Options Await Kovalev-Yarde Winner

For the first time since winning back his title from Eleider Alvarez, Sergey Kovalev returns not only to the ring but his hometown to face mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde.

Kovalev’s return to Chelyabinsk marks only the fourth time he’s fought in his native Russia since 2010, refused to pass up a fight with Yarde to face fellow world champion, Canelo Alvarez. Alvarez, who was left without an opponent for his annual fight on Mexican Independence Day weekend, attempted to move up to light heavyweight and fight the current WBO champion, but Kovalev decided to maintain his commitment to the British boxer.

With a win on Saturday night, it seems a November clash between Kovalev and Alvarez can be in-play, with Alvarez looking for his fourth world title and Kovalev looking to defeat the biggest name in his career.

But one cannot look past Yarde, who has stopped all but one of his 18 professional opponents, currently on a 16-fight stoppage streak dating back to 2015, all but one taking place in his native England.

Kovalev’s three professional losses have come within the past three years, losing a series of fights to now-retired Andre Ward, and an upset stoppage by Alvarez, which Kovalev redeemed in February, winning back his title by unanimous decision.

While Kovalev flirts with a potential fight with Canelo later this year, the other option is to unify the WBO crown against the winner of October’s showdown between IBF champion Artur Beterbiev and WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk on October 18th.

At Friday’s weigh-in, both champion and challenger were under the 175-pound weight limit for the light heavyweight title, and with Canelo or unification awaiting either fighter on the other side of Saturday night, one must wonder who will bend and break to the pressure of the ESPN cameras? Will it be the native son returning home for the first time since 2016, or the young and unbeaten brit, who has yet to fight for a world title?

Kovalev and Yarde headline at the Traktor Sport Palace in Chelyabinsk, Russia for a Top Rank card airing on

 

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