Kovalev KOs Yarde in 11th

Sergey Kovalev may have set himself up for a big showdown in the near future, as he finished Anthony Yarde in the 11th round to retain the WBO light heavyweight championship.

The fight headlined a Top Rank Boxing card in Kovalev’s home country of Russia.

Both men looked to establish the pace from the opening round, with Kovalev working the left jab and Yarde looking to show off his speed. Kovalev began to trouble Yarde in the second, using the jab to eliminate as much as Yarde’s speed as possible. And this ended up being a theme throughout the fight, as Kovalev constantly stopped Yarde’s efforts from coming inside.

Yarde had a better third round by landing even when pressured back, but he had no answers for Kovalev’s jab as the fight went on, looking tired as early as the fourth round with no alternate plan in sight.

When the fight hit the seventh round, the fight’s tide appeared to be turning, as Yarde worked over the defending champion with power shots to the body. The next round, he stunned Kovalev with a right hand and chased him down in an effort to get a knockdown or finish the fight. Kovalev, however, was saved by the bell, and it appeared Yarde gassed himself out.

Kovalev began to get back into things over the next two rounds before finally dropping and stopping Yarde in the 11th with a left jab.

With the win, Kovalev now potentially sets himself up for a showdown with current two-weight WBA champion Canelo Alvarez. The pair attempted to negotiate a bout earlier this summer, but Yarde refused a step-aside offer and Kovalev elected to focus on Yarde, his mandatory challenger.

Kovalev and Yarde now could meet this fall. Should things not work out, however, Kovalev could also be set up for a unification bout with the winner of October’s unification showdown between IBF champion Artur Beterbiev and WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk.

WBO light heavyweight championship: (c.) Sergey Kovalev def. Anthony Yarde via KO (Rd. 11, 2:04)
Ilunga Makabu def. Aleksei Papin via majority decision (113-113, 115-113, 115-113)
Evgeny Romanov def. Dario German Balmaceda via TKO (Rd. 1, 2:33)

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