After War, Kovalev Ready For Canelo

With his world title and a fight against Canelo Alvarez hanging in the balance, Sergey Kovalev nearly lost it all on Saturday night.

In-front of a hometown crowd, Kovalev nearly saw his trainer Budy McGirt stop the fight in the eighth-round against mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde.

“He told me, ‘don’t stop it. He’s getting tired now,’” McGirt told BoxingScene.com. “I knew he was OK. It was a matter of him losing focus for that moment. Sergey got a little lazy, keeping Yarde on the outside was a little too easy. I told him I’m going to give him one more round to show me something, and he got back on what he was supposed to do. I can’t let [Maxim Dadashev’s death] stop me from doing what I need to do.”

Kovalev bounced back in the ninth round, taking back a narrow lead across the scorecards, making the most of that second wind, to stop Yarde in the 11th.

“By him getting lazy, Yarde got more confident. But after that, he was a dead man. He shot his load,” McGirt said. “Sergey fought very well, especially in front of a hometown crowd when fighters have a tendency of wanting to impress and burning unnecessary energy. He pulled it together. It was outstanding.”

“He fought a young and strong guy who came to win,” said McGirt of the British challenger. “Anthony wasn’t there for a payday. In these kinds of fights, you’re going to get hit. It’s how you recover and come back. Sergey recovered and came back better.”

When asked of how Kovalev’s body would react to Canelo Alvarez’s devastating body shots, McGirt stood up for his fighter, claiming Kovalev is still on-top where he belongs.

“Sergey is ready for Canelo without a doubt. He showed that he still belongs. People wrote him off saying ‘he’s old, he’s this, he’s that,’ and he proved them wrong. He still belongs at the top. He still has that fire burning inside to be the best,” McGirt said. “I don’t care who Sergey fights next, but if Canelo wants to step up to the big boys, then Sergey’s going to have to beat him.”

Report: Boxing Scene

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