By Keith Idec
Anthony Yarde acknowledges all the obvious advantages Sergey Kovalev has entering their light heavyweight title fight.
The confident, undefeated Yarde just doesn’t think those supposed disadvantages will adversely affect him Saturday night. The British knockout artist anticipates another stoppage when he challenges the experienced, accomplished Kovalev for the WBO 175-pound championship at Traktor Sports Palace in Chelyabinsk, Russia, Kovalev’s hometown.
Yarde discussed this significant step up in class during an interview with ESPN UK’s Steve Bunce, which was posted Tuesday on YouTube.
“This fight’s gonna end with Anthony Yarde victorious,” Yarde said, “with a fantastic, spectacular knockout punch.”
The 36-year-old Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) has lost twice by knockout within the past two years – first to Andre Ward in their June 2017 rematch, then to Eleider Alvarez. Colombia’s Alvarez (24-1, 12 KOs) dropped Kovalev three times and knocked him out in the seventh round last August 4 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Kovalev bounced back from the worst defeat of his career in their immediate rematch. He out-boxed Alvarez and won a 12-round unanimous decision in that February 2 bout in Frisco, Texas.
The 28-year-old Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs) still doesn’t think Kovalev can take his power.
“I’m gonna go in there, I’m gonna knock out Kovalev,” Yarde said. “And again, I talk like this because it’s not me being arrogant or being boisterous or anything like that. It’s a confidence you need to install within yourself. It’s a belief system you need to install within yourself. I wanna go out there and do my job. I feel like Kovalev’s had his fights. I’ve had my fights. Kovalev’s had way more experience than me. He’s been in bigger fights. He’s been at this stage so many times before. This is my first time at this stage. But all that matters is what happens in the ring on that night.”
Most Internet sports books list Kovalev as a slight favorite over Yarde, who didn’t defeat a ranked light heavyweight contender on his way to becoming Kovalev’s mandatory challenger. Yarde has just 30 fights on his record altogether – 12 as an amateur and 18 as a professional – yet he feels more than ready to dethrone this three-time light heavyweight champion.
“When Anthony Yarde goes out there now,” Yarde said, “a little kid, started boxing late, 12 amateur fights, 18 professional fights, hasn’t fought nobody, goes there and knocks out Kovalev, the world changes.”
ESPN+ will stream Kovalev-Yarde as the main event of a two-bout broadcast set to begin Saturday at 12:30 p.m. EDT/9:30 a.m. PDT. The Kovalev-Yarde card will be broadcast by BT Sport in the United Kingdom (5 p.m. BST).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.