Jon Uddin gives his prediction for Saturday’s WBO Light-Heavyweight Title fight between Sergey Kovalev and Anthony Yarde.
Under new trainer Buddy McGirt, Sergey Kovalev has stepped back from playing his usual bully role, where he seemed fully focused on breaking his opponent down with his power until he delivered a knockout. In his second fight with Eleider Alvarez, he got back to boxing more, delivering a steady diet of 1-2 combinations then getting out of the way of any return fire.
The tweaks McGirt has made in Kovalev’s gameplan have come just in time for what is most likely the home stretch for the WBO Light Heavyweight Champions career. At 36, Kovalev isn’t the fighter he was a few years ago, but he is still a formidable opponent, and he is light years ahead of anything his 28 year old opponent Anthony Yarde has seen in his career so far.
There’s been 18 fights in five years for the British Light Heavyweight since he hit the pro scene, and the only one to hear the final bell was in his second fight, a four rounder. None of the others made it to the scorecards, nor did they provide the resistance to really challenge Yarde as they all eventually succumbed to his power.
Now, Yarde finally takes his step up. A d it’s a huge step as he is going into enemy territory to face the champion, and doing so as Kovalev himself appears to have found a bit of a rebirth. Yarde is now at the highest level, he’s up against someone who will push him to the fullest, see how well he can take a shot, test his conditioning, and make him fight. Add the element of the crowd and it doesn’t get much tougher than this.
PREDICTION: It seems a bit more people are picking Yarde to pull off the big upset in this one. Even with Kovalev bouncing back to dominate Alvarez his last time out, I wonder if the images of him fading in deep waters in his second fight with Ward and first fight with Alvarez are making many believe the younger fresher Yarde can bring enough heat to do the same.
It’s not out of the question that Yarde could land a shot that takes Kovalev out of it and leave Russia victorious, but I do believe that’s the only way he does it. The combination of fighting in Russia and a big money fight awaiting against Canelo Alvarez if Kovalev wins makes it impossible for me to picture Yarde winning on the cards.
That being said, I am taking the levels and experience Kovalev and his trainer Buddy McGirt are bringing to the ring over Yarde and his team. I think Kovalev outboxes Yarde into the second half of the fight when he begins to turn it up a notch and really begin to break him down in the late rounds.
Sergey Kovalev TKO 10 over Anthony Yarde