It was always going to be a huge ask for Anthony Yarde to head to Sergey Kovalev’s backyard and come away with the victory, but despite the odds being heavily stacked against the Brit, Yarde and his trainer Tune Ajayi remained confident from the minute the bout was announced.
It wasn’t to be Yarde’s night, however, as Kovalev used all his experience to put on a display befitting of a champion, with the referee calling a halt to the fight in the 11th.
Kovalev, 36, put his WBO Light Heavyweight title on the line against Yarde, who is eight years his junior. Many felt heading into the bout that Yarde would look to use his age to his advantage, trying to lay traps for Kovalev and then using his speed to counter, but from the very first bell, Kovalev was the commanding presence.
Sound Boxing Strategy
Working his jab nicely, Kovalev was catching Yarde far too easily in the opening rounds, and while Yarde seemed happy to shrug off the incoming shots, they were bound to catch up with him further into the bout. As rounds went by, although Yarde was throwing well, it was Kovalev who was on top, and right up until the eighth many will have had the Russian as the winner of every round.
For all Kovalev’s greatness, and his 11th round stoppage which we will come on to in due course, the eighth round was all about Yarde. The Brit took advantage of the 36-year-old tiring and launched an onslaught of shots as he looked to stop Kovalev. The Russian was certainly hurt and in real trouble, but despite a barrage of blows coming his way, he held firm, with Yarde’s chance of victory all but over.
Business As Usual
Many expect Yarde to come out in the ninth and really take it to Kovalev again, a man who looked to be exhausted, especially after the defending champion’s trainer issued a warning to his fighter that he would pull him out if he took another big shot. However, after coming so close to a shock defeat, Kovalev seemed to gain his second wind, and Yarde was once again on the backfoot.
It was in the eleventh where Kovalev really came alive, and after sensing that Yarde was spent in the tenth, it seemed the Russian was priming himself to finish off his opponent in style. Yarde kept coming forward, regardless of Kovalev’s dominance, but in doing so walked onto a jab and was sent spiralling to the floor.
Yarde Still Has Time
Yarde will come away proud of his performance in many aspects, and rightfully so, but after earmarking Kovalev’s jab as a dangerous weapon in the Russian’s arsenal, he’ll be disappointed he allowed Kovalev to use it so effectively to control the bout and to finish it. It will be onwards and upwards for both fighters, with Kovalev still one of the best around, and plenty more years for Yarde to achieve his ambitions.