I THINK it’s very clear that Sergey Kovalev is still one of the top light-heavyweights in the world. Just look at his last fight and how he turned the tables on a good fighter in Eleider Alvarez. Just six months after getting stopped by Alvarez, Kovalev came back with a solid decision victory in the return, which speaks loudly to that fact that he’s still a world-class fighter. Also, after this win, it’s more than likely that he’s in a good place mentally at the moment.
I think Kovalev is likely to have a certain amount of motivation within himself right now, considering that all four major champions in his weight class are Eastern European. I’m sure he’ll be motivated to establish himself in history as the best of that group.
At this stage in his development, I think Anthony Yarde is what you would call a very live underdog in his world title fight against Kovalev. He’s young, strong, 6ft tall and has good power. Although he hasn’t yet faced the top recognisable names in the division, he has impressively done all that’s been asked of him so far against a very solid if not well-known group of opponents over the last couple of years.
However, on the mental side, of course, despite their experience, none of his previous opposition have carried the history and aura of a guy like Kovalev. It’s now up to Yarde to gear himself up to go through what he has to in order to prove that he belongs at this level at this time.
In my opinion, anytime you cross into another country to face one of its stars there is going to be automatic added pressure to overcome – not just from your opponent, but also from the overall vibe in the entire country and in the arena that is decidedly and overwhelmingly against you. It’s a lot to ask of a guy who hasn’t had any real international experience as a professional to go into the home country of a guy who is already a real handful, even without that potentially intimidating home advantage.
On that end, though, I’d like to hope, proclaim and believe that the WBO will send some of their very best officials to make sure everything is fair and square on fight night in Russia on August 24.
Regarding the talk of a potential fight between Kovalev and Canelo Alvarez down the line, financially it’d be a great fight for both men. However, unless Team Canelo see something and believe that Kovalev has seriously slipped, I just don’t view it as a wise move for him. Canelo isn’t even a big middleweight, so to attempt to voluntarily rise up two divisions to fight a guy who has largely been a destroyer at the weight is extremely admirable, but also kind of odd to me.
There are certainly other avenues Canelo can take to make great money, yet he’s already proved his fearlessness by facing Gennady Golovkin twice in a row.