Sergey Kovalev and Anthony Yarde have agreed to terms
By Charles Brun: WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev and mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde have agreed to terms for a fight in Russia in September, says Kovalev’s co-promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Boxing. The fight had previously been agreed on to take place on the 29th of June.
Arum still isn’t sure if there will be any further problems in the negotiations, but he’s hopeful the fight can finally get made in September in Russia. Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) is 36-years-old now, and he can’t afford to be get tied down negotiating endlessly with one of his mandatory challengers, especially one that appears to be an easy fight for him. Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs) would likely lose to some of the fighters that Kovalev has beaten recently in Igor Mikhalkin, Eleider Alvarez and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy.
Kovalev vs. Yarde fight has good chance of happening
“We had a meeting today. We have an agreement that the fight will be held in Russia in September,” said Arum to IFL TV about the Kovalev vs. Yarde fight. “We had a meeting in my office with Kovalev’s promoter and his manager Egis Klimis and with Frank Warren. We’re going to sign a new contract.”
The best thing Yarde has going for him is his punching power, but Kovalev is arguably even more powerful. Kovalev is a better boxer, and far more mobile than Yarde. Kovalev’s new trainer Buddy McGirt has changed his fighting style back to the way he used to fight as an amateur in boxing, and stay at range. Kovalev is hard to hit now, and he’s too good of a boxer for a fighter that relies on their power like Yarde does.
Kovalev taking a step down in competition
This fight is arguably a huge step down for Kovalev from his last two matches against Eleider Alvarez. Yarde, 27, has no experience against world level opposition as a pro, and he doesn’t have the amateur experience either. The only things Yarde has going for him is his punching power and youth. That’s it.
If Yarde can’t get to Kovalev’s chin or to his body, he’s sunk. Yarde struggled in fights against journeyman Tony Averlant and Travis Reeves. He didn’t look good against Darius Sek either. It’s unclear why Yarde’s management has never put him in with any of the talented fighters in the 175-pound division.
At some point along the line, you can argue that Yarde should have been stepped up against the likes of Sullivan Barrera, Marcus Browne, Callum Johnson, Badou Jack, Joshua Buatsi, Felix Varera, Isaac Chilemba, Joe Smith Jr., Karo Murat, Jean Pascal, Meng Fanlong, Mike Lee or Blake Caparello. Yarde should have fought at least one of those guys to get him ready to fight for a world title.
The fact that Yarde’s best opponent on his four-year pro resume is 38-year-old Travis Reeves is more than a little troubling. There’s been a complete failure to launch with Yarde. Of course, this is how some fighters are brought along though. Their management puts them in with soft jobs exclusively so that they can look good, build up an impressive record. The sanctioning bodies often respond by giving a high ranking to those fighters.
Unfortunately more often than not, when the fighter with the padded record gets in put in with a world champion, they get blown out of the water quickly. The reason for that is obvious. They lack the experience to be fighting at a the upper levels of their divisions. They even lack the experence to fight at the bottom of the top tier.
Yarde appears to be one of those guys. He has no experience at all against upper level fighters, and now he’s poised to fight one of the best fighters in the 175 pound division in Kovalev. It looks bad for Yarde. He’ll need to get to Kovalev as early as possible in this fight for him to win. Andre Ward had success against Kovalev by wrestling him to a state of exhaustion in their first fight in 2016, and then hitting him with low blows in their second fight. Using those tactics might not work for Yarde, because Kovalev moves too much now, and he’s not as easy to hit or grab.
If Yarde wants to turn the into a wrestling match the way Ward did in the first fight with Kovalev, he’ll need to chase him down to try and grab him. It would look bad if Yarde tries those tricks, because it’s not interesting to watch for fans. Ward was obviously at the end of his career, and he was no longer the fast guy with nimble feed that he’d been back in 2010 and 2011.
You can understand why Ward wanted to clinch nonstop with Kovalev, and rough him up with low blows. But Yarde doesn’t have to use those tactics, considering that he’s in the prime of his career. He’s still at 100% of his prime. Besides, those tactics probably won’t work, because Kovalev has a good trainer now, and he’ll adapt to being grabbed nonstop or hit with repeated low blows. The fight will be taking place in Russia, and it’s unlikely that Yarde will get away with hitting Kovalev with low blows the way Ward did.
Kovalev has lost a little from his game
It’s clear from watching Kovalev’s recent fights that he’s not the same fighter that dominated his opposition five to seven years ago. Kovalev’s punch resistance isn’t the greatest, as we saw in his fights with Ward and Eleider Alvarez. However, Kovalev adjusted well in the rematch with Alvarez out-boxed him from the outside with the help of his new trainer McGirt. It’s a new Kovalev now. He’s got the experience on his side, along with his punching power and mobility. Yarde has a chance of winning of Kovalev forgets his game plan, and decide to start winging huge power shots.
Kovalev could obviously knockout Yarde if he connects with something big, but he’ll be at risk of gassing out or getting clipped. The determining factor for whether Kovalev beats Yarde will come down to how well he listens to his trainer McGirt, and follows his instructions. If Kovalev thinks he knows better, then he’ll forget McGirt and go back to his old slugging style of fighting. That style has worked well for him, but it’s also left him vulnerable against better fighters like Ward and Alvarez.