Is Yarde Catching Kovalev At Just The Right Time
By Nathan J Cartwright
The spectacle involving the UK’s exciting but inexperienced prospect Anthony Yarde vs the vastly more experienced and hard-hitting Russian Sergey Kovalev will be taking place in Russia later this month.
But the question I’m asking is how much focus and commitment the 36-year-old Krusher has remaining to overturn a hungry underdog such as Yarde.
It won’t be news to followers of the sport that Kovalev hasn’t had an easy few months, with a story involving HIM allegedly ‘kissing a female passenger and throwing money at her’ on a flight bound for Los Angeles surfacing recently, together with a further allegation from a party in June 2018 that landed Kovalev in a £6m lawsuit after a women accused him of inflicting injuries on her after she rejected his advances.
Although matters haven’t been smooth outside the ring, inside it Kovalev has once again returned to his winning ways with a revenge unanimous decision win over rival Eleider Alvarez to take back the status of the World Boxing Organisation world light heavy champion. A win which in many ways saw elements of Kovalev returning to his best form and springboarding him once again as one of the dominant figures in the packed division.
When Kovalev and Andre Ward first met on November 2016 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, they were both at the very top of their game and considered amongst the pound for pound best by many fans and pundits.
Ward was the victor by unanimous decision that night, but post-fight media and fan reaction suggested that many had Kovalev edging the fight, which ultimately led to the pair agreeing terms for a rematch in the following year that took place in Mandalay Bay Events Centre, Las Vegas.
Unfortunately for Kovalev in the rematch, he was on the receiving end of an 8th round TKO stoppage by the referee Tony Weeks where borderline body shot punches resulted in Kovalev slumped over against the ropes in a position where he was no longer defending himself.
Although at the time of stoppage Kovalev was ahead on one of the judges’ scorecards, many felt that Ward stepped up his performance and was winning the rematch in a much more convincing fashion.
For the first time, the fan-friendly style fighter Kovalev faced criticism by the media and fans alike, where he was labelled a quitter for the way the rematch had ended.
Following on from the bout with Ward, Kovalev recorded two TKO wins over fringe contenders before agreeing to terms for a showdown with the unbeaten contender Eleider Alvarez.
In a bout where many felt favourite Kovalev would record a routine win, disaster struck when Kovalev was knocked down three times in the seventh round before ultimately losing the fight by KO.
Post-fight criticism came Kovalev’s way once again where questions regarding his punch durability and commitment to training outside the ring were being asked.
Kovalev’s way to address the widespread criticism was to agree to terms for an immediate rematch with Alvarez, where a display of first-rate dominance was on show and it looked once again as if Kovalev had found his best form and he returned to the top of the division.
After the performance on February 2019, negotiations were underway for Kovalev to face his WBO mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde. To the surprise of many, terms were agreed and Yarde had agreed to fight Kovalev in his home nation of Russia.
It was reported last month Yarde had been offered a figure of circa £1million step aside money to allow Kovalev to face boxing superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, which to the disappointment of the Kovalev camp was turned down by Yarde.
With the negotiations between Canelo and Kovalev going on for a number weeks, it begs the question of whether Kovalev has been preparing and focusing his training toward the heavy-hitting Yarde. If the dangling of the carrot of the potential mega-fight with Canelo makes The Krusher overlook his WBO mandatory defence against Yarde, he could be in for a hard night’s works.
A loss to an underdog at this stage of his career could spell disaster for Kovalev and would, without doubt, put to bed any future thoughts for the lucrative fight with Canelo.
Yarde is powerful, hungry and committed to the sport, much in the way similar to how Kovalev was when rising through the ranks, and perhaps everything that Kovalev doesn’t need at this point in his career.