WBO Champion Sergey Kovalev didn’t let the hometown hopeful down with a stoppage victory over mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde in Traktor Arena in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
It didn’t come easy for Kovalev, as it was a close battle for the 36-year-old as Yarde from the onset the quicker fighter of the two. Yarde was using his check hook to keep Kovalev at bay early. It even gave Kovalev trouble in the middle rounds of this fight, but you could see as the match went on fatigue was a huge factor.
This tiring was visibly apparent after the tenth round where it seemed that he was sucking the entire air out of the country of Mother Russia to regain his breath.
In the eleventh round was when it all came to a head and Yarde was caught with a left jab that sent him down on his back. Yarde was not able to get up, as Referee Luis Pabon at 2:04 of the eleventh round waived this one over.
So, Kovalev retains in his first title defense since gaining the belt back in February from Eleider Alvarez.
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Kovalev was throwing the jab exclusively for a majority of this fight and landed 115 of the 404 he threw. His jab was the gameplan that he was using for Yarde. At first, it worked well, then worked even better in the later rounds as it was the punch that sent him down. Yarde wasn’t going down without swinging, however.
The middle rounds Yarde was able to catch Kovalev with body shots that on the broadcast you could visibly see was not to his liking.
What happens from this homecoming now for Kovalev is more than likely a matchup for Kovalev to face Canelo Alvarez that has been not only reported but seems to be next up for him. The other option he has at 175 is Zurdo Ramirez if Alvarez falls through for matchups.
Kovalev stated in the ESPN vignettes promoting the fights he was looking to set his family up financially for generations and the talks with Alvarez sound like the obvious choice in doing so.