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Hearn: “Yarde shouldn’t be boxing Kovalev”

Sergey Kovalev boxing photo and news image

By Trevor McIntyre: Promoter Eddie Hearn believes #1 WBO contender Anthony Yarde shouldn’t be fighting WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev due to his inexperience against world level fighters. Hearn feels there was a mistake made in Yarde, 27, not having the right preparation to get to the position he’s in right now in being the mandatory for Kovalev’s WBO belt.

Unfortunately, now that the World Boxing Organization has ordered the Kovalev-Yarde fight negotiations to begin, Hearn says Yarde will need to take the fight if he doesn’t want his credibility in the boxing world to be absolutely smashed to bits. If Yarde backs out now and he says he doesn’t want the title shot against Kovalev, he’s going to look bad in the eyes of the fans, according to Hearn. Hearn says Yarde should have picked up experience at the domestic level first against the likes of Hosea Burton and Joshua Buatsi BEFORE looking to go the world title route to get a crack at a champion like Kovalev. Hearn does note that Kovalev, 35, is on the downside of his career, but he’s still vastly more experienced that Yarde, and leagues above.

Earlier this month, the WBO ordered negotiations to begin between Kovalev and Yarde. The purse bid deadline is on April 12.

”The problem with Yarde is, this is why his match-making has been poor is he’s never been in with anyone that was top 15 in the world with that ability,” Hearn said to Fighthype about Yarde being on the verge of challenging Kovalev. ”So how do you go from someone like Travis Reeves to Kovalev? The answer is you don’t, and Frank [Warren] knows it…He knows Yarde shouldn’t be boxing Kovalev, but unfortunately they avoided the domestic route and got the WBO European [belt], and kept defending it. Now they find themselves Kovalev’s mandatory. So what do you do? If you don’t take the fight, you’re going to look bad in everyone’s eyes,” Hearn said.

Hearn brings up up some good points. Yarde is going to be heavily criticized by boxing fans if he backs out of the Kovalev fight at this point. His ranking with the WBO will drop, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he loses his top 15 ranking altogether. Two years ago, Yarde won the World Boxing Organisation European light heavyweight title in stopping Richard Baranyi in the first round. That title is one that set Yarde on course to quickly climb the world rankings with the WBO organization to eventually get the #1 ranking with them. However, Yarde got the ranking without facing the tough domestic level fighters like Buatsi and Burton. Yarde defended the WBO European 175 lb title a number of times against beatable opposition, that were nowhere world level. Yarde looked good in those fights, but he was facing opposition that was nowhere near the world level.

“I don’t necessarily blame him for not taking the fight, but after everything that’s been said and done, they should take the fight,” Hearn said about Yarde. “You can’t say, ‘we’re going down the world round,’ and get there and say, ‘no.’ This is where they should have boxed Hosea Burton or Joshua Buatsi. If you beat those guys, then you’re ready for Kovalev. He’ll [Yarde] will be crushed if he don’t take that fight [with Kovalev]. It’ll kill his profile, and it’ll kill his credibility. I wouldn’t even blame Yarde [if he didn’t fight Kovalev], because he hasn’t fought the right fighters. They’ve said this is what they want to do. So now they’re going to have to do it. If you’re not going to fight Buatsi, then how are you going to fight Kovalev? I hope he beats Kovalev, because then the Yarde-Buatsi fight is a massive one in the UK,” Hearn said.

Buatsi would have been a real nightmare for Yarde. It’s not surprising that Yarde wasn’t matched against that fighter, because the outcome likely would have been a bad one for him. Kovalev has got to be looking forward to fight the inexperienced Yarde. That’s not to say that Yarde doesn’t have a chance of winning. He hits hard, he’s young, and he could pull off the upset if he can get Kovalev in a war of attrition early. Yarde’s best chance of beating Kovalev is to go after him right away instead of waiting. Kovalev is focusing more on boxing now, and he’s going to want to stay on the outside and box Yarde the way he did in his last fight against Eleider Alvarez in February. Kovalev’s stamina and punch resistance problems makes him vulnerable even against a fighter like Yarde, but he’ll still be a heavy favorite to win that fight.

If Yarde loses to Kovalev, then his promoter can start from scratch and build him back up the right way by having him go the domestic route slowly over the next three years, and then have him come back to the world level at 30. Yarde is still young enough to retool his game, and pick up the needed experience for him to compete against world level boxers. Whether that’ll happen or not is up to his management.

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