Boxing News At Five | Aug 21 2019

Boxing News at Five: Crawford could fight Kavaliauskas on December 14, Kovalev says “little kitten” Yarde will pay for talking too much

WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford is lining up his next defence for December 14 in New York, and Sergey Kovalev isn't happy with Anthony Yarde
Terence Crawford
Terence Crawford & Amir Khan Press Conference  |  Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

GIVEN the anticlimactic nature of his last fight in April, it’s no wonder Terence Crawford is itching to return to the ring again before the year is over.

In April, ‘Bud’ dropped and dominated Amir Khan for six rounds before a low blow caused the Brit to claim he was unable to continue. Crawford won the fight, of course, retaining his WBO welterweight crown via sixth-round stoppage, but it was no less frustrating for the gifted American.

Now, according to his promoter, Bob Arum, there’s every chance Crawford will be defending his title again at Madison Square Garden, New York on December 14, this time against mandatory challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas.

“Hopefully we’ll have a title defence by Terence Crawford,” Arum told Everlast’s TalkBox podcast. “Michael Conlan is scheduled to fight on that card, and if the hand comes around, and it’s in good shape, Carl Frampton will also be on that card. So it’s a big night in MSG after the Heisman trophy is awarded.

“If the WBO says that he has to fight a mandatory, then he’ll (Crawford) fight Kavaliauskas. We’ll be meeting with Paco Valcarcel, the president of the WBO, in London next week, and we’ll be able to work that out.”

Known as ‘Mean Machine, Kavaliauskas is 21-0-1 (17) as a pro and currently based in Oxnard, California. His last fight, a March draw against American Ray Robinson, is the sole blemish on a record comprising knockout wins against the likes of Roberto Arriaza, David Avanesyan and Mahonri Montes.

Impressive though these stats seem, on paper, he’ll need much more to get close to Crawford. The Omaha hero, after all, is undefeated in 35 pro fights, seemingly going from strength to strength and appears, at 31 years of age, to have hit his athletic peak. That’s bad news for Kavaliauskas and, frankly, everybody else at 147 pounds.

Terence Crawford
Crawford gets better and better (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

For weeks we feared the low-key nature of its build-up and wondered if the WBO world light-heavyweight title fight between Sergey Kovalev and Anthony Yarde this Saturday (August 24) was too good to be true.

Yarde wasn’t saying much, Kovalev was saying even less, and it seemed, given the hush, destined to be consigned to the scrapheap of risky fights deemed too risky in reality. And yet, now we have noise and now we have a fight. With both in Russia, it’s happening, and with it happening both are seemingly more inclined to talk.

“I will show who is the boss here,’ Kovalev told BT Sport. ‘He can say everything he wants but say and do is two different things. I’m already mad with guys like him.

“He will pay for everything he posted and said. He’s just a kid, not a lion. A little kitten. Small kitten.”

Yarde was the first to arrive in Russia and appeared in good spirits when filmed by BT Sport at the airport. His luggage may have gone missing, but he was all smiles and gave off a relaxed impression that perhaps belies the severity of the task ahead. Nerves? What nerves. Yarde feels the only one hampered by nerves this week will be the champion with it all to lose.

“The vibration I’m getting is that he doesn’t really want to fight me,” Yarde said. “He’s thinking, This guy has only had 18 professional fights, he only had 12 amateur fights and I’m a future Hall-of-Famer, I can’t let this kid come and beat me.

“But that’s what’s going to happen. I feel that’s what’s going to make him nervous.

“I’m just a kid from East London who started boxing at 19 years old and worked his way up. But my name’s in the mix now and it shows what’s going to come in the future.”

The future will certainly be bright for Yarde if he can confound the doubters and rip Kovalev’s WBO title away from him in Russia this weekend. However, that, like most things in boxing, is easier said than done.

Sergey Kovalev
Kovalev is still going strong at 36 (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

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