By Allan Fox: WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev weighed in successfully at 174.6 pounds on Friday for his mandatory defense against highly motivated Anthony Yarde on Saturday night on ESPN+ and BT Sport 2 at the Traktor Sport Palace, in Chelyabinsk, Russia. A smiling Yarde, 28, weighed in at 174 pounds, and looked relaxed and ready. During the face off, both fighters were laughing. They looked more like friends that adversaries.
Start time and live stream information for Kovalev vs. Yarde card
For being a visitor, Yarde appeared not worried at all in being in an unfamiliar environment. Unlike former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, who seemed uncomfortable in fighting away from home, Yarde was undisturbed. Of course, this doesn’t mean Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs) will win the fight on Saturday night, because he’s still facing a formidable task in going up against the well-experienced Kovalev.
At least Yarde doesn’t need to worry about being overly nervous going into the fight. He focus on his game plan, and hope to beat Kovalev with his Mike Tyson-eque pressure fighting.
Yarde has never fought anyone as good as Kovalev
This is fight that is tough to gauge due to Yarde’s inexperience. His management have kept him in the slow lane since he turned pro in 2015. He’s not had a step up opponent to get him properly ready for this encounter. We don’t know who Yarde has been sparring with in camp, but it’s probably no one near as good as Kovalev.
A young George Foreman beat the more experienced Joe Frazier in 1973 despite never having fought anyone in his class, so it’s possible Yarde can pull off an upset. In Foreman’s case, he was a 1968 Olympic gold medalist. He wasn’t a guy with just 12 amateur fights taking on Frazier. If Yarde is going to win on Saturday, he’ll need to do it based on pure physical power, and a high pressure style. He can’t let Kovalev get space to box, and move around the ring. If Kovalev can do that, it’s going to be a long night for Yarde.
Several years ago, Kovalev was considered the #1 light heavyweight on the planet. That all came crashing down when he was beaten by Andre Ward by a 12 round decision in 2016.
“I am thrilled to fight for the first time in my hometown of Chelyabinsk,” Kovalev said. “It is a dream to defend my WBO title in front of all my friends and family back home. I am also thankful ESPN+ will show the fight to my fans in the U.S.
Kovalev has past wins over Jean Pascal, Bernard Hopkins, Eleider Alvarez and Nathan Cleverly. Yarde’s best victories have come against Travis Reeves, Richard Baranyi and Nikola Sjekloca.