IN the end Anthony Yarde had nothing left and after 32 minutes of boxing he took one last desperate breath and started to launch his final punch when he was caught, dropped and beaten. Sergey Kovalev is still the WBO light-heavyweight champion.
The first part of Yarde’s “dream-believe” mantra was dismantled in Chelyabinsk by Kovalev long before the last punch; the hometown hero – his picture hangs in every building – was vicious, focused and calculating in equal measure from the first bell.
Did Yarde freeze in the first three or four rounds? Was the winner of 18 previous professional fights, each victory falling his way without having to break sweat, suddenly confronted with a man who refused to fall for his feints? Kovalev refused to sit on the ropes like a fat, battered duck in a target at a travelling fair and instead put together one, two and three jabs in rapid sequences. Sure, Yarde never panicked, that showed composure, but by the end of round four that is a strange badge of honour to consider an accomplishment. The fighting would come later, we just expected it sooner.