Tonight in Russia, after a great fight that was crammed full of action, twists in the plot and some superb displays of guts and courage, WBO light-heavyweight king Sergey Kovalev proved too much for the ultra-game challenge of Anthony Yarde. “Krusher” overcame a torrid eighth-round, during which Yarde nearly stopped him, to come back and take out his challenger in round 11. Time was 2:04 and Kovalev, at age 36 over a decade the older man, improved to 34-3-1(29). Britain’s Yarde lost his unbeaten ledger and falls to 18-1(17).
It was youth versus experience tonight – and youth, along with sheer heart and determination, almost pulled it off.
The early rounds proved to be engrossing if not too decisive either way, but tonight’s fight broke out in the second half. The eighth was quite incredible. Yarde, who many said was not yet ready for such a big, big fight, gave it his all in hurting, and hurting, Kovalev. The defending champ was under fierce pressure, even seeming to turn his back on the advancing Yarde at times, yet Kovalev survived and Yarde had pretty much punched himself out.
Swollen, exhausted and out of ideas by the championship rounds, the 11th, Yarde was put down and stopped by a champion who is not on his first reign. It was a great, heroic effort from Yarde, and he came so, so close to pulling off the upset win (Kovalev trainer, the superb Buddy McGirt, threatened his gladiator with stopping the fight after that brutal 8th-round). But in the end, Kovalev reminded us how good, even great a fighter he really is.
Yarde can certainly regroup and come again. As for Kovalev, it will be very interesting to see who he opts to fight next, and how long he can keep going as world champ. Would Kovalev, at this stage of his long career, be able to beat either Artur Beterbiev or Oleksandr Gvozdyk?
After tonight’s thriller, we would all sure pay good money so as to find out.