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.
—- WHILE it was far from a pleasing spectacle, no one should criticise Amir Khan for taking on a woefully prepared Billy Dib in Saudi Arabia and getting paid handsomely for doing so. He would have been insane to turn that down and it must surely go down as the best bit of business in his long career. That doesn’t mean we need to see any more nonsense like that. Given the state that Dib was in it’s a wonder the bout was sanctioned.
A showdown with Manny Pacquiao would have some appeal, admittedly, but it all seems a little far-fetched that “Pac Man” will enter the same pantomime world that Khan finds currently himself in.
—- DANIEL DUBOIS is at the opposite end of his journey and he was impressive on Saturday night against Nathan Gorman. All the ‘smart’ money, it seemed, was going on Gorman as the fight drew close. The Nantwich man spoke with confidence going in and so many of us – no doubt remembering Andy Ruiz Jnr’s fast hands going to work on Anthony Joshua – bought into Gorman’s battle plans.
Yet Dubois, just like he always is, remained composed and quietly confident. When you pack the kind of punch that Dubois does, there’s no need to shout too loudly about it. And against Gorman, who was overpowered and outfought in every department, Dubois delivered an emphatic statement about his potential.
It would be nice to see him defend his British heavyweight title rather than just discard it like so many others have done while on their way up. With the likes of Joe Joyce and Hughie Fury among the leading contenders for the Lonsdale Belt, and the winner of Dave Allen-David Price there or thereabouts, Dubois, still only 21, can develop at domestic level while breathing new life into a proud old championship.
—– PERHAPS the biggest winner of the week was Marcus Morrison. After suffering three losses in five fights from 2016 to 2018, the heavy-handed Manchester prospect was widely written off. Last week Morrison proved, like so many before him have proved, that defeats can often be the best thing to happen to young boxers.
Everyone is different, of course, but after being fed a long diet of poor opposition – and starting to believe his own hype – Morrison didn’t really learn a thing until Jason Wellborn and Tyan Booth beat him in consecutive bouts.
On Friday night, against all the odds, the 26-year-old showed off that education has he toppled Emanuele Blandurama in nine rounds away from home. At 39, the ageing Italian was at the wrong end of his career and full credit to Morrison for having the balls to step up. He knew that win or lose, it was a chance he had to take. Anthony Yarde, should he have been watching, would likely have been inspired.