Former light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev is backing his amateur rival, Artur Beterbiev, in the mandatory fight with Anthony Yarde.

Back in 2019, Kovalev made a mandatory defense of the WBO title against Yarde in Russia.

In the second half of the fight, Yarde had Kovalev in serious trouble and appeared to be on the verge of getting knocked out. Kovalev was able to survive and eventually stopped an exhausted Yarde in the championship rounds.

On Saturday night in London, Yarde will get his second crack at gold when he challenges Beterbiev for the IBF, WBO, WBC light heavyweight titles.

Kovalev, who now competes at cruiserweight, explains that he was weight drained for the fight and still managed to overcome Yarde's rally and stop him.

Beterbiev is a tremendous favorite in the fight, with Yarde being tabbed to have a puncher's chance at best.

Kovalev does not expect the fight to enter the second half - with his prediction that Beterbiev will secure a stoppage in the first six rounds of the bout.

“I think it’s going to be an interesting fight, but in my opinion, Artur will smash him. I was in trouble when I fought Anthony Yarde. I was in trouble in round number seven or eight because I was drained of my energy by losing weight. I lost more than 15 pounds for this fight. He couldn’t stop me," Kovalev said to Ring IQ.

“What I think so, Artur will finish him in the middle of the fight. It’s boxing. Not later than six. I think so, five, six. They’re both big, strong & smart. Therefore, it’s an interesting fight, but I think so, Beterbiev will smash him before the middle of the fight.”