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Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde terms agreed

Sergey Kovalev

By Mark Eisner: The purse bid for the WBO light heavyweight title fight between champion Sergey Kovalev and mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde has been canceled, as the terms for the fight have been agreed on, according to World Boxing Organization president Paco Valcarcel.

Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) will be defending his WBO 175 lb title in Russia against his unbeaten mandatory challenger Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs). The news announcement for the Kovalev-Yarde fight is expected to take place next week by Yarde’s promoter Frank Warren. The date the venue will be determined shortly.

“We’re towards the end of negotiations and I think we’ll have something to announce within the next week or so,” Warren said to

Yarde’s manager Tunde Ajayi has recently been talking about wanting the Kovalev fight in the UK. It looks like Ajayi won’t be getting the wish. Had it gone to a purse bid, Kovalev’s promoters at Top Rank likely would have won the bid, and they would stage the fight in Russia. If Yarde chose not to take the fight, he could drop out, lose his ranking, and would need to start all over again in trying to work his way to a mandatory position.

This is as good as it gets for Anthony Yarde

For Yarde, it doesn’t get than this. Kovalev is 35-years-old, not the fighter he once was, and he’s lost 3 out of his last 6 fights since 2016. Two of Kovalev’s wins have come against lesser fighters in Igor Mikhalkin and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy. The only quality win Kovalev has had in the last three years is his recent 12 round unanimous decision victory over 34-year-old Eleider Alvarez last February in Frisco, Texas.

Eleider and Andre Ward both exposed Kovalev for having stamina and punch resistance problems. Ward further showed that Kovalev can’t handle getting hit to the body for more than a few rounds before he starts wearing down. Kovalev also gets tired when he’s forced to grapple in clinches. There are a lot of ways for Yarde to beat Kovalev if he follows the blueprint that Ward created to beat him. If Yarde chose NOT to fight Kovalev, then he would need to work his way into position to fight the other 175 lb champions Dmitry Bivol, Artur Beterbiev, Marcus Browne and Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Those fighters are less flawed than Kovalev, and most of them are younger. Beterbiev, 34, is about the same age as Kovalev, but he’s not showing signs of age like he is. Beterbiev has never been fast. He’s just a very powerful fighter. The last thing that goes for a fighter is his punching power, and Beterbiev doesn’t appear to have any of that.

“We already know this guy gasses out after four rounds. We already know he can’t take body shots,” said Yarde’s manager Tunde told the Mayweather Boxing Channel. “Everything is about timing, and we’re about to shock the world. On that night…he’s [Kovalev] getting crushed. It ain’t going on points. We’re knocking the boy [Kovalev] out,” Tunde said.

Yarde has a good chance of accomplishing that goal of Tinde’s. He’s catching Kovalev at the right moment in his career, and he’s got the power, fighting style, and the youth to do the job on the 35-year-old Russian fighter.

It’s good that Yarde is taking the fight with Kovalev. Had Yarde turned it down for any reason, he would have been ridiculed by the boxing public, who would have seen this as a case of the 27-year-old being afraid of getting beaten by the much more experienced Kovalev. There’s no question that Yarde is short on experience at both the pro and amateur level to be taking on an old lion like Kovalev. There’s literally no comparison between the experience of Kovalev and Yarde. This is a fight that Yarde is going to have to win based on his punching power, aggression and youth more so than his technical boxing skills. What Yarde has going for him is his ability to attack nonstop and punch with major power that Kovalev hasn’t had to deal with during his career. Kovaelv’s recent wins against Eleider, Mikhalkin and Shabranskyy came against fighters that weren’t anywhere near as powerful as Yarde.

Eleider has some punching power, but he’s not on the level of Yarde, and he doesn’t doesn’t attack his opponents like him. Eleider was mostly boxing Kovalev in their two fights. In the seventh round in the first fight with Sergey, Eleider went after him suddenly and dropped him three times to score a 7th round knockout. But he wasn’t hitting Kovalev with big shots in the first six rounds. In the rematch, Eleider couldn’t get near Kovalev, because he was moving the whole time. Eleider wasn’t quick enough on his feet to cut off the ring on Sergey to impose his will on him. Yarde is a lot faster on his feet than Alvarez, and he’ll cut off the ring on Kovalev and force him to exchange with him in this fight. If Kovalev is going to win this fight, he’s going to need to do it in the trenches and not on the outside like in his last contest against Eleider.

Some boxing fans think Yarde will pull out of the fight with Kovalev and say that he’s injured. That doesn’t make any sense. This is the fight that Yarde wanted. He’s not going to pull out of the fight with a fake injury. Injuries do occur in boxing, but that could impact either fight. But if one of them gets injured during training camp, the fight will be postponed and rescheduled. Kovalev needs the win to get to bigger unification matches against 175 lb champions Beterbiev, Gvozdyk and Bivol. There’s also the possibility of superstar Saul Canelo Alvarez moving up to light heavyweight to challenge Kovalev for his WBO title. Kovalev needs to get Yarde out of the way first so that he can stay in the running for a lucrative pay-per-view match against Canelo Alvarez. A fight between those two would be a dual network match-up on ESPN pay-per-view and DAZN. There’s some good money for Kovalev to make against Canelo. But first, Sergey needs to defeat the hard hitting Yarde, who will be coming to take his WBO title from him.

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