Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (34-3-1, 29KOs) fought a good fight on Saturday. The previously unbeaten Anthony “The Beast” Yarde (18-1, 15KOs) fought bravely. He fought until he could barely lift his arms. He simply gassed out late in the fight.
Anthony Yarde showed up to fight. You could see the hunger and determination that the young fighter had. He wanted it badly, but lack of experience played a huge role, especially late in the fight. Early in the fight Yarde looked very sharp. He showcased his superior speed which was very evident from the opening bell. He was also utilizing a lot of lateral movement. As the fight wore on, Kovalev got into a good rhythm, winning the first 6 rounds on my card. The 1st round was close, but I felt Kovalev landed more consistently and controlled the tempo more.
In the 7th round, Yarde had an epiphany – “Kovalev doesn’t like getting hit to the body”. What we all knew from the start, took 7 rounds for Yarde to figure out. I think he fought too cautiously early on or simply just could not close the gap without getting relentlessly countered and hit on the way in. He had a strong 7th round, and an even stronger 8th round.
In the 8th round, Yarde absolutely rocked Kovalev with a right hand with a little under a minute to go in the round. He let off a barrage of punches, but Kovalev kept swinging, and going for the clinch. He couldn’t quite clinch enough to get the referee to break until about the last :10 seconds of the round. Kovalev fought for his life for a good :40 seconds. He survived the round, like a true champion and warrior.
In the 9th round, you could tell that Yarde was absolutely exhausted and had punched himself out. He basically took the entire round off, allowing Kovalev to recover and catch his second wind. Kovalev started mixing it up again. Jabs and straight rights upstairs, short hooks to the body. Yarde kept walking forward. Both fighters were tired but Kovalev was letting his hands go and easily securing the round.
In the 10th round, Kovalev did more of the same, having completely recovered from the close call in the 8th. Kovalev landed some big shots in the round by mixing it up to the body and head, and fighting a very smart fight. He showcased his boxing IQ and experience. Yarde was breathing heavy through his mouth, and by the end of the 10th round Yarde was taking a beating all the way to the bell ringing.
In the 11th round, Yarde was showing a lot of heart in the first minute and a half – the heart of a true warrior. He didn’t want to give up, but his legs were gone. With 1:06 left in the 11th round, Kovalev landed a stiff jab that put Yarde flat on his back. Everyone knew it was over. Yarde had nothing left in the tank. Kovalev knocked him out and the crowd went crazy. The cameras shifted to Kovalev’s mother’s reaction. She could be seen jumping for joy. It was a beautiful moment.
This is where championship experience and fights against guys who have been there before comes in handy. It was also stated before the fight, that Yarde doesn’t spar in his training camps. After this fight, he may want to rethink that strategy. Nigel Benn is said to have shared this tactic. He had a much different style than Yarde, less flashy, more calculated. Yarde and his team need to go back to the drawing board. He has natural talent, and if he just refines his skills in the gym, then he will become champion one day.
Some boxing fans really liked Yarde’s chances going into the fight. Yes, it’s true that Kovalev is on the decline, and some may even say is close to retirement. But one thing these fans clearly didn’t understand – you gotta walk before you run in boxing. You can’t go from fighting guys ranked outside the top 35 worldwide right to fighting experienced champions. It just doesn’t work that way.
Kovalev fought a good fight, but he did show weaknesses. He did show his age at times in the fight. He showed that he has a chin that is starting to weaken, and that he’s very vulnerable to body shots. It’s no wonder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (52-1-2, 35KOs) is so eager to go up two weight classes to fight Kovalev. Sergey and his team had previously turned down a potential October bout due to having to fight this mandatory bout against Yarde, who refused to take “step aside money”, rumored to be $1,000,000. Now a fight is in the works for a potential November date. Kovalev voiced that he wants the fight and we all know Canelo wants it. What do you guys think? If the fight happens, who are you picking? Why? Leave your comments below.