By Doug Berman: Sergey Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs) took care of business in successfully defending his WBO light heavyweight title with an 11th round knockout win over Anthony Yarde (18-1, 17 KOs) on Saturday night on + at the Traktor Sport Palace, in Chelyabinsk, Russia. Kovalev laid Yarde out with a left jab in the 11th round to retain his WBO 175-lb title.

After the match, Kovalev said he’s ready to face Saul Canelo Alvarez if he comes up weight to face him. Canelo (52-1-2, 35 KOs) was in negotiations recently to challenge Kovalev, but they were unable to put the fight together. What stopped the fight from being made was Yarde, 28, not agreeing to the $1 million step aside fee that was offered to him to move aside. As the WBO mandatory, Yarde was guaranteed a title shot against Kovalev. The ordered the fight, and it left Kovalev no choice.

Kovalev calls out Canelo Alvarez

“I am happy,” said Kovalev after his stoppage win over Yarde. “I fought in front of my fans. Hopefully my next fight will be against Canelo. He’s strong,” said Kovalev about Yarde. “He had a good IQ. Good defense. He has not enough experience. I won by experience. I can’t lose anymore. Right now, I’ve got the right training camp, and the right life. 100 percent,” said Kovalev when asked if Yarde will win a world title in the future.

Canelo will have a tough time dealing with the size, power and the skills of the six-foot Kovalev. After the way Kovalev looked tonight, Canelo might have second thoughts about challenging him for his title. The 5”8″ Canelo would be giving away a lot of size to Kovalev, and he would be taking a big risk against him.

Yarde: I lost based on experience

“Experience proved a big part,” said Yarde after the fight. “I felt like he [Kovalev] paced himself a little bit better. I know I hurt him to the body. And, I thought I should go for it. My corner said go for it. I felt the same way. I went for it. You can tell he’s very experienced. I’m very ambitious, and I’m not ashamed. I’m very upset. I wasn’t victorious today. I did myself justice. In my mind I’m always going to think I could have done better. Even coming out here. 99% of the people wouldn’t have done what I did. Early in the fight I was very confident. Again, experience played a big part. What got me through was my heart. I’m very inexperienced at this level, but I was going for it, so no one can knock us,” said Yarde.

Yarde might have lost the fight to Kovalev even if he had the experience. With the kind of power, size and pedigree that Kovalev had, Yarde would have problems regardless.

Yarde not proud about loss to Kovalev

“We were taking a risk. We’re trying to motivate people who aren’t brave enough to go do things,” said Yarde. “I’m not a person that likes to get hit. I have a bruised eye. I can feel it. I’m never going to say I was good enough. I’m going to go back to the drawing board. There are probably some technical things I need to work on. We’ve got to work extremely hard, and harder if we can learn from the experience. I’m not proud. I didn’t win the fight.

I’m not one of those dudes that makes excuses. If I didn’t do as good as I wanted to, I’m not going to say I done well. I’ not that kind of person. I went for it. A lot of people don’t go for things, because they’re scared they’re going to fail,” said Yarde.

Yarde needs to start fighting contenders, and perhaps get a new trainer if he wants to advance. He doesn’t spar, and he’s not been fighting contenders. You can’t expect to go far in the sport if you’re fighting second and third tier opposition the way Yarde has. To compound that problem, Yarde doesn’t spar. So, when he ran into problems tonight, he lacked the sparring to get him through his tough times with Kovalev.


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