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Boxing results: Kovalev stops Yarde

Sergey Kovalev Anthony Yarde Kovalev vs. Yarde

By Barry Holbrook: WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) survived a rough eighth round to come back to stop mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde (18-1, 17 KOs) in the 11th round on Saturday night at the Traktor Sport Palace, in Chelyabinsk, Russia. Referee Luis Pabon stopped the fight officially at 2:04 of round 11.


Anthony Yarde’s mind was willing but his flesh was weak

Yarde came close to pulling off a major upset in the eighth round in this drama-filled bout. After being out-boxed in the first seven rounds, Yarde hurt Kovalev and had him on the brink of defeat. It wasn’t to be though. Yarde depleted his gas tank after eight rounds, and Kovalev took over the fight in the ninth and cruised to victory.


In the 11th, Kovalev nailed Yarde with a hard jab to knock him out. By this time in the fight, Yarde was exhausted and hurt from the punishment he’d absorbed in the 10th round. The 28-year-old Yarde had nothing left after round eight. That was the round in which he had hurt Kovalev.

Kovalev’s slow pace kept Yarde in the fight

Kovalev fought tentatively in the first six rounds, and failed to go after the British fighter Yarde. It appeared that Kovalev was giving Yarde too much respect by not going after him the way he’d done against most of his opponents during his 10-year pro career. By taking it easy and fighting at a slow pace, Kovalev allowed Yarde to stay in the fight, and make rounds close with his eye-catching power shots.

Yarde enjoyed the hand speed advantage, and this enabled him to catch Kovalev with shots when he could come forward on occasion to throw his telegraphed punches. Instead of going after Yarde with a storm of shots early on, Kovalev fought like he was walking on eggshells.

Kovalev’s trainer Buddy McGirt was telling him to box, and not attack. It appeared that McGirt was concerned with Serey gassing out like he’d done in his losses to Andre Ward and Eleider Alvarez. Kovalev did enough to win the majority of the first six rounds, but he was far from dominating. Kovalev was still taking shots, and it was impossible to know how the judges were scoring the fight. Although Kovalev was seemingly in control of the fight with his jab, Yarde’s speedy power shots were hard to ignore. It was like watching the replay of the first Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin fight. The judges in that fight ignored GGG’s jabs, and focused on Canelo’s cleaner landing power shots.

Yarde had Kovalev close to being stopped in eighth

Things began to unravel for Kovalev in the seventh round when Yarde started to connect with hard body shots, and punches to the head. Suddenly, Kovalev began to look exhausted, old and spent. The punishment continued unabated in the eighth round with Yarde teeing off on the old lion Kovalev with nonstop power shots, and the fight looked close to being stopped. Trainer Buddy McGirt warned Kovalev after round eight that he was going to halt the contest if he continued to take a beating in the ninth round. It was the right thing for McGirt to say to Kovalev because he was getting hit too much. Kovalev had lost it in the same way he did in his defeats to Andre Ward and Eleider Alvarez. The only difference is that Yarde was unable to finish the job.

Kovalev turns the tables in 10th round

Yarde’s decision to go for broke gunning for a knockout in the eighth, came back to haunt him after he gassed. Kovalev took over the fight, and hurt Yarde in the 10th round with a storm of shots. Sensing weakness in his hurt opponent, Kovalev went all out trying to finish off Yarde, but the undefeated challenger just narrowly made it through the round.

As the bell sounded at the end of the 10th, Yarde looked like he was teetering about to all. Kovalev couldn’t miss with his big right hands in the closing seconds of the round, and it a miracle that Yarde didn’t go down. The shots that Yarde took in the 10th would have stopped most light heavyweights, but he took them somehow and made it out of the round. It was clear by the end of the round, Yarde was defenseless, and wasn’t going to last much longer. Yarde’s trainer arguably should have stopped the fight after the 10th, but he chose to let him come out of the 11th for one last go of it.

Yarde finished in 11th by Kovalev

In the 11th round, Kovalev, 36, connected with a nice jab to the head of Yarde that put him the floor. The referee Luis Pabon then moved in and stopped the fight. Yarde didn’t try and hold his way through the round the way that he should have, and ha paid the price.

With the win under his belt, Kovalev could be facing Saul Canelo Alvarez in November. That’ll be a huge fight for Kovalev. It might not be a big deal for Canelo, but it’ll give him a chance to capture a fourth division world title. Canelo has previously won belts at 154, 160 and 168. Kovalev is clearly the weakest of the champions at 175 right now, and Canelo obviously is picking for that reason. The way that Kovalev looked tonight, he would have lost against the other champions at 175. He’s not the same fighter he once was.

ESPN+ will stream LIVE Kovalev vs Yarde from Russia beginning at 12:30 pm ET/9:30 am PT

Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde early undercard results from the Traktor Sport Palace, in Chelyabinsk, Russia:

Ilunga Makabu MD 12 Aleksei Papin
Evgeny Romanov TKO 1 Dario German Balmaceda
Azizbek Abdugofurov TKO 4 Gasan Gasanov
Akzhol Sulaimanbek KO2 Uulu Milner Marcano
Erzhan Turgumbekov UD 10 Heorhii Lashko
Enriko Gogokhia TKO 2 Rafik Harutjunjan

 

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