Big weekend in boxing this Saturday as #P4P contenders Juan Francisco Estrada, Sergey Kovalev, and Kosei Tanaka are all in action across various weights, platforms, and countries this weekend but for the purposes of this week’s boxing breakdown report, it will be the huge fight taking place in Russia between Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and heavy-handed British up-and-comer Anthony Yarde that we will be focusing on for this article.
Current Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde (Light Heavyweight 12 rounds – Traktor Sport Palace – Chelyabinsk, Russia – ESPN+ ): Sergey Kovalev -185 (U 8½ -135) over Anthony Yarde
This is a great matchup for fight fans as it pits youth vs. experience as the 36-year-old feared WBO light-heavyweight champion, Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev goes up against a relatively untested quantity in 28-year-old Anthony Yarde. While the age gap isn’t in itself enormous, multiple wars have worn down Sergey Kovalev somewhat whereas Anthony Yarde is effectively a fresh prospect just starting out on his career.
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Yarde, who hails from England, is currently 18-0 with 17 KO’s and has looked very impressive in dispatching the majority of his foes as he combines decent upper body movement with extremely heavy hands. However, while he’s showed great promise up to this point, there is no-one on his resume that in any way resembles the type of challenge he faces this weekend in the form of former unified light-heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev. To compound this fact is that the fight is taking place in Russia (Kovalev’s home region of Chelyabinsk) and that reports have stated that Yarde rejected huge step-aside money to allow Kovalev the chance to face Canelo Alvarez in a fight mooted for a potential September 14th showdown earlier this year before negotiations fell through and the WBO light-heavyweight mandatory clash was back on.
The confidence Yarde, and especially his highly vocal trainer Tunde Ajayi, have shown in taking this fight in such a hostile environment as Russia and against such a formidable foe as Kovalev shows either an incredible assurance in their level of talent at this level or a total lack of awareness as to what their up against and a potential cash grab against a recognized name. And the odds the books have posted for this fight seem as perplexed to answer this question as most observers are as Kovalev comes into this fight as a moderate -175 favorite with Yarde coming back at as a +145 underdog.
Those odds seem completely out of whack to what each man has accomplished in the ring thus far and despite being 36 years old and having suspected alcohol issues in various incidents over the past number of years, Sergey Kovalev is still a formidable champion in the division, beating Jean Pascal, Bernard Hopkins and what many observers, including myself, thought in the first Andre Ward fight. Kovalev is the real deal and while he may be fading in some regards, his recent revenge win over Eleider Alvarez in February of this year shows he’s still firmly in the discussion as one of the best light-heavyweights in the world in what is an extremely deep division.
Kovalev is also a decorated amateur, amassing a 195-18 record before turning pro with multiple medal finishes over nearly nine years at the world level. Yarde has had a total of just 12 amateur fights after coming to boxing very late in his youth.
Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde Prediction
This fight, at least on paper, really is David and Goliath stuff, and while it’s true Yarde does possess solid punching power, he equally has never been faced with anyone who hits as hard as Sergey Kovalev across his limited career. Unsubstantiated reports have surfaced in recent days that all is not well between Kovalev and trainer Buddy McGirt and Kovalev is still dealing with multiple cases of assault going back both months and years. Perhaps, all these incidents finally take their toll on Sergey Kovalev and Anthony Yarde finally catches the old lion at a perfect time, or more likely this is an overmatched prospect being put in the deep end against a fading, but a legitimate champion.
In terms of value and the projected odds for this fight though, there really is only one way to look in this one and that is taking the Krusher to show there are levels to this game as he looks to set up a potentially massive fight later this year against boxing #P4P superstar Canelo Alvarez.