Kovalev Stops a Brave Yarde in 11 Rounds
As predicted Anthony Yarde couldn’t pull off the upset, but he leaves Russia knowing he gave his all, and he came so mightily close to upsetting Sergey Kovalev and winning the WBO light heavyweight title.
Behind on the cards Yarde went for broke in the 8th round, battering Kovalev all over the ring, and Yarde looked certain to end the fight right there. Kovalev looked exhausted, unravelling as he did against Andre Ward and Eleider Alvarez.
But somehow Kovalev survived, and Yarde’s great effort in that round would ultimately prove his last chance. A gas tank all but emptied, Yarde had his moment, he wouldn’t get another.
Yarde faded, Kovalev found his second wind, and he finished the job in the 11th round.
Kovalev boxed brilliantly at times behind his jab, and I thought Yarde was too cautious in the early rounds. Briefly we saw glimpses, but he couldn’t sustain the limited success he found.
But Yarde let nobody down, he proved beyond any doubt that he belongs in this level. Until the finish Yarde absorbed plenty of Kovalev’s best punches, bravely marching forward in the later rounds. The shots he took eventually took their toll, but Yarde proved many doubters wrong even in defeat.
Kovalev survived a real scare, but looks ready to be taken, another Alvarez will surely now fancy the job more than ever.
Yarde will come again, his stock enhanced by his brave effort. Experience obviously played it’s part, but on the night the better man won. Kovalev goes on, but for how much longer.
As for Yarde, a lot of boxes were ticked, he came in relaxed, with an impressive air of confidence about him. Despite the odds, he clearly fancied it.
Too much too soon maybe, but Yarde very nearly pulled it off. It reminded me so much of Colin Jones in the blistering heat all those years ago against Milton McCrory.
Jones never did win a world title, on this performance Yarde might.
Photo Credit: Reuters/Mathieu Belanger