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British Light Heavy Anthony Yarde Can Wreck Some Well-Laid Plans

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  • British Light Heavy Anthony Yarde Can Wreck Some Well-Laid Plans

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    by Arne K. Lang

    According to various reports, negotiations continue between the camps of Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev with Team Alvarez pointing toward a November or early December date at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. That’s conditional, of course, on Kovalev turning away Anthony Yarde when they meet later this month in Chelyabinsk, Russia.

    And that’s a big conditional. At several prominent online betting establishments, the odds favoring Kovalev have dipped below 2 to 1. Take away Krusher’s home field advantage – Chelyabinsk is his hometown -- and this is pretty much a “pick-‘em” fight.

    Anthony Yarde had only 12 fights as an amateur and has answered the bell for only 51 rounds as a pro. He’s 18-0 with 17 knockouts, but only half of those 18 wins were scored against opponents with winning records. Considering that he has never fought outside England and will be opposing a borderline Hall of Famer in a hostile environment, the odds will strike many as way too short. But the pricemakers, although certainly not always right, have a better feel for these things than fans and journalists and in their estimation Yarde is a very live dog.

    Anthony Yarde, who turns 28 in a few days, hails from the gritty, multi-ethnic Ilford neighborhood in East London and is a product of the same gym that produced hot heavyweight prospect Daniel Dubois. As a schoolboy he was an all-around athlete, showing promise in soccer and reportedly running the 100-meter dash in less than 11 seconds. But his sporting hero was Mike Tyson and boxing became his passion.

    His trainer, 45-year-old Tunde Ajayi, a fellow Londoner, has been with him since his amateur days. When Ajayi decided that he wanted to pursue a career as a boxing trainer, he spent many days at the Mayweather Gym in Las Vegas studying the techniques of the Mayweather brothers, Floyd Sr. and Roger, who both placed heavy emphasis on pad work. According to Ajayi, Yarde visited the Mayweather Gym when he was just getting started and dominated cruiserweight Andrew Tabiti, currently 18-1, in a sparring session.

    According to Yarde, Canelo’s promoter, Golden Boy, offered to cover his entire purse if he would step aside and let the Canelo-Kovalev fight go forward in September. Whether true or not, it is a known fact that Team Canelo was eye-balling Kovalev for Mexican Independence Day weekend. Krusher has the highest profile of the four reigning light heavyweight title-holders, but he is also the oldest (36) and was regarded in many quarters as the most vulnerable.

    Yarde has seen Kovalev fight live one time. That was in August of last year in Atlantic City when Krusher was stopped in the seventh round by Eleider Alvarez. Perhaps if Yarde had seen a different Kovalev fight, say the second Kovalev-Alvarez fight this past February, he wouldn’t be so certain of steamrolling the Russian. Working for the first time with Buddy McGirt, Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) put on a clinic in the rematch, winning a wide decision. His other losses were to Andre Ward, the first of which was controversial.

    Ward, by the way, picks Kovalev to win by a late stoppage. “That fight is going to be harder than what they realize,” says Ward in a talk with an unidentified interviewer that can be found on YouTube. “I’m not a fan of a guy facing ‘C’ level guys and making a name for himself and then jumping up to face ‘A’ or ‘A-minus’ guys.” Ward also allows that he puts little stock in Yarde’s Adonis-like physique.

    There have been numerous examples in boxing where fighters were pushed into marquee fights too soon. To name just two, Davey Moore had only 12 pro fights under his belt when he was sent in against old warhorse Roberto Duran and David Reid had engaged in only 14 pro fights when he was matched against Felix Trinidad. Those assignments turned out badly for Moore and Reid and both had strong amateur backgrounds – Moore was a four-time New York City Golden Gloves champion; Reid an Olympic gold medalist – unlike Anthony Yarde whose amateur career, what there was of it, was unnoteworthy.

    But one can find many more examples of instances where the new kid on the block, if highly touted, effectuated a changing of the guard. The history of boxing is a history of venerated but mildewed fighters passing the torch to a younger version of themselves.

    A bout between Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev will be huge as it will afford Canelo the opportunity to win a world title in a fourth weight class. This is the match, by all accounts, that Golden Boy, Canelo’s promoter, worked unsuccessfully to stage on Mexican Independence Day. When Yarde refused to step aside, and when Golden Boy deemed other options unsatisfactory, Golden Boy’s red-headed cash cow was left without a dancing partner.

    For negotiations to begin anew, it is imperative that Kovalev defeat Yarde on Aug. 24. Moreover, if the bout is to come to fruition before the end of the year, Kovalev must win without absorbing much damage in the process.

    That’s a tall order. Anthony Yarde has already screwed up Canelo Alvarez’s itinerary and he may not be finished.

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel