of Russia.
Yarde has been dismissed by many, if not all. It’s for good reason. Up to this point, Yarde has faced no one even remotely close to the level he will be facing on Saturday night. It will be a huge step up for Yarde. Standing across the ring from the WBO Light Heavyweight champion will be unlike no other challenge he has ever faced.
To the credit of Yarde, he has looked good in his 18 professional bouts. Some would even say great. However, going from bottom tier to the upper echelon of the division is not an ideal situation.
It isn’t just the fans and media alike that have given Yarde no chance in this contest, but so has his contemporaries.
Former pound for pound star and Sergey Kovalev conquerer Andre Ward, believes that Yarde possesses the skill but ultimately will fall in his quest to become a world champion.
“I see him stopping Yarde late,” said Ward. “Yarde hasn’t showed up until this point that he can handle a guy like Kovalev.”
Yarde has heard all of his naysayers and critics but his confidence has not waned in the slightest.
“I’m just focused on myself. Be the best I can be and get the knockout victory,” said Yarde.
The ability to stop his opponents has been well established throughout his career as he currently holds a 94 percent knockout ratio. Kovalev, in his three career losses, has been stopped in two of them. So what does this mean exactly?
Yarde has a blueprint in which he can follow in order to get the job done.
Still, even with his impressive physique and under rated boxing skills. Yarde isn’t expected to do much of anything.
Rumors of the contract between Kovalev and Canelo have already been signed. The only thing left is the dispatching of Yarde.
Britains, Yarde has a chance to upset the applecart. A win for him would flip the boxing world on its head, but no one wants that. Canelo vs Kovalev is a mouth watering matchup. One that everyone wants to see.
One final test for Kovalev remains. Yarde.
For those who have fantasized about Sergey Kovalev taking on Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez may never see that contest come to fruition.
Anthony Yarde has more than enough skill to put an end to that dream, once and for all.
Fight Preview: Kovalev vs. Yarde
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.
Kovalev vs. Yarde : Experience vs. Youth or Reality vs. Fantasy
By: Darren Paradise
In what could be the most intriguing match-up of 2019, Saturday night will see Sergey Kovalev defend his WBO light heavyweight title against Briton Anthony Yarde in his home town of Chelyabinsk, Russia. With the champion in the twilight of his career and the challenger being somewhat of an unknown quantity, opinions are divided on the outcome of this one.
It is the general consensus that Kovalev is now a champion on the slide. He is certainly the most established of the light heavyweight champions but Kovalev is no longer regarded as the most formidable, he is perhaps the weakest link of the current crop, even being handpicked as a potential future opponent for boxings premier attraction Saul “Canelo” Alvarez who is well known for feasting on an abundance of declining, lighter or overmatched opposition. With all this said, one should not forget that the light heavyweight division is stacked with talent and Kovalev did not earn his nickname of “Krusher” without good reason.
Photo Credit: Main Events Promotions
But what of the challenger?
Taking on a world champion in his home country has never been the easiest of tasks for any challenger but taking on a champion in deepest darkest Russia could be on a whole new level. Anthony Yarde appears unfazed. At 28-years old with 17 knockouts in a perfect 18-0 record it is unsurprising that Yarde feels that he has all the tools required to topple the Russian. With his model good looks, sculpted physique and undeniable charisma a dominant victory for Yarde may well see the arrival of boxings newest poster boy. Not too dissimilar to that of countryman Anthony Joshua, Yarde brings the type of crossover appeal required to transcend the sport and achieve superstar status. He will certainly be bringing youth and power into the ring with him and if the rumoured step aside money offered to him from team Alvarez is true it suggests that he also brings supreme confidence. It is a deeper look in to where that confidence arises from that begs the question as to whether or not he is up to the task. Firstly we have the coveted undefeated record and more than impressive knockout ratio. Of course he looks sublime in dismantling below par opposition, but in truth, the mettle of the man has never been tested. How will he react under pressure? Can he remain calm? Can he handle Kovalev’s power? Can he find an answer to the “Krusher’s” jab? Then we have the highly unorthodox methods of his trainer and mentor Tunde Ajayi where training involves an abundance of positivity but no sparring. How can one prepare for the biggest fight of his life without sparring? It is not only essential for the tactics and strategy of a fight, but also prepares the body for the traumas of battle. If the body is not prepared for battle, positivity is likely to disintegrate at an alarming rate. But who am I? If Yarde were to pull this one off Ajayi could forever be known as the pioneer of new age boxing training and psychology.
Victory for Anthony Yarde will certainly change the landscape of the 175lb division. Should Yarde defeat Kovalev in devastating fashion, any foray into light heavyweight for “Canelo” will certainly be put on the back burner but Yarde will not be in short supply of unification and domestic blockbusters down the road.
Sergey himself I am sure is extremely confident of an easy nights work, disregarding Yarde as a potential banana skin for a megabucks showdown with “Canelo” Alvarez but at 36 years of age and plenty of hard nights behind him is he overestimating how much is left in the tank?
This fight poses many a question but I have the feeling all will be both asked and answered within the first three minutes of the opening bell.
Gilberto Ramirez Set for Kovalev vs. Yarde Winner
By: Shane Willoughby
The former WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez will become the mandatory of the winner of Kovalev vs Yarde.
As a WBO champion, once you move to a different weight division, it is a rule for you to become mandatory for the WBO champion in that division. This is something we have seen quite a few times this year when both Saunders and Usyk became a mandatory challenger in their division.
What does this mean for both Yarde and Kovalev? The winner of Saturday’s bout is set to face, arguably a tougher opponent than the one in front of them now.
Gilberto Ramirez is 40-0 and made 6 successful defences of his WBO super middleweight title before moving up to light heavyweight and then stopping Veteran Tommy Karpency.
For Kovalev, the Mexican fighter could be a massive hindrance to his plans, as the Russian is looking to Face cash cow Canelo at the end of the year, but may have to face Ramirez before. Which could be a much harder task than Yarde who is inexperienced and untested.
For the Brit to get past Kovalev will be a historic achievement, especially when you consider the fact that he is travelling to the champions home town. However, many say that the ‘Krusher’ is on the slide and past his best.
So even if Yarde pulls off the miraculous task and beats Kovalev, many will argue that he has a much tougher task ahead of him once Ramirez becomes mandatory.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Roy Jones, Yarde, Kovalev, Beterbiev, Gvozdyk, Imam, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of August 13th to August 20th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Unbeaten Champions Beterbiev and Gvozdyk Set to Unify Titles October 18th in Philadelphia
Two very bad men are set for an old-fashioned Philadelphia throwdown.
WBC light heavyweight world champion Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk and IBF light heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev will fight in a highly anticipated title unification bout Friday, Oct. 18 at the Liacouras Center.
Beterbiev and Gvozdyk enter this can’t-miss clash with a combined record of 31-0 with 28 knockouts.
Gvozdyk-Beterbiev will headline a special edition of Top Rank on ESPN beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
The undercard will stream live on ESPN+ — the industry-leading sports streaming service — beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Peltz Boxing, tickets priced at $150, $90, $75 and $50 (not including applicable fees) go on sale Friday, Aug. 23 at 12 p.m. ET and can be purchased at the Liacouras Center Box Office, www.liacourascenter.com or charge by phone at 800-298-4200.
“This could very well be the fight of the year,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “These are two evenly matched, undefeated light heavyweight champions. There is nothing better in the sport of boxing.”
“My first goal was to win a light heavyweight world title. Now, I want to unify the belts, and that mission starts with Artur Beterbiev,” Gvozdyk said. “This is going to be a spectacular fight, one that the fans will enjoy. The fans asked for this fight, and we will deliver. One thing I know is that I will be the unified champion. I have the best trainer, Teddy Atlas, in my corner. This is our third fight together, and under his guidance, I will continue to get better.”
“I wish to thank Top Rank and my opponent, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, for making this unification bout possible and giving the fans around the world what they want,” Beterbiev said. “This will be a great fight between the two champions who aspire to become the undisputed light heavyweight world champion. I am looking forward to stepping into the ring on October 18.”
Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs) will be making the second defense of the title he won from longtime champion Adonis Stevenson in a come-from-behind 11th-round KO last December in Quebec City, Canada. He followed up the Stevenson win with a dominant fifth-round TKO March 30 over Doudou Ngumbu in Philadelphia, where a large Ukrainian contingent showed up to cheer on their countryman. Gvozdyk captured a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, where he was teammates with current professional stablemate and pound-for-pound great Vasiliy Lomachenko. A five-year pro, Gvozdyk climbed the ranks with victories over established veterans like Isaac Chilemba, Yunieski Gonzalez and Nadjib Mohammedi.
Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs), a former Russian amateur star, has a come-forward, take-no-prisoners ring approach that has made him the only current world champion with a 100 percent KO ratio. He won the vacant IBF world title with a 12th-round TKO over Enrico Koelling, preserving his perfect KO record by stopping Koelling with 27 seconds left in the bout. His two title defenses have lasted a total of nine rounds, and most recently, he walked through longtime contender Radivoje “Hot Rod“ Kalajdzic in five rounds in the main event of the May 4 Top Rank on ESPN telecast.
Amir Imam Signs with Top Rank
Amir Imam, a former super lightweight world challenger known for his explosive knockouts, has signed a multi-year promotional agreement with Top Rank.
Imam (21-2, 18 KOs) has been out of the ring since March 17, 2018, the evening he challenged Jose Ramirez for the vacant WBC super lightweight world title. He lost via unanimous decision in a brutal toe-to-toe battle to Ramirez, who is currently the unified WBC/WBO 140-pound world champion.
Imam will campaign at either super lightweight or welterweight, and he recently enlisted the services of South Florida-based manager Peter Kahn. He is expected to make his long-awaited ring return later this year.
“I am grateful to have joined the best promotional company in boxing. I have learned a lot from my past fights and have made positive changes that will allow me to succeed as I move forward to my goal of becoming a world champion,” Imam said. “I’m eager to get back into the ring before the end of the year and showcase my skills as part of the Top Rank team. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for me.”
“Amir Imam is a naturally gifted fighter who can best be defined as potential unrealized to this point in his career,” Kahn said. “He has the physical and mental tools to be a world champion. He’s a perfect fit for Top Rank. Whether Amir continues to campaign at super lightweight or welterweight remains to be seen, but the fans will see a rejuvenated, well-prepared Amir who is on a mission to be a world champion.”
Imam, from Albany, New York, knocked out 12 out of his first 13 opponents in the paid ranks, and won an eight-round unanimous decision in 2014 over Yordenis Ugas, who is currently one of the welterweight division’s top contenders. He scored highlight-reel knockouts over Jason Robinson and Fidel Maldonado before being stopped in shocking fashion by Adrian Granados in 2015. Imam rebounded with three consecutive knockout wins before locking horns with Ramirez in a memorable clash at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Carlos Takam Signs with Star Boxing
Star Boxing is excited to officially announce the signing of distinguished heavyweight title contender CARLOS TAKAM (36-5-1 28KO’s) of France, by way of Douala, Cameroon. Standing at 6’3″, the heavy handed, Takam has taken on some of the best in the business, in the heavyweight division. Star Boxing revealed the signing last week on its social media platforms.
Takam was an amateur standout in Cameroon. In 2003, he competed in the All-African Games in Nigeria, finishing with a bronze medal. In 2004, Takam qualified for the Athens, Greece Summer Olympics by earning Gold at the AIBA African Olympic Qualifying tournament in Morocco. Later that year, representing his native country of Cameroon, Takam fought in the Summer Olympic games in Athens, Greece, making it to the sweet sixteen.
Turning pro in 2005, just one year after the Olympics, Takam was an immediate force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division. After securing a record of 23-1 with 18KO’s, Takam defeated GBENGA OLUOKUN (then 18-5 12KO’s) by TKO to earn his first professional title, becoming the WBO International African Heavyweight Champion. Since then, Takam has held multiple titles, including the WBC Silver World Championship, the IBF Intercontinental Championship, and the WBF World Championship.
From 2011 on, Takam fought a gruesome list of boxing’s best heavyweights which include, heavyweight world title challengers, FRANS BOTHA (then 48-6-3 29KO’S), MICHAEL GRANT (then 48-7 36KO’S), TONY THOMPSON (then 39-4 27KO’s), JOSEPH PARKER (Then 18-0 16KO’s), DERECK CHISORA (then 28-8 21KO’s) as well as former world champion, ALEXANDER POVETKIN (then 27-1 20KO’s). In 2017, Takam challenged ANTHONY JOSHUA (19-0 19KO’s) in the biggest, bout of his career, for the WBA, IBF and IBO World Heavyweight Titles.
In Takam’s last bout in December 2018, he defeated German prospect, SENAD GASHI (then 17-1 17KO’s) who was favored in the bout. Gashi was a 5x Saarland Champion, 2x Gold International Boxing champion, 2x Gold German Open champion, amongst many other accolades in the amateurs. The bout took place at the 02 Arena in London, ending in a seventh round TKO victory for Takam.
Takam said this about signing with Star Boxing, “I’m very happy to sign with Joe and Star Boxing. It’s almost one year now I’m free agent. I didn’t sign with any promoter. I have had several propositions on the table, but with Joe [DeGuardia], the way I see, I have good feeling that we can achieve my potential together. I have big ambition in boxing for these coming years. Because I was taking my time looking around before to make any decision. I am ready to do the job.”
Manager of Carlos Takam, DWIGHT YARDE, had this to say about the opportunities that are ahead for Team Takam with Star Boxing, “Exciting times in the heavyweight division! I have known Joe [DeGuardia] for some 20 years and truly believe he is the man to take Team Takam to the heavyweight title. With Carlos’ ability as a fighter, nothing can stop us now. Heavyweight division watch out – we are coming.”
Star Boxing CEO, JOE DEGUARDIA said this about the signing of Takam, “Carlos is a world class heavyweight who has faced some of the best in the division. Throughout boxing history, the heavyweight division has always cultivated the most buzz, and that buzz is back.” DeGuardia continued, “I think highly of Carlos. The hard-core boxing experts know how good he is, but now he will show the casual fans and will surprise many as to how good he can still be. We are really excited to bring some big things to the table for him, and are confident that a heavyweight championship of the world bout is in his future.”
Kovalev-Yarde Headlines Special Afternoon of Boxing on ESPN+
WBO light heavyweight champion and future Hall of Famer Sergey Kovalev will face off against his hard-hitting mandatory challenger, Anthony Yarde, in a highly anticipated showdown Saturday, Aug. 24 from Traktor Arena in Kovalev’s hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia.
Kovalev-Yarde will stream live and exclusively in the United States on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT. The stream will also showcase the co-feature bout between unbeaten cruiserweight contender Aleksei Papin (11-0, 10 KOs) and former world title challenger Ilunga Makabu (25-2, 24 KOs). Fans in the U.S. can sign up at www.ESPNplus.com or on the ESPN App.
“I am thrilled to fight for the first time in my hometown of Chelyabinsk,” Kovalev said. “It is a dream to defend my WBO title in front of all my friends and family back home. I am also thankful ESPN+ will show the fight to my fans in the U.S. Thank you to Igor Altushkin, Egis Klimas, Main Events and Top Rank for making this dream a reality, and thank you to Anthony Yarde for agreeing to fight in my home.”
“Sergey has done just about everything a professional fighter can do, other than fight in his own hometown,” said promoter Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. “One of the sport’s greatest road warriors, Sergey will finally get the chance to salute his legion of fans in Chelyabinsk, where he grew up. It will be an exciting, long overdue homecoming for Sergey. And I am so happy to confirm that Sergey’s many fans in the U.S. will be able to watch this great event only on ESPN+. I wish to thank Igor Altushkin, German Titov and everyone at RCC for making this all possible. I also wish to thank Bob Arum and Top Rank for their continued support.”
Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) is a veteran of 15 world title bouts and has won the light heavyweight world title on three occasions. A former unified champion, he revived his career in February by scoring a wide points win over Eleider Alvarez, the man who’d knocked him out less than six months prior. One of this generation’s most decorated champions, Kovalev holds victories over Jean Pascal, Nathan Cleverly and living legend Bernard Hopkins. In Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs), he faces a London native with a giant hand who is taking a giant step up in competition. Yarde has won his last 16 bouts by knockout, most recently stopping Travis Reeves in five rounds in a bout that streamed on ESPN+. This will be only his second pro bout outside of England.
Roy Jones Junior Boxing Announces Deal with Eldorado Group to Co-Promote Multiple Installments on UFC Fight Pass
Roy Jones Jr. (RJJ) Boxing Promotions has reached an exclusive agreement with Eldorado Group to co-promote multiple installments of “RJJ Boxing on UFC FIGHT PASS®,” commencing October 25 with Joey Gilbert Promotions in Reno, Nevada.
The Oct. 25th show in Reno will be streamed live and exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS, the world’s leading digital subscription service for combat sports, starting at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT, from a venue to be determined.
“Everyone has seen all the excitement the Eldorado Group has going on,” RJJ Boxing CEO and Co-Founder Keith Veltre said. “Signing a deal of this magnitude is sending a strong message to the public that Eldorado Group wants to deliver the best in combat sports to its customers. Adding Joey Gilbert as a co-promoter only adds to the growing excitement RJJ Boxing Promotions has in the store for the future. Joey is a massive asset to what we are doing. Roy and I are super happy that he’s part of the team.”
In addition to being a combat sports promoter, Gilbert is a criminal defense and personal injury lawyer in Reno, as well as a sports agent and motivational speaker. He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Nevada, where he was an outstanding amateur boxer, double majoring in English Literature and Political Science, and he went on to graduate from Thomas Jefferson Law School in San Diego.
Now retired as a boxer, Gilbert fought professionally from 2000-2010, compiling a 20-3 (15 KOs) record. He gained tremendous exposure participating in popular reality television series, The Contender, Season One.
“I am thrilled to bring professional boxing back to Reno,” CEO Joey Gilbert commented. “Reno has always been a fight town. I benefitted from this as both an amateur and professional fighter. I am beyond delighted to be involved in this endeavor with Roy Jones, Jr., who I have always held in such high regard, and looked up to as a fighter.
“I have been thoroughly impressed with the RJJ Boxing executive team and CEO Keith Veltre, who certainly produces one of the highest-quality and exciting boxing shows that I have ever seen. Together with UFC FIGHT PASS, we will absolutely impress and exceed expectations of all local fight fans, and The Row will be hosting this exciting opportunity. This will be one of many new fighting opportunities for our community to enjoy. I am excited that Eldorado Resorts International threw its proverbial hat in the ring to support this program. It’s safe to say that I can see this being the first fight series of many across numerous El Dorado International properties in the United States.”
The fight card will be announced at a future date.
Anthony Yarde: In Need of a Lion’s Performance
By: Oliver McManus
Bracing conditions await for the cool cat that prowls around Peacock Gym as Anthony Yarde steps out of the cage for the first time in his professional career; the light-heavyweight enters the lion’s den of Chelyabinsk to face, WBO champion, Sergey Kovalev. A daunting task from the outset and matters were further thrown into flux when Kovalev was touted to face Canelo and Yarde was made a hefty ‘step-aside’ offer.
Despite all those hypothetical complications the fight does now go ahead – having been unofficially announced and then cancelled back in June – following a protracted game of cat and mouse with a healthy side dish of boxing politics. On August 24th, then, the fight goes ahead and British fight fans finally get the opportunity to test the hype and hyperbole surrounding Anthony Yarde.
Frank Warren’s prized prospect has lived a privileged life since entering the professional ranks in 2015 with soft touches offered throughout his development. Of course that’s an understandable element within boxing and, despite the, often, shrugged and shrouded defense of the opponents, Yarde marauded his way past them with villainous intent. His bout with Chris Hobbs was an early indication of the spite that Yarde possess – Hobbs pasted for four rounds, dropped on six occasions.
Since that peak in 2017 – five fights and a, genuinely, impressive win over Nikola Sjekloca – that saw him first climb the world rankings there has been increasing disdain for the maneuvering of Tunde Ajayi’s charge. Repeatedly he has been pitted against underwhelming opposition that were sold as genuine challenges to his ‘unrivalled supremacy’ – the latter a tad bit of creative license. Dariusz Sek was a real lowlight with him heralded as more than acceptable on the grounds he would be the first southpaw of Anthony Yarde’s career.
Consistently juxtaposing his lack of experience – did you know Yarde only had 12 amateur contests – as a reason for not taking serious step-ups (Sullivan Barrera has been continually vocal in his desire to fight Yarde) whilst commandeering his WBO ranking to justify stepping past domestic level is an isolationist tactic. It is, admittedly, very clever as it has allowed Yarde to take no damage, in terms of in the ring, whilst constantly chipping his way closer to Krusher. ‘WBO Champion of the World’ has always been the stated aim and desire so, in that respect, he has been maneuvered perfectly but that stops on August 24th. From thereon in it isn’t a matter of what strings Warren can pull – it comes down to boxing ability.
The kid can box, let’s be honest, there can be no denying his explosivity and heavy handedness but it’s learning how and when to use that has often resulted in a lacklustre end product. Boxing is a bloodsport with an aversion to blood – no-one wants to see a fighter seriously injured – but the tippy-tappy style of Yarde as he patiently repeats pad-work round after round is hard to become infatuated with. We’ve seen before what can happen when the clinical spark kicks in and he looks to close a fight – there is no feasible counter to that relentless, bombarding aggression.
Now he’s chucked in with a livewire there is minimal margin for error and that patience and diligence will be tested to maximum resistance; should there be any momentary lapses in concentration then Kovalev can, and will, exploit them. If he’s even half as good as the incredible, charismatic, belief of Ajayi suggests then he’s on the right path but words have got to turn into actions sooner rather than later.
You have to afford him a reasonable degree of respect and admiration for flying out to Russia – to a venue closer to Beijing than Canning Town – in full knowledge that he is a heavy, heavy underdog. Far too often we see fights avoided or hampered by squabbles over the proposed location and Russia is, perhaps, the most politicized of venues; you only need to nod towards Lucas Browne for an example of alleged skullduggery on Russian soil. But Yarde is brushing that to one side and rightly considering it yet another factor that would make a victory for him all the more remarkable. When you add up all the common variables then logic suggests Kovalev retains his title. But boxing isn’t about logic or maths – otherwise Compubox would be the official scoring system and BoxRec our official ratings – it is always about the two fighters in the ring – both at its purest and in a human, macro sense of it.
Anthony Yarde has surrounded himself with like-minded people that are consumed in the belief that he is the real deal and, naturally, that rubs off on a performance. It seems to me that for his whole career he has been regarded as a tabby cat in lion’s clothing, feasting on vegetarian scraps, but he goes to Russia with a lamb-chop in his sight. It is feeding time and Anthony Yarde has a ravenous hunger for success.
Is Yarde Britain’s Salvation?
By: Shane Willoughby
In a year that has seen British boxing regress at a ridiculous rate, Anthony Yarde is one fight away from cementing his name in history.
Yarde is set to face the WBO Light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in Russia on the 24th August. After only 17 fights, the undefeated Brit has to go to the hometown of arguably the best fighter in the division.
Whilst many say Kovalev is past his best and he doesn’t possess the same threats he did 5 years ago, he is coming off probably his best performance when he comfortably beat Eleider Alvarez.
The Light heavyweight division hasn’t been the most successful for British fighters in recent years. Fighters such as Callum Johnson, Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverley have all lost for World Titles.
However, there is a great deal of irony in this situation. Nathan Cleverley has won a World Title before; the same World Title that Yarde is fighting for now. But Cleverley lost his WBO title, against the same person Yarde is going to fight now.
However, there have been a few Brits who have had success travelling to their opponents back yard. No pun intended. Billy Joe Saunders, Tyson Fury and David Haye have all gone on the road and returned with World Titles.
However, when you consider the fact that Yarde has only been a professional for 4 years and that he hasn’t fought anyone in the top 10 and that he had only 12 amateur fights and that he has never fought outside of the UK, this should go down as the greatest accomplishment any British fight has achieved.
ESPN+ Boxing Results: Yarde Remain Patient, Dubois, Williams and Jenkins Impress in London
Anthony Yarde headlined the first Queensbury Promotions card of 2019 and secured a “xxx” victory over Travis Reeves to round of a thrilling night at the Royal Albert Hall. Topping the card in his 18th professional fight, Yarde has promised to gatecrash the world scene throughout the calendar year. The quality of his opponents will need to take a significant step up if that is to be the case but Yarde got the job done without ever looking troubled.
Defending his WBO Inter-Continental for the fifth time and with the promise of being mandated to face Sergey Kovalev, there was plenty on the line for Hackney’s very own. The final fight of a thoroughly entertaining card, Yarde was the man trusted to end the night on a high but he didn’t exactly start off in explosive fashion.
Photo Credit: Frank Warren Twitter Account
Standing dominant from the centre of the ring there could be no doubt as to who was in charge of proceedings. All that was missing were some punches, very few were thrown in the first round with Yarde seemingly tentative to test out the resistance of his opponent.
The second round saw Yarde begin to push with an accurate right hook catching Reeves off balance, wobbling the legs. That success seemed to spur the 27 year old on, going forward with relaxed hands and firing away with that pawing left jab. All the while continually searching for openings to unload fatiguing punches to the kidneys of Reeves.
Reeves, a former world title challenger, looked in good physique both on the scales and in the ring but Yarde was establishing physical superiority. Jumping forward with urgency, Yarde landed a one-two to keep Reeves on his toes before the American responded with a flurry of searching jabs. A firm jab caught Reeves as the pair came out of a clinch, the 38 year old was starting to feel the weight of Yarde’s punches.
Despite that significant age disadvantage, if you can call it that, Reeves had arrived with a genuine belief that he could win and was firing in shots of his own to ensure Yarde didn’t have it all his own way. A clear second best, mind. Given the level of criticism being levelled at Yarde over the course of 2018 you’d imagine he’d have liked to send a statement by getting rid of his opponent as quickly as possible. No such approach materialised with the WBO #1 working his way through the motions, at a timid pace, with no real bite or ferocity.
The unbeaten prospect was landing some good shots, really nice hooks slammed into the body of Reeves, but there was an urgency lacking and, for me, that’s been missing from his last three, four bouts. The stoppage came, however, as a result of a supremely timed uppercut followed by a bouncing right hook. The legs wobbled as Yarde wound up and it was only a couple more shots before the referee called a halt to the contest halfway through the fifth round.
A convincing stoppage in a performance where Yarde never looked out of his comfort zone but, frankly, that is something we’re going to need to see. We need to see Yarde tested because, until we do, we will never know just how good he can be.
Chris Jenkins opened up the televised broadcast by upsetting the odds and defeating Johnny Garton to claim the British welterweight title.
Jenkins, stepping up in weight, made the smoother start as he rolled the shoulders and dipped the posture out of the reach of Garton. Living up to his “Rok’n’Rolla” nickname, the challenger kept on moving, navigating the ring in circles and keeping the upper body in continual movement. He landed the better shots in the early stages with a doubled-up jab earning him the nod in opening exchanges.
The third round saw a spark click within the champion as he sought to apply some pressure for the first time in the contest. Looking younger than his previous contest, against Gary Corcoran, there was a maturity to the work of Garton when he imposed his physicality with some strong body shots.
Having found momentary success at the quarter mark of the contest, the fourth round saw more tit-for-tat action but Garton landed the more eye-catching work. A combination of hooks at the centre of the ring followed up, twenty seconds later, by a pouncing right hand were the highlights as the contest began to warm up.
A fight fought at a relatively tepd pace seemed to go quite fast and the fifth round crept up relatively quickly. It was the challenger who found himself on the front foot, edging forwards and nipping away at the champion’s territory. Landing semi-regularly with a well-timed overhand right, Jenkins seemed to take the round with a resumption of the boxing basics.
Neither man was running away with the contest but it was Jenkins, you felt, was producing the better quality work. A nice uppercut on the ropes from Jenkins caught the eye but a perennial jab in the face of his opponent was preventing Garton from really sinking his teeth in.
Coming out bullishly in the seventh round, Garton began to fight in that familiar style of his. The 31 year old began to relax as he bounced on his toes, he landed some strong right hands but the pockets of aggression weren’t enough to counter the continued workrate of Jenkins. Garton didn’t seem to really commit to many of his punches, failing to plant his feet or throw punches with the full weight of his body.
Round by round it seemed as though Jenkins was chipping closer to the British title – a belt he has fought for twice before, at super lightweight. Even though Garton tried to rough the contest up in the ninth round and fight on the inside, Jenkins produced a stunning salvo of overhand rights to wear down his opponent.
His shot of choice was landing with an alarming frequency, cutting Garton underneath the left eye, as the Peckham fighter dug in and walked onto many of the shots. To his credit Garton was pushing Jenkins onto the ropes and countering the attacks of Jenkins well. It seemed as though every flurry from Garton, however, saw his guard exploited by the crisp timing of his counterpart.
In truth Jenkins never looked fazed or faltered from the incoming artillery and, indeed, sapped the energy and determination out of the champion. It was a performance that, to be honest, not many out of his close circle expected but those that did were incredibly confident in. You simply cannot fault Garton, however, who came out ferociously in the final couple of rounds but he was simply outworked and outboxed. Jenkins landed the cleaner more consistent punches throughout and was a well-deserved winner, of an entertaining contest, by scorecards of 119-109, 117-112, 116-112.
Liam Wiliams defended his British middleweight belt with a bruising victory over, former English champion, Joe Mullender.
Fought from the centre of the ring, from the off, Liam Williams continued in as similar vein to his performance against Mark Heffron with skillful footwork seeing him slip out of the pocket. Again the jab of Williams was relentless in the face of a come-forward opponent and the Welshman dug with some gritty left hooks to the body.
Mullender stood his ground in the second round with a staunch high guard being kept as he sought to sneak his way into holding range. A stupendous uppercut from the champion saw Mullender lurch upwards before successive concussive shots splattered his head and body. Down he went but upon rising he was allowed to fight on. A simple step forward allowed for a clubbing right hand to crash down on the jaw of Mullender and finish the fight for good.
Emphatic for Williams, there can be no other words for it.
The vacant WBO European belt was on the line for Daniel Dubois’ tenth professional contest with Razvan Cojanu in the opposite corner. Weighing in at 240lbs – as opposed to the 226 advertised the previous day – the 20 year old started brightly and produced a good varitety of shots from the off. Peppering the body of Cojanu, it was interesting to see a tapping jab being used to set up the heavier shots to the midriff.
Cojanu, two and a half inches the taller man, throw his first punches of note in the second round but Dubois remained comfortable in his posture and punch selection. Two accidental low-blows came as a result of Dubois’ intentions to target the body of his Romanian opponent and the 20 year old successfully teed off against Cojanu with around thirty seconds to go of the second round.
A forceful straight left pushed Cojanu onto the ropes before a heavy right blasted through his guard. It was a left hook to the opened up body that set up a brash follow-up to the chin. A strong left hand on the button to send Cojanu crumpling to the canvas, a final right on the cheek finished the onslaught and saw the world title challenger sprawled flat. Despite a desperate scramble to regain his feet, he never beat the count and Daniel Dubois emerged the victor within the space of two rounds.
The best performance of Dubois’ short career, the shot selection and variation from the 20 year old was impressive and he found real success to the body of Cojanu. Beautiful finishing from Dubois who, surely, is at the forefront of future British boxing success.
Oof, what a night. And oof is a word that firmly does it justice because that was a cracking night of boxing for the return to Royal Albert Hall – 2019 is warming up to be a good one!
ESPN+ Boxing Preview: Yarde vs. Reeves, Dubois vs. Cojanu
By: Oliver McManus
Frank Warren kick starts his promotional operations of 2019 at Royal Albert Hall with two cracking British title fights.
There’s a sensational match-up for the British Middleweight title as Liam Williams looks to defend the belt against Joe Mullender. Williams returns to the ring off the back of his peerless victory over Mark Heffron, in December, but is guaranteed to face more fire on the 8th.
In that fight it was the Welshman who dictated the pace of the fight with a lovely jab and sharp footwork to keep Heffron at bay; Mullender will be a far different challenge as he looks to get right in the face of the champion. Smokin’ Joe has made no bones as to the approach he’ll take with the fight, in simple terms, just ‘punch him more than he punches me’. A tactic that the 32 year old has taken throughout his career and one that consistently produces entertainment.
That all out aggression has produced serious results against genuine fighters with two bruising encounters against Lee Markham for the English title, as well as Lee Churcher and Ben Capps over the last two years – though the result of the Churcher bout was later overturned due to an anti-doping violation.
Not looking past Mullender, who will prove to be more than just a plucky puncher, Williams has stated his intentions to drop back down to super-welterweight and re-establish on the world scene at the lighter division. I am eager to see how far he can go at middle, though, with the Ingle Gym fighter a breath of fresh air in the division. Against Smokin’ Joe we’re guaranteed to see a fight that’ll go up in flames.
Drop down to welterweight and Johnny Garton looks to defend his belt against Chris Jenkins. Garton outclassed Gary Corcoran in a bloodied and battered war last October to claim the vacant title. Jenkins, meanwhile, has had mixed fortunes over the last 12 months with two of his three fights resulting in technical decisions.
Likewise with Williams-Mullender there is no chance of this being a quite encounter and I expect Jenkins to actually come out and try to be the more aggressive over the opening couple rounds. We saw against Corcoran the stamina and the work-rate that Garton possesses so you want to get some early rounds in the bag should the fight end up going the distance.
Jenkins, however, has a tendency to cut over the eyes and the skin around that area is getting weaker with every fight. There might be a reluctance, therefore, to fully commit and engage from inside the pocket. Garton, another one who is susceptible to cuts, has really hit his stride over the last five, six fights with the 31 year old starting to produce consistently polished performances at the right tempo.
Now with that consistency it is time to capitalise on the natural ability that Garton has to fight and maximise the rewards for when he finishes his career. Opportunities haven’t always been available for the Peckham-fighter what with, gym-mate and friend, Skeete holding the British belt. Garton now, though, is the man at the domestic scene so let’s see where he goes from here – it’ll be entertaining, that’s for sure.
Away from the Lord Lonsdale fights you have Anthony Yarde facing Travis Reeves in a contest that bears resemblance to the frustrations of last year – yet another opponent that few people will have heard of.
It’s become increasingly clear that while Yarde possesses considerable punching power, he isn’t this one-punch knock-out artist that can end a fight with the turn of a screw. At least not from what we’ve seen so far. Instead he tires out his counterparts, wearing down their bodily resistance and mental resilience throughout a number of rounds. Yes he drops opponents from well timed, accurately placed, shots but rarely do bouts come round to any thunderous conclusion.
Initially set to face Mehdi Amar on February 23rd, the Frenchman withdrew three weeks prior and then the whole show was cancelled, Reeves stepped up to the plate. Two years older than Amar and eleven more than, 27 year old, Yarde, Reeves will enter the ring with a record of 17-3-2. Nicknamed Seveer – purely for the reason it is his surname background – the American intended to turn professional in 2004 with a fight scheduled in Philadelphia. That bout fell through and Reeves’ career fell into extended disarray with the Baltimore man eventually debuting in 2013. Seven fights in a year saw Reeves sitting with a record of 3-2-2 before returning to Baltimore to string some wins together.
By no means a big puncher, Reeves boasts no wins over recognisable names. Indeed his best performance came against Aaron Quattrocchi in November 2016 when the 38 year old knocked his opponent out within two rounds to claim the USBO Light Heavyweight title. Against Karo Murat last March, Reeves struggled to find a foothold in the contest, taking place in Hamburg, before succumbing to a 12th round TKO – a mercy rule finish, if ever there was one.
A fight that could be the straw to break the camel’s back, Yarde needs a performance more than he ever has before.
The final main fight of the card will see Daniel Dubois up against Razvan Cojanu. Having been postponed from December 15th, Dubois will be looking to make up for lost time and, indeed, lost time to his closest rival Nathan Gorman.
Dynamite heads into his 10th professional contest off the back of a disappointing performance against Kevin ‘Kingpin’ Johnson. That contest, back in October, was a case of repetition throughout the 10 rounds with the American reverting to the ropes whilst Dubois fought fairly one-dimensionally. It was, arguably, the first fight where you Dubois’ youth and inexperience came to the fore – you suspect the process coming at such an early stage will stand him in good stead, though.
Cojanu, on the other hand, returns to UK shores for the second time in just under three months with the Romanian having fought Nathan Gorman on December 22nd. In that bout, 12 rounder, Gorman started off sprightly before fading in the latter half of the contest. Cojanu, to give him credit, recovered from a relatively shaky start to hold his own. Well, when I say ‘hold his own’, he didn’t look like getting knocked out but was a comprehensive second-best. Now with a record of 16 and 5, Cojanu’s most recent trio of losses have come to Razvan Cojanu, Luis Ortiz and Gorman. Only Ortiz has stopped him.
Starting off 2019 with a shared opponent, of the calibre of Cojanu, will be a great yardstick for measuring up Warren’s two heavyweight prospects.
It is March 8th that sees the start of Frank Warren’s promotional adventures – a delayed beginning but one that promises excitement. It’s a Royal Rumble but not as you know it…
ESPN+ Boxing Results: Yarde Defends Title, Corcoran and Garton Engage in a War
By: Oliver McManus
The Brentwood Centre played host to a fiddle of fine fights this Saturday night as Frank Warren promoted some of his most hotly-tipped talents with Anthony Yarde defending his WBO Inter-Continental belt against, Argentine champion, Walter Sequeira; Gary Corcoran and Johnny Garton went at it for the British Welterweight strap; and Umar Sadiq and Zak Chelli put their unbeaten records on the line over eight rounds.
Anthony Yarde, looking to move 17 and 0, was in the ring against Walter Gabriel Sequeira – a man who’s record is composed of 21 wins and 4 losses, although his comprehensive loss to Avni Yilidrim tells you all you need to know – in what was widely expected to be a routine victory.
The WBO’s #2 ranked light heavyweight entered the ring just before 23:00 UK time and the Hackney-born man needed to dispatch with his opponent in double-quick time in order to prove he is of the calibre that he is sold as.
The Beast looked monstrous in comparison to the visiting fighter – officially 5ft10inches but looking a fair sight smaller than that – and Yarde bounced out of his corner immediately, swaggering into the centre of the ring, throwing out a meaningful jab from early doors.
Sequeira offered no genuine counter-artillery during the course of their opening exchanges but was offering some shots back as a reminder of his presence, Yarde controlled the tempo of the fight with a relative ease and, whilst not pushing the cause, was on top of the contest from the off.
The Argentine sought to get in close to the body of Yarde at every possible opportunity, working the inside, forcing Yarde to create the space and angles in order to land convincing shots of his own, some strong body shots were landed by the home favourite as a tentative reminder of the power he carries.
Three rounds in and Yarde started to up the pressure, landing some strong uppercuts to check the chin of Sequeira before a couple of battering shots to head started to take their toll on the man from Argentina – rather tame and underwhelming stuff, in all honest, if truth be told.
“This is the round”, we were told between the third and fourth round, the round for Yarde to look for the finish off the back of a convincing third round but Anthony Yarde got caught up in the clinch far too often, almost refusing to find space of his own, to take a step back and explode into the shots.
Having spent a minute trying to paw around to create the angle, he landed a downwards right hand to Sequeira, from the clinch in order to send his man to the canvas before the contest started and Yarde moved through the motions, dropping Sequeria a second time.
Up again and a calm, composed shot selection from Yarde with two “big” rights and lefts sending the challenger to the canvas for a third and final time with the contest duly waived off – a stoppage victory, sure, but the underwhelming opposition will do little for his reputation.
Yarde looked in control and heavy-handed but not necessarily explosive and dyanamic, a good finish but there’s definitely work to be done.
Johnny Garton and Gary Corcoran were the co-main event as the pair faced off for the vacant British welterweight title – Garton, a patient man, had waited nearly three years for this opportunity having been in the shadows of his stablemate Bradley Skeete, who formerly held the belt whilst Corcoran was in the second British title fight of his career.
The crowd were bouncy and so were the fighters, looking eager to get to battle as soon as the fight began and both men came to the centre of the ring, boxing busy, and establishing their respective jabs with Garton edging the initial exchanges with solid one-twos.
Corcoran, the former world title challenger, was showing grit and standing firm at the centre of the ring – true to his words, Corcoran was delivering on his promise to go toe-to-toe with Garton and was throwing some lovely combinations to the body of The Pexican.
Taking a shot to land two, three, four of his own, Corcoran landed good left hooks to the body of Garton before varying up with uppercuts and landed with a dominant flurry in the corner of the rope to sign off the second round in signature fashion.
Fights began to erupt in the crowd in what was a boisterous and ferocious atmosphere as the scraps began to turn ugly but, back in the ring, quality work by both men who were doing their best to remain undistracted by events outside of their control and it was Corcoran who continued to land impressive body shots before a heavy shot cut Garton underneath the eye.
Garton paid little notice to the nick, walking forward himself and taking advantage of the Corcoran’s lack of head movement, firing in some good shots and ensuring Corcoran wasn’t having it all his own way – only three rounds in and it was shaping up to be a cracker.
A former English, Southern Area and IBF European title holder, Garton has been no stranger to pressure fights against an array of strong domestic contenders but it was Corcoran who, arguably, was landing the stronger shots as he pushed Garton to the ropes in a relentless fashion with shot after shot being thrown at the Peckham man.
The cleaner work and more crips shots were being landed by Garton but Corcoran was eye-catching in his work, fighting true to his nature and turning the fight into a real battle.
This rhythm continued as we neared the middle portions of the fight with both men standing their ground at the centre of the ring – no quarter asked and no quarter given – throwing their shorts and absorbing the punishment that was coming their way. A thrilling bout that ebbed and flowed with both men finding pockets of success, Corcoran the more rugged man whilst Garton looked to piece things together in a calmer fashion.
Calmer in this fight, make no mistake, was still ferocious in any other. Garton received a large cut to the head in the sixth round but came out fighting in the seventh as he continued to put together the more composed work.
Claret seeped across the face of Garton throughout the round with Corcoran looking to seize his opportunity, rallying with successive shots to the head of Garton but the fight was mainly being fought to the body with both men landing some brilliant punches.
Warriors, at the core of it, they kept on coming forward with each and every round, embroiling each other in physical warfare but the shots, as punishing as they were, took little toll on either man with both digging in and continuing the pace they began with.
If you were to be hyper-critical you could say Garton looked a little ragged in the eighth round as Corcoran found more openings more angles for success; Garton returned to the safety of the jab whilst Corcoran continued to march forward and throw solid right hands.
That criticism could be flipped completely on its head in the following round as Corcoran began to look the more scruffy fighter, conceding ground for the first time in the bout and being beaten to the punch on numerous occasions as Garton simply refused to relent, swinging the full weight of his body into the punches to force Corcoran onto the back foot.
Blood now decorated the face of both men, the shorts once white with blue trim and white with red, respectively, were gradually turning a pale shade of pink.
After the middle rounds saw Corcoran working his way into the fight and taking the upper-hand, it was Garton that rallied from the ninth round on with storming left hooks seemingly landing at will to snap the head back of his younger opponent but, regardless, Corcoran kept on coming back with fire of his own to keep Garton in check.
Stunning work, simply sensational work from both men who were showing just what the Lonsdale belt means to these guys in a fight full of heart that and as we entered the eleventh Corcoran staggered, almost, to his customary position at the centre of the ring but a ferocious left sent his legs stiffening to the ropes, he ducked and weaved but Garton kept on landing.
A left hook, that trademark shot, forced Steve Gray to step in and halt the bout with Corcoran deemed to be taking too much punishment, Johnny Garton claimed the British welterweight strap with a breath-taking display of guts and glory via an eleventh round TKO.
WHAT A FIGHT!
Umar Sadiq and Zak Chelli – three and four fights without defeat, respectively – were pitting their unbeaten records against each-other over the course of a scheduled eight rounds in a genuine 50-50 fight.
Chelli, the more explosive of the two, began the fight in the centre of the ring as he bounced in and out of the pocket before landing some right hands to the body of Sadiq – Chelli looked relaxed in his body language and comfortable in his footwork but Sadiq, himself, was staying busy with his footwork, staying at range.
A positive start from Chelli, still in full-time education, who retained the higher work rate whilst staying patient and composed in the process – the mild-mannered man was landing full-blooded right hands, seeking to unload with real bad inentions.
Sadiq, 10 years the elder fighter, looked to grow into the fight as he landed the rangy left hand with an increased frequency though an argument could be made for him using the jab more often in order to disrupt the rhythm of his, more combative, opponent.
Towards the halfway stage we went and Chelli maintained the more aggressive fight style but Sadiq was landing with more consistency now and landed a decent right hand as the bout began to warm up – a tepid start from the older fighter, an incredibly down-to-earth man, but things were starting to heat up as Sadiq began to push forward on his lead foot.
Neither fighter was landing with arrow-like precision but the sixth round saw a delightful over-hand right connect from Chelli, a punch that Sadiq walked onto in the process of trying to land a heavy shot of his own, and dropped his man to the canvas but the thirty year old shock it off, got back up and straight back into the fight. Around forty-five seconds later, the Ilford man landed a strong over-hand right of his own with Chelli scampering around the ropes.
A nip-and-tuck fight in which neither man solidified their individual advantages, it was Chelli who fought the more aggressive fight but, as rounds went on, Sadiq started to come forward more and walk his opponent down, popping out shots more frequently and bringing the pace of the bout back into his control.
The eight round saw the Umar Sadiq that many expected to see emerge as he began to impose a physically-commanding gameplan on that of Chelli, bullying his man around the ring, trading leather before a smacking left hook from Chelli, in the final seconds, saw the tide turn and the 20 year old began to unfurl an endless parade of shots, trying to take Sadiq out, but the bell rang to signal the end of a cracking eight rounds between two classy, classy, super-middleweights.
Zak Chelli won the bout by 77 points to 74 on the scorecard of Chas Coakley but that only just begun to whet the appetite… a rematch, for the vacant Southern Area belt, has surely got to be on the table?
It’s fair to say that the headlining fight as underwhelming, it was always going to be, but boy we were treated to some cracking fights on the undercard – Johnny Garton, he’s been patient, he’s bided his time, but now it’s his opportunity to seize everything that his talent and heart will bring.
Five UK Based Fighters Who Need a Big 2019
By: Oliver McManus
12 months can be a long time in the sport of boxing – it can see you go from the cusp of retirement to the brink of a world title and for these next boxers, they’ll be hoping that 2019 is the year for them because these are five fighters in need of a BIG 12 months.
Photo of Jay Harris and Kristian Touze
Andrew Selby – Flyweight
There was a time, not so long ago, that we thought we had seen the last of Andrew Selby when he announced “I’m not fighting anymore”, quite understandably this prompted confusion because for a long time he had been scheduled to fight for the European title – indeed a clash with Vincent Legrand was postponed back in June – and Selby was deemed, by many, far good a talent to be allowed to go to waste.
Last month, at last, there was some good news as Jamie Sanigar won the purse bids for his challenge to, Frenchman, Legrand and set a firm date for the Welshman’s return – October 27th at the Newport Centre. Since then there has been mixed signals about the fight with no official confirmation save for the European Boxing Union website who, incidentally, have assigned officials for the contest but the good news is that Selby is back in the gym with fire in his belly, once more.
Further to that, consider the former Team GB member has been mandated to fight Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar in a world title eliminator with the winner set to face, WBC Champion, Cristofer Rosales – a man who Selby comfortably outpointed last May – and you start to see the makings of a sensational 2019 where, if all goes well, we could see the crowning of a new British world champion.
Anthony Yarde – Light Heavyweight
With one sharp intake of breath we get reminded that Yarde is the number 2 ranked challenger with the World Boxing Organization and, swiftly after, it is explained to us that he’s still not ready for a world title because he’s learning the trade.
Now there’s nothing wrong with either of those statements but the constant juxtaposition of the two leave me crying out for Yarde to have a monumental 2019 and this is nothing to do with Anthony Yarde, not at all, because he is a genuinely nice guy and rather this frustration is born out of a desire for him to do well and prove critics wrong – at least, attempt to prove them wrong.
Since fighting Nikola Sjekloca on December 9th, Yarde has seen his stock fall with the 27 year old facing, less than inspiring, Tony Averlant and Dariusz Sek in the meantime; that performance against Sjekloca was a top quality, high energy, explosive performance against a respectable opponent whilst against Averlant and Sek it is almost as though he’s dropped down to their level.
Next out on October 20th Yarde, now 16 and 0, will face the Argentine national champion Walter Gabriel Sequeira who steps up to the plate after, it is believed, Sean Monaghan priced himself out after initially accepting the fight – regardless, the whole boxing world wants to see Yarde get in the ring with an opponent will provide him with a solid test and there are plenty of British light-heavies that would be gunning for the fight.
Hopefully, for him and us, 2019 will see Anthony Yarde start to really make his mark on the 175lb scene.
Lawrence Okolie – Cruiserweight
British, Commonwealth, WBA Continental Champion with only 10 fights under his belt, things are going pretty well for Okolie from a belts point of view and you certainly can’t criticise Okolie for the guys he’s been willing to face – Isaac Chamberlain, Luke Watkins and Matty Askin in only his eighth, ninth and tenth fights.
That’s all fine and dandy but his much-hyped contests against Chamberlain and Askin, in particular, have failed to live up to the expectations as Okolie imposed a largely physical, holding game-plan much to the irritation of those watching.
Far be it from me to criticise a professional boxer unnecessarily but Okolie himself admits his performances were disappointing and, yes he got the win, but he’s in a situation where he needs to start letting his hands go and relaxing through the bout in order to become a big Box Office attraction.
With strong amateur pedigree, Okolie was always going to take a hastened route to the top but the cruiserweight sensation needs to go back to basics and work the jab to tee up openings that he can exploit in order to look every bit as good as we know he can be.
Plenty of domestic challengers are salivating at a potential fight with the Hackney-man and I like Okolie, I really like him, but time is a friend not an enemy and, having smashed his way through his first 10 fights, he can afford to be patient for 2019 in terms of names but the performances need to be big.
Okolie needs to be seen as adaptive and exciting otherwise people, having seen what they have, will be inclined to switch off – I’ve little doubt as to the quality and desire of the cruiserweight prospect so he should be able to take it in his stride!
Joseph Parker – Heavyweight
Returning to the ring on December 15th having been subjected to back-to-back losses against Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, respectively, Joseph Parker is in danger of becoming the forgotten talent of heavyweight boxing.
Making history by becoming the first New Zealand heavyweight world champion, you’d be hard pressed to suggest that Parker looked impressive in the fight that saw him crowned WBO king – against Andy Ruiz – or indeed in his subsequent defences over Razvan Cojanu and Hughie Fury and, actually, that fight against Dillian Whyte is, arguably, the best we’ve seen Parker.
That sounds weird to say given that he was on the reverse side of a unanimous decision but when Parker really got into his rhythm he was able to control the tempo of the fight, force Whyte into hot water and he looked like a physically imposing roughhouse fighter as opposed to the technical man we’ve got used to seeing.
It raised questions of WHY haven’t we seen this fire and aggression from the Kiwi before and whilst I can’t answer that question, I look forward to seeing how it impacts the 26 year olds fight plans going forward.
Parker gets the benefit of being in a comparatively weak heavyweight pool of talent than in years previous with a distinct gulf in quality even ranging throughout the top 15 and that should, on paper, ensure that Parker gets back into the world title mix sooner rather than later and, certainly, there are relatively few challengers that you wouldn’t tip Duco’s main man to topple.
The rebuild starts on December 15th, the climb back to a world title shot continues into 2019.
Now this is the slightly left field option for this article because who said I was going for the obvious? Jay Harris is a fighter who has had a frustrating year thus far with the Commonwealth flyweight champion scheduled to defend his belt – won via unanimous decision over Thomas Essomba back in February 2017 – against Dexter Marques back the first quarter of the year before visa issues put that fight indefinitely on hold.
He would fight for the first time in nine months when he entered the ring at the Llandarcy Academy of Sport on August 11th and eased his way to a 60-55 points decision over Critisan Narvaez and with those rounds under his belt he quickly set about establishing a date to defend his coveted belt.
That fight, against Ross Murray, was scheduled for this month but pushed back ever so slightly to November 3rd at York Hall; Mo Prior, the man behind British Warriors, has taken the Welsh flyweight under his wing and is already on a mission to provide Harris with regular fight dates for, put simply, the 28 year old is a sumptuous talent.
With one on the winner of Ryan Farrag vs Sunny Edwards – that bout for the WBO European Super Flyweight strap – Harris has already been mandated for the British Super Flyweight belt as well as the EBU-EU title so there are plenty of opportunities available for the Swansea-man, and that’s without even considering the permutations of the CBC!
By no means is this an exhaustive list of fighters who require a big one next year nor, for that matter, is it the five fighters who need it the MOST but they are guys who, in my opinion, should be hoping to leave a mark over the course of the next 12 months.
For guys like Jay Harris it is through no fault of their own that they are in the frustrating situation that they are and, certainly, there are plenty other candidates for this article – Kell Brook, Amir Khan, Liam Walsh, Roman Gonzalez to name just a handful but keep an eye out on these five fellas as they look for a career-best 2019.
Yarde and DuBois Win In England
Frank Warren’s 2018 kicked off with an emphatic bang last night as his brightest prospects made decisive statements at York Hall, Bethnal Green, to lay the foundations down for an enthralling 2018.
Photo Credit Box Nation Twitter Account
The Untouchables featured three mouth-watering fighters in title bouts as Anthony Yarde defended his WBO Inter-Continental and European titles against Tony Averlant, Daniel Dubois looked to retain his Southern Area strap against DL Jones and Zelfa Barrett took on Ronnie Clarke for the vacant IBF European Super Featherweight belt.
Light-heavyweight Yarde was the headlining act for his 15th professional fight and was up against a durable Averlant, who’s a fair bit better than his 26-9-2 record suggests, in a scheduled 10 rounder. An obvious step-down from, Yarde’s previous opponent, Nikola Sjekloca this was all about putting in a performance in order to set-up exciting clashes against fellow Top 25 opposition for the duration of 2018.
Averlant was looking to prove he had what it takes to compete at the European level with the 33-year-old having fallen short at every other opportunity, most notably from a crunching body shot courtesy of Juergen Braehmer back in 2013.
The fight didn’t start off quite as you’d expect with Yarde opting to patiently sit back and wait for Averlant to approach him before unleashing a handful of heavy right-hand punches against the body of the Frenchman. Movement from Yarde was the prime skill displayed over the opening three minutes as he evaded the shots of Averlant and did well to cut off the ring for his opponent.
That momentum and unfamiliarity of style continued into the second round with Averlant goading Yarde into an opening attack before landing his own series of shots on the WBO #2 – Yarde seemed relatively unfazed and hit back but, nonetheless, Averlant seemed to be a trickier test than many anticipated with Yarde reluctant to be drawn into a firefight.
Order was restored with the bell to mark the beginning of the third round with Anthony Yarde giving reason to his Beast nickname, unloading on his opponent with thunderous shots to both head and body. Often with his hands down by his side, Frank Warren’s prospect slammed his right hand into the head of Averlant, following through with his whole body, reddening the face but no real combination shots to add to the pain.
A quiet fourth and fifth round followed with Yarde undoubtedly dominating but just wearing down Averlant as opposed to seeking to expel him from the ring – the sixth round saw him step the fight up a notch with a plethora of body shots, similar to Juergen Braehmer’s tactics, fatiguing the ribs and solar plexus before a slaughtering shot at the ropes dropped Averlant on the 90 second mark. Mere seconds later and the Frenchman was down again, he hung on until the end of the round but Yarde was ready for the kill.
Averlant had proven to be as durable as can of baked beans but with blood in the water, Yarde wasn’t going to mellow on the Frenchman and battered the body so bad you could order it at your local chippy! Survival mode kicked in for Averlant but his spirit never died regardless of the sheer bombardment coming his way.
With the referee reluctant to stop the fight and Yarde look set to bounce Averlant out of the ring, the French corner pulled their man out at the end of the 7th round to give Anthony Yarde the win AND an enhanced ranking with the WBO. He retains the European and Inter-Continental version of their titles so the only question left is ‘who’s next?’.
Daniel ‘Dynamite’ Dubois was looking to explode into 2018 with a convincing win over his unbeaten Southern Area rival DL Jones who was going into the contest with 8 wins and a single draw – coincidentally that draw came against Dorian Darch, Dubois’ last opponent.
Weighing at his second heaviest career weight Dubois was still the lighter man as his 36 year old opponent weighed in at 110.2kg (243lbs) and behind that stocky frame was a fighter looking to cash in on his career high payday (reported to be near £15,000).
The first round proved to be the hardest of Dubois’s professional career with DL Jones looking to hold for the most part whilst trying to swing in from a crouched position – at times it was reminiscent of a wrestling bout but Jones was successful in subduing outlandish levels of power beheld by Dubois.
Dubois adjusted well into the second round as he begun to tee off against Jones by the ropes, aiming for the body of the Sheerness-born opponent. Visibly frustrated was Triple D but he kept the jab popping into the face of the former army veteran.
Biding his time before eventually unleashing an uppercut followed by a flurry of body punches, Dubois was picking off his challenger with ease whilst never really clicking into gear before relaxing in the third round and letting his natural power come through.
Pinning Jones against the ropes around the halfway mark of the third, Dubois shellacking his man with punishing jabs to the head along with big right hand overhead hooks – three, four in a row – enforcing the pain on Dave Jones. The smile on his face failed to mask the buckle in his legs and a concussive right uppercut-straight combination saw him collapse to the canvas.
A third round knockout for Daniel Dubois to make it seven wins, seven early baths, saw the 20 year old retain his Southern Area title and we’ll see him back out at the O2 on April 14th as he looks to make 2018 his year.
On paper the toughest fight for the three main protagonists came as Zelfa ‘Brown Flash’ Barrett faced Ronnie ‘The Shark’ Clark for the vacant IBF European Super Featherweight championship; Clark, the former British title challenger, represented the biggest step up for Barrett, 19-0.
Determined to steal the limelight from the start, the green-haired Shark gained the best of a tentative opening first round with neither boxer willing to impose their fight plans and both struggling to connect with anything clean and that rhythm followed into the second portion of three minutes with Clark doing well to pressure Barrett against the ropes but failing to ask serious questions of the 24 year old.
Voices from some corners described Barrett as “drawn” during the weigh-ins and public work outs and that started to show as the fight progressed with the, relatively big, super-feather finding it tough to adapt to the southpaw stance of his more experienced opponent.
The fourth round seemed to spark something into the Shark who was now finding the body of Barrett with increasingly alarming consistency to the extent that after switching to the head and landing with a sharp uppercut, the Dundee-man simply smiled.
Relaxed but effective best described the fighting style of Ronnie Clark but by no-means was he in the clear as his Mancunian opponent kept his head moving and shots firing – if not necessarily connecting – to make the first four or five rounds still 50-50.
Barrett was pressing his case across the opening minute of the sixth, upping the tempo and attacking Clark with real grit and gusto but, in a sudden switch, was hit by a stunning, straight, left-hand jab countered by a right hand uppercut that sent his body to the canvas, his teeth to the crowd and his head to the clouds.
From that moment Clark pursued Barrett in relentless fashion, throwing bombs for the remaining 90 seconds in a round of pure hell for the pre-right favourite; whilst Barrett regained his composure during the break between rounds, the only punch of note in the seventh was a left hand from the youngster that was deflected well by Clark.
Into the middle-to-late rounds we went and they seemed to mirror the opening three, after some scintillating rounds of boxing both men needed a breather. When the fight ignited again, around the ninth round, Zelfa managed to find a good flurry of shots to the body of Clark as he began to edge his way back into the fight from a shot which, to be fair , would have stopped many a lesser fighter.
The healthy flow of punches continued into the 10th round of super-featherweight action with both men exchanging leather, Clark trying to drive Barrett back towards the ropes but the Mancunian firing in with repetitive shots of his own.
Championship rounds are the ones that win fights and Barrett was aware of that, making a strong start to the 11th as he kept Clark in sight and having, by far, the better of the exchanges in terms of work rate and consistency but the more eye-catching skills were coming from the man from Scotland.
With both fighters wanting to seal the win the 12th round was always going to be an absolute belter and so it proved with both men giving it their all, sapping their energy with combinations from both men in a phone-box competition marred only by the Barrett’s gum shield dropping out. Clark kept the right hand leads flowing into the body of Barrett whilst receiving the full artillery from his opponent. Clark was static but sensational, Barrett lucid but lacklustre.
To the scorecards it went with no-one in the venue able to confidently predict the outcome; 116-111, 116-111, 114-114, a majority decision to the NEW IBF European Super Featherweight champion Ronnie Clark, but by five?
Also on the card we saw Nathan Gorman stamp his authority over Morgan Dessaux to move to 12-0 in the heavyweight division; Archie Sharp stopped Ivan Ruiz Morote in the 7th round to improve his record to 12 wins, no defeats, in the super-feather weight class; Ryan Garner returned to the ring after 6 months out with a points decision over Lesther Cantillano, The Piranha goes seven without defeat; in the super middle division, Umar Sadiq beat Yailton Neves comfortably to go to 2-0; Hamza Sheeraz obtained the same record at super-welter; Boy Jones Jr went 8 rounds in the lightweight division but enhanced his record to 15-1-1 whilst Harvey Horn moved to 2 and 0 in the flyweight division.