Kovalev a slight favorite to retain belt

WBO world light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) is only a slight favorite over mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs) when they clash Saturday night in Chelyabinsk, Russia live on ESPN+ and BT Sport 2.

The 36-year-old hometown hero Kovalev is a -157 favorite while Yarde backers can get +143. For Kovalev, it’s his first defense since regaining the title from Eleider Alvarez. The largely unproven Yarde, 28, is coming off a TKO5 against Travis Reeves.

See the final press conference (Mostly in Russian, but there are some English parts).

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    • He’ll get KO’d in 5 by KOva, mate. Yarde’s been fighting Hungarian nobodies for long enough, time for him to eat breakfast starting with the chip on his shoulder. No movement, nothing, he’s flat as a pancake, and I’ll remember your comment when Kova decks him in RD4.

      • None of the last 5 opponents of Yarde was Hungarian but yes, the Kov fight is a big step up for him.

        Yarde has power and speed in both hands. He will force Kov to be careful and box.

        Yarde’s weaknesses: he often drops his left hand and has limited foot work, and of course very limited experience. Kov will be able to time him and hit him, but Yarde is technically good, hungry and has explosive power. Yarde is in his prime, Kov a shell of his former self before the Ward fights. Yarde is a good inside fighter and if he can hit Kov early on, it will be a good fight. Kov has an excellent jab and right hand, which should worry Yarde.

        Last not least, one major factor here is that the fight will be in Russia, which favors Kov.

        A Yarde KO win would not surprise me, but I think everyone would agree that Kov still has enough in the tank to take Yarde out. The only thing I am certain of is that it will be an interesting fight.

        • What makes you think Kovo is a shell of himself? He did not take Alvarez seriously, and got his head rocked. However he came right back to dominate him. Too many fight folks start saying things like shell of himself or washed up when a fighter loses. he got beat by a better fighter in Ward. He had an off moment against Alvarez. He paid for it. That doesn’t mean he’s washed up or a shell of himself.

          • Canyada: I actually agree with all your points. When I wrote that Kov is a “shell of his former self”, I meant the following: 1/ he is physically not what he was several years ago and 2/ there are signs that his last KO loss to Ward had some psychological effect.

            Kov is not a washed up fighter by any means, but he has hit his peak years ago, and his aura of invincibility is gone, as well as some of his speed and internal conviction. Kov is in the last stage of his boxing career and not the beast anymore he was in the past. I think you will agree with that, even if our wording may be a bit different.

            Yarde is explosive and has not only the potential to win and retire Kov, but to knock him out badly. It will be a good fight. I wish both of them well…..

  • The one that will fight Yarde is not longer the crusher before Ward, is just a shell of that. Capable to score a quick and impressive KO, but fragile and vulnerable enough to be defeated again by KO. I think Yarde has what it takes to do it, just a bit of determination and the right game plan, could give him the biggest win of his boxing career and send Kovalev into retirement. I believe we are about to see a new player in the light heavyweight division

  • With only 12 amateur fights and 18 pro fights, Yarde would need to be special to pull of a win against the best at Lt. Hvy we seen in a while.

  • I don’t think Kovalev gets enough credit as a boxer. His power sells, but his technique will be the big difference in this fight. I do see a KO win set up by his superior technique. My over under bar would be 5 rounds.

    Note: I wonder why nobody is saying Yarde isn’t worthy of a title shot? Fury technically doesn’t have a title and is getting lambasted for Wallin, but Yarde who’s resume is beyond thin gets a pass. I know he’s ranked by the sanctioning body, but so is Wallin.

    • Kovalev vs. Yarde is not a mismatch, oddsmakers and most of the public see as an even matchup. Fury vs. Wallin is a mismatch, as it was Fury vs. Schwarz, the odds for both support this. Also, Fury is a superior fighter and not in the twilight of his boxing career, as Kovalev is. Not matter the way Fury’s supporters try to slice it, he is facing just marshmallows for some safety reasons, not acceptable due to his elite status

      • I apologize for being off thread, but I’ve asked this question before and nobody is answering: besides Wilder or the winner of Ruiz/AJ rematch, who would you have Fury fight?

        Note: I don’t consider myself a Fury supporter (I thought the Draw vs Wilder was fair, a lot of pity pat and clowning doesn’t necessarily score points in my book). I do like the idea of him actually staying busy though. The obvious preference was an immediate rematch, but a year later isn’t terrible by today’s standards.

  • This is going to tell us a lot, but it’s a no win situation for Kovo or Yarde. This Yarde guy is young and has some power, but who has he beaten? Kovo might hit him on the jaw, and it’s all over. Kovo doesn’t always train like a champ. He is 36 also. If Kovo wins, people will say he beat someone who hasn’t fought anyone. If he loses, people will say he’s a washed up fighter.

    • I don’t think this is a good argument: Kov wanted to fight Yarde, so now he gets what he wanted. At this point of his career its mostly about cash and legacy but Kov’s fire will never be the same as before the Ward fights.

  • I think we will know fairly quickly if Yarde is what he thinks he is. It’s basically a question of whether he can take a shot and keep his mental composure as Kovalev pressures him. He has the tools to dish it out. If he can take it and get to SKs body, he has a chance.

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