By Keith Idec
Anthony Yarde doesn’t just want to win the WBO light heavyweight title from Sergey Kovalev.
The unbeaten British contender also would take some satisfaction Saturday night from preventing Kovalev from fighting Canelo Alvarez. If Kovalev defeats Yarde, the Russian veteran is expected to face the Mexican middleweight star later this year in a fight that’d earn Kovalev a career-high, eight-figure purse.
Representatives for Kovalev and Alvarez were negotiating terms for an October 26 bout in Las Vegas even after the Kovalev-Yarde fight officially was announced. That would’ve required Kovalev to pay Yarde, his mandatory challenger, a seven-figure sum to step aside and allow it to happen.
Instead, Yarde has traveled to Kovalev’s hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia, where Yarde is certain he’ll have to knock out Kovalev to win.
“The only thing that’s in my mind,” Yarde said following their weigh-in Friday, “is to win by knockout again.”
When asked if he feels like he could win a decision in Kovalev’s hometown, Yarde replied, “I’m not sure. And I’m not looking to find out. I’m just being honest. I’m fighting in Russia, fighting in Kovalev’s backyard. He was brought up around here.
“All the media’s been behind him. The promotion’s been behind him. Again, they’ve got a big thing about him fighting Canelo next. I want to c*ckblock. I’m looking to continue to c*ckblock.”
The 28-year-old Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs) hasn’t fought anyone nearly as accomplished or experienced as Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) since he turned pro in May 2015. Nevertheless, he isn’t nervous about boxing Kovalev in enemy territory.
“I’m just full of excitement,” Yarde said. “A lot of people are saying, ‘Are you not scared going out to Russia? Are you not scared fighting for a world title so early in your career, with limited experience?’ I would say, ‘No, that’s not how I grew up. I thrive on challenges.’ And I’m a firm believer in it’s gonna be what it’s gonna be. So, I’ve just gotta go out there, do my job and get the win.”
ESPN+ will stream Kovalev-Yarde in the United States. That two-bout stream will start at 12:30 p.m. EDT/9:30 a.m. PDT, with a 12-round cruiserweight contest that’ll pit Russia’s Aleksei Papin (11-0, 10 KOs) versus South Africa’s Ilunga Makabu (25-2, 24 KOs).
Much of the Kovalev-Yarde card will be broadcast by BT Sport in the United Kingdom (5 p.m. BST).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.