It looked like a scene out of Rocky IV. The wildly popular movie in which Rocky travels to Russia and somehow finds a way to not only defeat his opponent, but stop him in the last round.
Anthony Yarde (18-1, 17 KOs) had the chance to pull off his own epic win as he traveled to Russia to take on WBO Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs).
The ring walks for both men were eye catching, and the fight lived up to the hype.
Kovalev has become a new fighter ever since he has teamed up with trainer Buddy McGirt. The fighter nicknamed “Krusher” was once known for knocking his opponents out. Now, he methodically breaks them down with a much more patient approach.
Yarde started things off well. He was beating Kovalev to the punch and pushing him back. With just 12 amateur fights under his belt and 18 pro contests to his resume, Yarde did not look like a man that was lacking in experience. As the contest went on however, things began to change.
Round 3 saw Kovalev use his jab effectively. Yarde couldn’t seem to get out of the way for several rounds. It was also becoming evident that Yarde, who is built more like a body builder, was tiring.
As Round 8 began, it was as though Yarde began to realize that he was heavily trailing on the scorecards. He came out on fire during the round. He landed numerous big shots that had Kovalev in serious trouble.
Cameras were able to pick up on some of the action that was going on in the corner of Kovalev as his trainer, Buddy McGirt, threatened to put an end to the contest if he continued to take that level of a beating.
McGirt, as ESPN+ commentators highlighted, was in the corner of Maxim Dadashev during the recent bout that ultimately caused him his life so the beating Kovalev began taking was focused on much more.
Kovalev got the message loud and clear as he went back to his jab and avoided big shots from Yarde. It looked as though Yarde used everything he had in his gas tank in the previous round as he was dead tired in the ninth.
Yarde, who had never been past the seventh round in his entire career, was running on fumes at this point. Kovalev pushed the pace in the 10th and nearly stopped him, if not for the bell.
The 11th round saw Yarde come out slower and more tired than the previous round. Kovalev immediately jumped on the exhausted Yarde.
The WBO Light Heavyweight champ put his man down and out in the 11th courtesy of a left hand jab.
Yes, a jab.
Yarde laid on his back–seemingly exhausted. Kovalev not only proved to be the better boxer, but he also showed that his power sticks with him no matter how late the fight goes.
It was a great victory for Kovalev in front of his hometown crowd. Now, he turns his attention to Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez as they appear to be heading toward a collision course for the end of 2019.
Kovalev vs. Yarde Highlights
HIGHLIGHTS: @KrusherKovalev surged late in defending his Light Heavyweight belt on home soil, and ultimately stopped Anthony Yarde in the 11th round – his 29th career KO.
Kovalev vs. Yarde Punch Stats Courtesy of Box Stat