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Yarde says Kovalev is just temporarily holding WBO belt

Sergey Kovalev

By Trevor McIntyre: As far as unbeaten #1 ranked WBO contender Anthony Yarde is concerned, Sergey Kovalev is just temporarily holding onto the World Boxing Organization light title following his victory over champion Eleider Alvarez last Saturday night in Frisco, Texas.

Yarde (17-0, 16 KOs) could soon be challenging Kovalev for his WBO strap depending on how well the 27-year-old British fighter looks in his fight this month against replacement opponent Travis Reeves (17-3-2, 7 KOs) on February 23 at the Leicester Arena, Leicester, UK. Yarde was supposed to be facing the hard hitting Mehdi Amar on February 23, but he suffered an injury training and he can’t make the fight.

Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) beat Alvarez (24-1, 12 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision in a mini-upset on ESPN+ to recapture his WBO belt that he’d lost to the Canadian based fighter last September.

“Sergey Kovalev regained the WBO world title over the weekend with a strong performance but, as far as I am concerned, him holding the belt is just a temporary arrangement and it will be in my hands before too long,” Yarde said.

The one problem that Yarde has with his chances of beating a talented fighter like Kovalev is he’s never had a step up fight against a world class opponent that would give a good gauge of whether he could handle the ability of a fighter like ‘The Krusher.’ Mehdi Amar was supposed to be someone that Yarde could test his talent against to show if he’s ready to mix it properly against the best in the 175 lb division, but that fight isn’t happening unfortunately. 38-year-old Travis Reeves is arguably a step down from the fodder that Yarde has been beating recently in Walter Gabriel Sequeira, Dariusz Sek, Tony Averlant and Nikola Sjekloca.

This is just another time-wasting fight for Yarde. Reeves is not going to prepare him for what he’s going to be dealing with in a fight against Kovalev. Never the less, Yarde needs to take that step up anyway to fight Kovalev. Yarde can’t mess about for the next four to six years trying to make up for the lack of an amateur career. Yarde probably shouldn’t have turned pro in the first place in 2014. He would have been better off staying in the amateur ranks where he could learn properly against a better class of fighters than the stiffs he’s been facing as a professional.

This is a good time for Yarde to fight for the WBO title. Kovalev, 35, isn’t getting any younger, and the chances of him getting beaten by a considerably less popular light heavyweight in the near future is high. Kovalev has enough defects in his game for Yarde to have a good chance of beating him.

If someone a little technically sound, younger and with better conditioning beat Kovalev, then it could be much more difficult for Yarde to rip the WBO title away from that fighter. This might be as good as it gets for Yarde. If he can’t beat the likes of Kovalev now, then he could forever be just a contender, considering that his chances of defeating the other champions Artur Beterbiev, Dmitry Bivol and Oleksander Gvozdyk would have to be considered low.

“My time is coming but the next fight is always the most important and, for now, my focus is just on getting the job done in Leicester,” Yarde said.

Yarde doesn’t have much to worry about in his next fight against 38-year-old replacement opponent Travis Reeves on February 23. It’s not likely that Reeves is going to cause an upset. He’s an older weak-punching fighter, who was knocked out by Karo Murat in the 12th round last year in March 2018.

Kovalev can box, and ye would make it tough on Yarde to try and pin him against the ropes in order to land his big shots. Yarden’s best chance of beating Kovalev would be if the Russian fighter retreated to the ropes and covered up like a sparring partner. That’s what many of Yarde’s over-matched opponents have been doing in his fights, and this enabled him to compile an impressive record.

Kovalev doesn’t receive as much credit as he deserves for having a good boxing brain. Yarde would have to beat Kovalev in the center of the ring for him to get a victory over him, and that doesn’t seem too likely. Yarde’s long game is lacking. He’s better when he has a stationary guy that is covering up, and not throwing anything back at him. Kovalev will throw punches back at Yarde, and he’snot going to be covering up and fighting in a stationary manner.

Yarde needs to do something if he wants to fight for a world title. The World Boxing Organization isn’t going to keep Yarde as their number one contender for the remainder of his career without them soon tiring of him not taking his shot at the belt. When sanctioning bodies rank contenders that are reluctant to fight the champions for their titles, then they move them out of the way and find contenders that are willing to fight for a belt. Yarde needs to take his title shot already before he loses it.

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