Boxing News At Five

Boxing News at Five: Kovalev shot is too soon for Yarde, and Cordina looks to mash up Dodd

Sergey Kovalev vs Eleider Alvarez
Stacey Verbeek
Anthony Yarde had the chance to fight Sergey Kovalev for the WBO light-heavyweight title, and Joe Cordina steps up against 'Masher' Dodd on August 4

So, Anthony Yarde, here’s what you’ve won: a July 23 date with a bloke from Poland. He has a 26-3-3 (9) professional boxing record. He weighs 175 pounds and is left-handed. His name is Dariusz Sek.

Muted fanfare. Audience applaud – reluctantly.

Now, Anthony Yarde, here’s what you could have won: a WBO world light-heavyweight title shot against Russian Sergey Kovalev, one of boxing’s biggest names.

“Anthony Yarde was offered a fight with Kovalev but we turned it down,” Yarde’s promoter, Frank Warren, said. “He needs that experience.

“The objective is to win it and defend it. Each time he fights he will step up.”

That’s fair enough, I suppose. Yarde, after all, has boxed just 16 times as a professional and has yet to progress beyond the likes of Dariusz Sek. To skip a few levels and all of a sudden share a ring with Kovalev, a man who has only lost to Andre Ward, would be akin to grabbing a child from the shallow end of their local leisure centre swimming pool and launching them from a pirate ship plank in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

“Go on, swim.”

That said, Yarde, powerful and precocious and ranked at two with the WBO, is surely better than the likes of Sek and a WBO European title at this stage.

“I don’t know too much about Dariusz,” he said, “but I go out and do my job. It doesn’t matter if he is southpaw, northpaw or westpaw. Sparring with southpaws has been different but nothing to worry me.

“I am not thinking this is a pushover. People talk about world title offers, but boxing is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”

It is. Which means Yarde is 16 miles into a 26-miler. Or something like that.

Anthony Yarde

It’s evidently time to step up for the Team GB class of 2016. Lawrence Okolie had Isaac Chamberlain, Josh Kelly had Carlos Molina, Joe Joyce had Lenroy Thomas, Joshua Buatsi is getting ready for Ricky Summer, and now Joe Cordina, it was announced yesterday, will fight Shaun ‘Masher’ Dodd on August 4 at Cardiff’s Ice Arena.

Up for grabs will be the Commonwealth lightweight title, recently vacated by Tommy Coyle.

Twenty-six-year-old Cordina turned pro in April last year and has so far amassed seven straight wins. In his last fight, back in March at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, Cordina aced the first minor test of his pro career when chopping down the 19-5 Hakim Ben Ali in three rounds as part of the big Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker show.

Indeed, the ease with which he cut through Ali suggested a greater step up was needed for bout number eight, and Shaun Dodd, a former Commonwealth champion, is probably the right man at the right time.

Dodd, 15-3-1 (3), enjoyed a productive 2017, beating the likes of Thomas Stalker and Lee Appleyard, but then saw his title reign cut short in April against an invigorated Tommy Coyle. Though not a puncher, the Scouser is crafty, clever and possesses enough boxing ability, and durability, to offer a stern test of Cordina’s credentials and ambition.

All in all, it’s a perfect bit of matchmaking.


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