Anthony Yarde wants Sergey Kovalev fight at end of 2019
By Tim Royner: Undefeated #1 WBO 175 lb contender Anthony Yarde (17-0, 16 KOs) is targeting a world title shot against WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev for later this year after he takes care of 38-year-old Travis Reeves (17-3-2, 7 KOs) this Friday, March 8 in their fight at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington, UK.
The fight will be shown on BT Sport in the UK, and streamed on ESPN+ in the U.S. The fight likely won’t go the distance. Yarde rarely uses any finesse in bum rushing his over-matched opposition, and taking them out heavy shots. You can’t question Yarde’s punching power. He can definitely punch. What you can criticize is his poor resume up until now. That could change if Yarde faces Kovalev at the end of 2019, but he might not be ready for a fighter as good as that.
It’s arguably overdue for Yarde, 27, to be fighting for a world title. If he waits too much longer, he’ll wind up with a less desirable champion once Kovalev loses his belt, which has already happened before.
Yarde will be facing Reeves in a 10 round bout in a fight that presumably is supposed to prepare him for a fight with Kovalev. Reeves is nothing like Kovalev, and it’s just not record-padding opponent for Yarde. This is a less than exciting match, but it follows a similar trend that we’ve seen with the way Yarde has been matched up since he turned pro in 2015. There’s been a failure to launch, and now he’s about to fight for a world without the needed experience that you’d like to see from a contender on the verge of fighting for a world title. Yarde’s promoter should have stepped him up against better opposition a couple of years ago, but instead been the same fodder-like opposition for him over and over again. Reeves is a similar quality opponent than Yarde’s last three opponents Walter Gabriel Sequeira, Dariusz Sek and Tony Averlant.
If Yarde does face Kovalev at the end of the year, he’s going to be dealing a different fighter that lost to Eleider Alvarez last September. Kovalev looked like a changed fighter in defeating Alvarez by a 12 round unanimous decision in their rematch last month on February 2. Kovalev has improved a great deal since the first fight with Eleider, and is boxing more instead of slugging like he used to.
“I think it [facing Kovalev] can happen this year,” Yarde said to ESPN.com. “I was offered the Kovalev fight in 2018 but my manager and promoter agreed it wasn’t the fight time for me to be challenging for a world title then.”
In hindsight, Yarde would have been better off fighting Kovalev last year than now. Kovalev was still slugging a year ago, and tiring himself and putting his chin on the lie. The Kovalev that Yarde will fighting in 2019 will be one that will stay at range and box him for 12 rounds, and make him look bad and possibly stop him. It’s a mistake on Yarde’s part not to have faced Kovalev last year.