HACKNEY light-heavyweight Anthony Yarde had a long way to go. Not just to get to Chelyabinsk to challenge Russian WBO light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in his hometown, but to bridge the gulf in experience between the two. Yarde had amassed a 18-0 record but had beaten no one of note. This fight was a major step into world class.
Kovalev in contrast has been operating at championship level for years and has been a dominant force at light-heavyweight, despite losses to Andre Ward as well as a defeat to Eleider Alvarez that he promptly avenged.
Yarde however acquitted himself well at the Traktor Sport Palace in Russia. He took the seasoned champion 11 rounds. Although Kovalev was in control initially, Yarde managed to hurt him. However Kovalev weathered the storm and took over. As he came back, Yarde began to look increasingly spent.
Kovalev forced a stoppage, a firm left jab dropping Yarde finally as the Briton faded.
Kovalev can move on. Speculation is already rife that Canelo Alvarez, the superstar middleweight who has fought once at 168lbs, remains interested in moving all the way up to light-heavyweight to take on the Russian for the WBO title.
Yarde has certainly enhanced his standing in the sport and, now with experience at the highest level, he can come again.