Kovalev vs Yarde

By Frank Warren

THE PARTICIPATION OF Anthony Yarde in world title contests has only just got started and, against world championship veteran Sergey Kovalev, he demonstrated that he is not out of his depth against such exalted company.

I said all along that, even if he lost over in Chelyabinsk in his first foray into the deep end, he would still be better for the experience in future and it would provide a steep learning curve.

That is what Anthony and his team need to do now – learn from it. If you don’t take valuable lessons from what was a big opportunity against a long-time champion then you risk not fulfilling a huge potential and I’m sure Anthony and his team know that.

I was banging on beforehand over the need for Anthony to set the pace and ruffle the feathers of a proud champion on his home patch with an explosive start and working up close to nullify the famed Kovalev jab.

He didn’t get inside Kovalev’s jab which enabled Kovalev to carry out what some people thought was eye catching work, although many of the punches were absorbed by Anthony’s gloves and the margin of superiority in the first half of the fight was not as comprehensive as some commentators made out. In fact, two of the judges after 8 rounds had him only one point behind.

You could see in the first round how apprehensive Kovalev was and that was the time to jump on him. If Anthony had adopted the same aggressive approach in the first that he showed in the eighth Kovalev would have been dreading the prospect of 12 rounds of it.

The truth of the matter is, with a bit more experience, maybe it would have been different – and despite that he was just ten seconds away from becoming world champion. If only he had got to work right from the off.

As I said in my preview last week, the strengths of Kovalev are he is a good puncher and he can jab. So all of Anthony’s work needed to be on the inside where he could get to work on the body.

He didn’t really start to do this until the seventh round and in starting this so late, unfortunately he sapped himself of energy. If he had done it earlier he would have had much more left in the tank.

A little predictably a few people have piped up with the conclusion that Anthony needed a few more fights before going into one like this. The trouble with this school of thought is that in a few fights time Kovalev wouldn’t have been there.

This was about fighting Kovalev, which was what Anthony wanted to do. I dragged it out as long as I could with Anthony being in the No.1 spot to try and get him more experience, but you reach the point where you have to take your chance.

Kovalev did just that back in 2013 when he came over to take the title off Nathan Cleverly when he had maybe one semi-notable name on his record beforehand.

I still firmly believe that Anthony Yarde had the beating of Kovalev on the night and this was an opportunity missed. That is the bottom line of it. What happened in the eighth round should have come earlier in the fight in a more controlled fashion.

Like I said before, Anthony has got all the makings of a top world champion and can come again, but he is at a real pivotal moment of his career now. He has a lesson to learn from this.

It is not like he took a beating because it was exhaustion that did for him in the end. He reached the top and came up short, but like all of us in life, we’ve got to learn from it and make adjustments and that will get him to the top.

He can learn. He is game as they come and a great athlete. He has got all the attributes but now he needs to be polished up and turned into the finished article.

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