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Three Punch Combo: Observations on Kovalev-Yarde and other Upcoming Fights

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  • Three Punch Combo: Observations on Kovalev-Yarde and other Upcoming Fights

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    By Matt Andrzejewski

    THREE PUNCH COMBO -- Light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KO’s) returns to the ring on Saturday in his native Russia to face mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde (18-0, 17 KO’s). Kovalev is coming off an impressive victory in his rematch with Eleider Alvarez, but was that performance a mirage and is the resurrection of the now 36-year-old Kovalev for real?

    It’s funny how quickly perceptions can change in boxing. When Kovalev was knocked out by Alvarez in August of 2018, many thought Kovalev’s career as an upper echelon fighter was done. But when Kovalev out-boxed Alvarez in the rematch six months later, many thought Kovalev was back amongst the elite in the light heavyweight division.

    In order to better gauge just where Kovalev is at in his career, we need to take a closer look at both of those fights.

    Per CompuBox, Kovalev averaged throwing 48 punches per round (21 were jabs) to Alvarez’s 36 (17 were jabs) in their first fight. Most ringsiders had that fight fairly close through six rounds with maybe a slight edge to Kovalev. Then in round seven, Alvarez landed the overhand right that put Kovalev down and turned the tide.

    In the second fight, per CombuBox, Kovalev averaged 68 punches per round (32 were jabs) to Alvarez’s 31 (17 were jabs). So Kovalev’s overall volume increased drastically while Alvarez’s volume remained relatively the same. In this fight, Kovalev essentially coasted to an easy victory.

    In the first fight, it appeared that in round seven Kovalev began to look fatigued. But despite throwing a much higher volume of punches in the second fight, Kovalev never really looked fatigued or took his foot off the gas. So, what changed?

    Re-watching both fights, it is clear that in the first fight Kovalev loaded up on almost everything he threw at Alvarez. But in the second fight, Kovalev didn’t load up that often. Instead, he used his jab more. By doing so, he was able to pace himself while displaying excellent overall boxing skills.

    Kovalev changed his style in the second fight and clearly it worked. Coming up the ladder, Kovalev always had the raw power but early in his career he displayed very good boxing skills. As his career progressed, he began falling more and more in love with his power, often times abandoning those boxing skills. But his new trainer for that second fight with Alvarez, Buddy McGirt, helped bring back those boxing skills and we saw the results.

    So, is this resurrection of Kovalev for real? Yes, I believe so, if he continues to focus on what worked for him in that second fight with Eleider Alvarez. The boxing skills can be elite and there is still the raw power. Light heavyweight is deep but I think this resurrected version of Kovalev can still defeat anyone in the division.

    ShoBox Returns

    ShoBox returns on Friday with a tripleheader from Main Street in Broken Arrow, OK. The card will be headlined by fast-rising 168-pound prospect Vladimir Shishkin (8-0, 5 KO’s) who will be taking a big step up in competition in facing DeAndre Ware (13-1-2, 8 KO’s) in a bout scheduled for 10 rounds. Also featured on the card will be the return of Shohjahon Ergashev (16-0, 14 KO’s) who will face the tough Abdiel Ramirez (24-4-1, 22 KO’s) in a scheduled ten at 140 pounds.

    Shishkin, 28, turned pro in July of 2016 after a solid amateur career. He is coming off a career best win last October when he stopped former world title challenger Nadjib Mohammedi in the 10th round of their scheduled 12-round fight. Now Shishkin will come to the U.S. for the first time to face an even stiffer test in Ware.

    Ware, 31, is coming off a career-best performance himself in February when he scored a surprise 10- round majority decision over the previously undefeated Ronald Ellis. Ware once held Shishkin’s status as a rising super middleweight then took a step back with a bad performance in 2018 against Cem Kilic. He can reclaim his stature in the division with a victory on Friday.

    Ergashev, featured earlier this year as a break-out candidate, is coming off a rather pedestrian performance in February when he won a 10-round decision against awkward Mykal Fox. Prior to that performance, Ergashev had been putting on some dominant performances, flashing a tantalizing skill set along with devastating power.

    Ramirez is a tough aggressive veteran who pulled a big surprise last December when he stopped former contender Michael Perez. He is certainly no pushover and his aggressive style should at the very least make for an entertaining fight.

    ShoBox continues to deliver in 2019 and I expect no different from this event on Friday. While both Shishkin and Ergashev will enter the ring as favorites, they are certainly not in easy, and it’s this type of matchmaking that continues to make the series a big hit.

    Under the Radar Fight

    DAZN returns on Saturday from Mexico with a card headlined by 115-pound champion Juan Francisco Estrada (39-3, 26 KO’s) who will be making the first defense of the title he won in April when he takes on Dewayne Beamon (16-1-1, 11 KO’s). While this fight will grab much of the publicity surrounding this card, there is an intriguing undercard fight pitting fast-rising 140-pound prospect Shakhram Giyasov (8-0, 6 KO’s) against veteran Darleys Perez (34-4-2, 22 KO’s).

    Giyasov, 26, had a stellar amateur background that included winning a silver medal for Uzbekistan at the 2016 Olympics. He turned pro in 2018 and has been moved along at a very brisk pace. He is coming off a 10-round unanimous decision in April against veteran Emanuel Taylor and seems poised to quickly move into contender status at 140.

    Giyasov can best be described as an aggressive boxer puncher. He throws very fluid combinations to both the head and body. His footwork is excellent and he is very adept at setting precision angles to land his heavy-handed shots with maximum impact. And though he is comfortable coming forward, Giyasov has also proven to be a very effective counter-puncher in the early stages of his pro career.

    As with many up-and-coming young fighters, Giyasov does have some defensive holes. Most notably he has a habit of carrying his left hand at his hip and pulling straight back with his hands down. In his fight against Taylor, Giyasov was buzzed by a left hook in the first round while pulling straight back.

    Perez, 35, is a hard-nosed skilled veteran and this is clearly a big step up in competition for Giyasov. Perez has tested up-and-coming fighters in the past and has shown a knack for exposing their weaknesses. In 2016, he pushed future world champion Maurice Hooker to the limit in what ended in a controversial 10-round split draw (most ringside observers felt Perez clearly deserved the nod). Perez has shown recently that he still has plenty in the tank and hopes to position himself back in contention in the deep 140-pound division.

    Shakhram Giyasov has plenty of talent but also plenty of questions. Can he rise to the occasion and show his full potential against Darleys Perez or will he be exposed? This is a very intriguing crossroads fight between a savvy skilled veteran and an elite young prospect.

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

  • #2
    I don't see a resurrection, real or imagined, for KK. I see that the Krusher's crushing defeats (against Ward and Alvarez) have permanently removed him from the elite world stage and reduced him (quite happily I suspect) to defending a single BO title at home against a no-hoper that nobody has ever heard of.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Kid Blast
      Yarde = live dog but any gut whose last name ends in v, you gotts respect.
      I would give Yarde a punchers chance. I think he is too mechanical and Kovalev can easily out box him. But if Kovalev gets careless, Yarde could do damage but I don't see that happening.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by KO Digest View Post
        I don't see a resurrection, real or imagined, for KK. I see that the Krusher's crushing defeats (against Ward and Alvarez) have permanently removed him from the elite world stage and reduced him (quite happily I suspect) to defending a single BO title at home against a no-hoper that nobody has ever heard of.
        Kovalev always had better boxing skills than he was given credit. I think McGirt is bringing those skills back out in him.

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        • #5
          I absolutely love Erghashev and he scored the KO that I thought he would last night. But he is falling way too much in love with his power. The jab, in particular, is getting abandoned. Sugar Hill needs to get him back to basics and needs to bring the jab out in him. It will be a problem (not jabbing) against upper echelon fighters.

          Shishkin looked very good. Ware was no push over. Shishkin still needs some fine tuning but has some serious potential.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Kid Blast
            I also have questioned Kov's outside-the-ring behavior.
            What are you, his mother? 😘

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            • #7
              I had a nice little investment in Kovalev here and definitely had to sweat this one out. It is also very clear why Canelo and his team are targeting Kovalev. Canelo's speed plus body punching probably are more than enough to compensate for Kovalev's size advantage (and I suspect we are going to see a "Caneloweight" scenario to make this fight).

              I do fully expect to see Kovalev-Canelo in November. Even after being in a rough fight, no way Kovalev now is going to turn down the kind of payday a Canelo fight will bring.

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              • #8
                That Kovalev must have a crushing jab! Unusual finish.

                Rare is the fighter dropped from a mere jab, but stopped?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by KO Digest View Post
                  That Kovalev must have a crushing jab! Unusual finish.

                  Rare is the fighter dropped from a mere jab, but stopped?
                  I was thinking to too and cannot come up with another time that I saw that happen. I mean we have seen knockdowns before from a jab but knockouts from a jab I cannot recall.

                  Honestly, I think it was more fatigue than anything. Yarde came out and tried to make a last stand to open that round (this was mentioned by either Bradley or Ward calling the fight, I cannot recall which one). After he threw those initial punches to open the round, he looked utterly exhausted and like he could fall at any moment. Just happened to be from a jab that did the trick...

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                  • #10
                    It was definitely a hard stick.

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