MANY fans will remember Sergey Kovalev coming over to the UK six years ago and ruining Nathan Cleverly, then the WBO light-heavyweight champion. The outcome of that bout was no certainty, however, with some believing that Cleverly’s experience at the top level, coupled with the home advantage he had in Cardiff, might be enough to expose the Russian slugger. Of course, Kovalev proved to be every bit as dangerous as was feared.
On August 24, Anthony Yarde will be Kovalev’s first British opponent since he halted Cleverly in four rounds. And like Kovalev all those years ago, Yarde is heading to the champion’s Russian backyard armed with a flashy unbeaten record loaded with early finishes. But, in truth, it’s a ledger significantly shallower than Kovalev’s was prior to challenging Cleverly.
Yarde has it all to do. For me, it would be a huge shock if he were to upset Kovalev but with the Russian now 36 years old and unquestionably starting to fade, the timing might never be better. Full credit to Yarde for having faith in himself. In boxing, that self-belief can define challenges like the one he’s about to undertake.