Anthony Yarde finally gets the fight he's been pushing for, but what chance does the Londoner have in Russia? Betfair's boxing tipster Frankie Monkhouse previews...
"The 36-year-old has lost half of his last six fights and was beaten by Eleider Alvarez on his penultimate start, suffering a stoppage loss last August"
It has been a long time coming but on Saturday evening fight fans will finally sit down to enjoy one of the most eagerly anticipated bouts of the year - Sergey Kovalev v Anthony Yarde. The Traktor Sport Palace in Chelyabinsk plays host to what promises to be a thriller as Russian Kovalev puts his WBO light heavyweight title on the line.
Kovalev remains a pound-for-pound great of the game but is fast approaching the end of what has been a glittering career. Does he have another big performance left in the tank? Anthony Yarde arrives as the unbeaten Londoner many predict will be the future of the division. Is he ready for the step up in grade or has the youngster bitten off more than he can chew?
Kovalev form suggests he is slowing
Sergey Kovalev goes into bout number 38 of his career with a record reading 33 wins against three defeats and one draw. A stunning return for the man from Kopeysk who now bases himself in Florida but a closer look at his CV suggest he is slowing. The 36-year-old has lost half of his last six fights and was beaten by Eleider Alvarez on his penultimate start, suffering a stoppage loss last August. Three defeats in six doesn't look great on paper and will encourage followers of Team Yarde to back their man, but the fact two of those came against the great Andre Ward makes them easy to forgive.
Since losing back-to-back fights vs S.O.G, points in 2016 and stopped 2017, Krusher has won three of his four comeback bouts. He scored impressive wins over Vyancheslav Shabranskyy (19-1-0) and Igor Mikhalkin (21-1-0), getting rid of both inside the distance, before suffering a shock loss to Colombian Eleider Alvarez in Atlantic City last summer. That was a result that threatened to end his career but Kovalev proved his quality when bouncing back to level the score in a February rematch, beating Storm by a unanimous decision.
Punters appear happy to lend their support to the current champion and users of the Betfair Exchange will find the Russian priced up as [1.64] jolly. That may attract the attention of casual boxing fans looking to build a fight night accumulator, but there's more to be had for those bold enough to predict the method of victory. Kovalev to register a 29th career knockout win is evens, a second points cheer on the bounce available at 7/2 - both taken from the Betfair Sportsbook.
Yarde finally gets his shot
Anthony Yarde finally gets the fight he has been pushing for. The talented Londoner jets to Russia with a professional record reading 18 wins from as many starts, 17 of those victories coming by way of knockout. He's one of the hottest properties in British boxing but knows Saturday is his chance to move from contender to champion, living up to the hype. Yarde is the form fighter of the two but this represents a major leap up in class from what the Brit is used to.
The Hackney born puncher got off the mark with a stoppage win over journeyman Mitch Mitchell at Wembley back in 2015 and has done nothing but progress since. He won the southern area title in only his 11th start and quickly followed that with a win over Richard Baranyi that earned him the European title. Yarde was last seen halting American Travis Reeves (17-3-2) at the Royal Albert Hall back in March in a bout that can only be described as a warm-up for this challenge. Anthony got the job done that night but knows Saturday will be a much tougher test.
Critics of Yarde say he hasn't fought an opponent of real note and will be found out when stepping onto the main stage. It's true he has been fast-tracked through the division but that's down to his power and winning form. Yarde has always found lively opponents difficult to nail down, meaning he had to bypass the domestic route. Going from an opponent of Travis Reeves' level to Sergey Kovalev is almost unheard of. Will the gamble pay off? The Brit is [2.68] on the Betfair Exchange to upset the party, with another KO/TKO trading at 21/10 on the Sportsbook.