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Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde fight looking doubtful

Sergey Kovalev

By Tim Royner: Anthony Yarde’s manager Tunde Ajayi is reportedly not interested in having his fighter face WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in his hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia. Yarde, 27, could make more money if he were to fight Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) in Russia.

If the fight doesn’t take place there, Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs) might wind up with a smaller purse split of 75/25. If the fight gets made, it’ll take place on June 1 on ESPN+.

Kovalev’s promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events has asked the World Boxing Organization to order an immediate purse bid to take place next Monday, as she’s had no progress in putting the fight together with Yarde’s management.

“Don’t think you can rush Tunde Ajayi. Everything I do is for Yarde so never think I’ll advise him to fight in Russia. No amount of money can make it happen, I don’t care who you spoke to,” said Yarde’s manager Tunde Ajayi via Michael Benson’s Twitter.

As the mandatory challenger, Yarde isn’t in the position to dictate terms to Kovalev and his management about when and where the fight the fight will take place, if they fail to win the purse bid. If Yarde’s management wins the purse bid next week, then it’s a different story. The question is, will they?

If Kovalev’s promoter Kathy Duva wins the purse bid next week, it’s going to put Yarde’s management in the position of deciding whether they want to take the fight or not. Yarde won’t be able to dictate terms if his promoter loses the purse bid to Main Events. If Yarde turns down the fight with Kovalev, then he won’t be the WBO mandatory, and it’ll be the end of story. It’s unclear whether that’s what Yarde and his team wants or what, but he’ll no longer be the World Boxing Organization mandatory if his management lose the purse bid, and he refuses to take the fight. It would be disappointing, because this is what a lot of boxing have been saying since the WBO ordered Kovalev-Yarde fight negotiations. A lot of the fans have been predicting that Yarde would back out of the negotiations for one reason or another, and then go back to fighting the same level of opposition that he’s been facing since he turned pro in 2015.

Duva has been in negotiations with Yarde’s team for the last two weeks, trying to put the fight together since it was ordered by WBO, but without any luck, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN. She wants the fight to take place in Kovalev’s hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia, even though he now lives in the United States in Los Angeles, California. Unable to put the fight together, Duva has asked the WBO to schedule a purse bid next Monday.

It’s going to be just as much of a mountain for Yarde to climb in fighting Kovalev even if the fight were to be staged in the United States rather than Russia. If Yarde’s management are hoping that Kovalev will come over to England and defend there, they’re going to be sadly mistaken if they don’t win the purse bid.

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