PREVIEW: Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev vs Anthony Yarde


(image: Top Rank)


Out of all fights previewed and on this weekend’s slate, the WBO Light Heavyweight title matchup between Russia’s Champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (33-3-1 28 KO’s) and Britain’s mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde (18-0 17 KOs), figures to be the most evenly signed fight. The event takes place at the Traktor Arena in Chelyabinsk, Russia live on ESPN+ at around 11:30am our time.


The buildup has treated fans to some competitive banter between both camps. Especially from Kovalev, who fights at home for the first time in his professional career.

“I will show who is the boss here,” he told BT Sports. “, He can say everything he wants. But to say and do is two different things. I’m already mad with guys like him. He will pay for everything he posted and said. He’s just a kid, not a lion. A little kitten. A small kitten.”

Undefeated Anthony Yarde was not as vicious in his retort.


(video: Top Rank)


“The vibration I’m getting is that he doesn’t really want to fight me.” Yarde told the same media outlet. “, This guy has only had 18 professional fights, he only had 12 amateur fights and I’m a future Hall of Famer, I can’t let this kid come and beat me. But that’s what’s going to happen.”


(video: Top Rank)


The buildup has been entertaining. The main question everyone wants answered, Is Kovalev at 36 years old, further removed from his prime than Yarde is from his peak? The classic really good old fighter vs the really good young fighter. With fight night a mere day away from providing an answer, lets take a look and examine each fighters strengths and weaknesses.


(video: Top Rank)


WBO Champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev

From: Kopeysk, Russia Age: 36

Record: 33-3-1 28KO’s Height: 6’

Reach: 72.5” Stance: Orthodox

STRENGTHS


POWER: Sergey is nicknamed “Krusher” for a reason. He’s krushed all but 5 of his wins by knockout. Good for a 76% KO finishing rate. Impressive. As the level of competition rises, the ko’s are harder to come by.


Technical Boxer: To simply label Kovalev strictly a power puncher would be an oversimplification. He can box with the best of them. Very fast/stiff jab, great footwork and has gone through a who’s who of opponents. There’s a reason he reigned supreme in the Light Heavyweight division for years.


Home Turf: For the first time in his career, Sergey will be fighting in his native Russia. A great reward long overdue. The edge hometown fans can give, not to mention the benefit on the home scorecards, is a definite mental advantage.


WEAKNESSES


Relaxes after Jabbing: Very often Kovalev shoots the sharp jab of his and follows it up by relaxing. Does not bring his hand up back to defend. Eleider Alvarez noticed that and dropped Kovalev in the seventh round and eventually finished Kovalev. One of Yardes best punches is his straight right. Should Kovalev lose focus for a split second, Yarde might have his opening.


Body Shots: In what I’m calling a scumbag move by an ex trainer, Kovalevs former cornerman John David Jackson, among other things exposed a major Kovalev flaw.

He said, “I was doing some body work on Sergey, I made him fold up. I’m 54 years old and he couldn’t take it. I told Don, if Ward can get inside, withstand his early shots then he (Sergey) is in trouble and that is what happened, he proved me right.”


Very trashy move by a disgruntled ex-trainer, but nonetheless Kovalev is a bit soft around the solarplex. A few well-placed body shots by the great Andre Ward in the rematch secured Wards win. (Probably a huge reason why Canelo Alvarez is hell-bent moving up 2 divisions to face Kovalev should he win Saturday.)


(image: Top Rank)


Challenger Anthony Yarde

From: London, United Kingdom Age: 28

Record: 18-0 17 KO’s Height: 6’

Reach: Not listed Stance: Orthodox

STRENGTHS


Natural Counter Puncher: Yarde is a natural counter puncher. Always looking for an opponent to engage first so he can time a counter. Most times he’ll stall the action just waiting to strike.


Quick Twitch Muscles: All boxers in general have good reflexes in the same manner all soccer players know how to kick a ball. It’s part of participating in the sport. Yardes reflexes stand out. Very quick to connect and maneuver out of danger. Part of the reason he likes to counter punch so much.


Very Deceptive: When not countering, he sneaks his punches in very well. He’ll paw multiple times with a jab at opponents lead hand to land a sharp right cross. Also, he’ll set up his guard, twerk his body as to appear a left is coming and instead shoots from the opposite hand. Sneaky sneaky.


WEAKNESSES


No one on his resume even remotely compares to Kovalev. When I first watched his tape, Yarde looked phenomenal! Until I took a closer look. A lot of Yardes past opponent’s hover around the 30% KO range. The highest opponents were two club fighters in the low 50’s with very little skill. Yarde even shared the ring alongside guys deep into their pro careers, with ZERO knockouts. He’s been very carefully maneuvered by his promoter to build up a fan base. He looks the part, but there’s a sense going around that maybe he’s biting off more than he can chew. Instead of gradually facing tougher opponents,


Yarde wants to face the Final Boss without acquiring the needed Level Ups or in this case sharpening of skills. Bouts with either Jesse Hart, Eleider Alvarez, Blake Caparello or anyone hovering around the top 10 of Light Heavyweights would have done wonders to the young lion. Instead he rushes in headfirst facing one of the best fighters this era produced.


(image: Top Rank)


THE PICK


Much has been made about Sergey Kovalevs two losses to Andre Ward. Critics tear Kovalev down and in the same breath glorify Andre Ward. Both fighters are Canastota bound. (Hall of Fame) Simply put, Andre Ward was the superior fighter in part two and very controversially won part one. Recently, Kovalev avenged his 3rd loss by dominating Eleidar Alvarez in their rematch this past February. Father time remains undefeated but Kovalev still has enough juice to tame the young Challenger. As I touched on earlier, Yarde is biting off more than he can chew. The string of tough losses for UK fighters continues. Krusher Kovalev by Unanimous Decision!


· Article written by:

· Manuel “Hopper” Dominguez

· @ManuelDStayTru

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