Press "Enter" to skip to content

Andre Ward fears Anthony Yarde isn’t prepared for Sergey Kovalev test – EXCLUSIVE

THEY say he who dares wins, and Anthony Yarde really is pushing that mantra to the limit by taking on WBO light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in Russia on August 24.

Last night, the worst kept secret in boxing was finally confirmed: Yarde will be travelling almost 2,000 miles east to lock horns with the experienced Kovalev, 36, in his maiden world-title bout.

The Essex man is 26 years of age, has claimed 17 of his 18 victories by knockout, is yet to stain his professional record with the black mark of a draw or a defeat and currently holds the WBO’s intercontinental light-heavyweight strap.

loading...

From this standpoint, as well as merely glancing at his impeccably sculpted physique, Yarde certainly seems well-equipped to challenge ‘Krusher’, who has suffered all three of his losses in as many years and is surely nearing the end of a decade-long career.

The question mark comes, however, when running the rule over his résumé.

Yarde burst onto the pro scene at Wembley Arena in May 2015, knocking out a vastly overmatched Mitch Mitchell serving as cannon fodder in his opening act on the big stage.

Yet fast forward four years and the Hackney-born fighter, somehow, is still without even the slightest of commendable scalps on his underwhelming list of victims.

The concerning truth is that Yarde, mollycoddled to an extent by promoter Frank Warren, has been in with sitting ducks for the entirety of his career to date, stopping 17 of them inside the distance while cruising to a comfortable points win over Stanislavs Makarenko – his second ever opponent who remains the anomaly on his otherwise flawless CV.

And it is this alarming lack of high-class opposition staring back across the ring at Yarde that has left many questioning trainer Tunde Ajayi’s logic in chucking his fighter in at the deep end against arguably a top 10 pound-for-pounder in Kovalev.

Ajayi, who also serves as Yarde’s manager, clearly has supreme confidence in his untested 175-pounder. He insists they will not be bringing in any sparring partners to prepare for Kovalev, which has certainly raised eyebrows.

But the term belief was swiftly traded for delusion by several prominent members of the boxing world when the 44-year-old claimed Yarde obtains ‘a better skillset’ than former two-weight world champion Andre Ward.

Ward, who won all 32 of his outings as a professional, was widely regarded as the sport’s pound-for-pound chief before retiring in 2017 and is undoubtedly one of the greatest fighters of his generation.

The final two victories of his career came in memorable, bitter battles with Kovalev; many feel the American was highly fortunate to earn a unanimous points win in the first, though few can belittle his brilliant stoppage triumph in the rematch.

Ward therefore makes a fascinating analyst when the topic in question is Kovalev vs Yarde, which pits his old adversary against the new kid on the block.

And while ‘SOG’ feels Yarde’s age and physicality suggests a readiness for the Russian, he fears the huge leap in class could come back to haunt the Brit.

“I wouldn’t say it’s too early,” Ward told Starsport.

“I think that the timing is right from a standpoint of his age, his physicality and all that stuff.

“You can’t go from a C level to an A level, or A- level, or B+ level”

Andre Ward

“But he just hasn’t fought the right fights at this stage, that’s the issue.

“You can’t go from a C level to an A level, or A- level, or B+ level.

“Some guys can pull it off. You’ve got the Floyd Mayweathers of the world, you’ve got Muhammad Ali when he fought Sonny Liston. You’ve got those types of guys.

“But I don’t know if Yarde is that guy. Do you know why? ‘Cos I haven’t seen enough.

“I’m not a big hype guy. I can look at you and say ‘man, you’ve got potential. But let me see you against that guy.’

“That’s the only way if you can tell you’ve got the right horse for the race.

“So they’re taking a leap up, and all this stuff about not needing to spar and the mitt-work and all that stuff’s gonna be sufficient, good luck with that. Good luck with that.”

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

loading...