Kovalev vs Yarde

By Frank Warren

AS OUR EXCELLENT ring MC Thomas Treiber is fond of saying, ‘the time has arrived’, and it is time for Anthony Yarde to show the world what is really all about when he shares a ring with Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev in Chelyabinsk on Saturday.

By defeating the most highly decorated of all the champions at the weight, Anthony I believe will become the rightful leader of the light heavyweight pack.

I have got my fingers firmly crossed that this will be the case, but we are under no illusions and are going into this knowing our man has a tough, tough job on his hands in the home town of Kovalev.

If he does deliver the performance and result I know he can then I believe it will be a feat beyond any that he been achieved by a British fighter as a world title challenger. Yes, bigger than Lloyd Honeyghan shocking Donald Curry all those years ago in Atlantic City.

That is taking into account where he is going to do it, his experience as an amateur and professional and who he is coming up against.

Anthony is not fighting some old geezer on his last legs, he is taking on someone who has been fighting for world titles in his last 15 fights and has designs on jumping in with Canelo in his one after next.

Kovalev is not a man throwing his last few punches before picking up his pension.

I do, however, think he has slipped a little bit from being the fearsome operator he once was. I did tip Eleider Alvarez to beat him in the first fight, but he well and truly turned the tables on the Colombian in the return.

I must admit, if Anthony was fighting Alvarez I would be telling everyone to lump on it because I would have no problem with that one at all. He would walk through him.

This fight against the 33-3-1 six-footer is all about Anthony dominating it right from the off. He has got to be the boss, he has got to bully him, show no respect, take the fight to him and let his shots go.

He needs to be busy, busy, busy and, if he does that, he can beat him. What I don’t want to see is him standing off him and allowing Kovalev to get his jab going. He has got a very good jab that can dictate the tempo of fights.

Anthony has got to go through the gears and show a lot of head movement. I think if Anthony lands on Kovalev, he will hurt him and then we will see how much Krusher has got left in the tank.

Kolvalev doesn’t always respond well to return fire and, even against Nathan Cleverly when we brought him over to Cardiff in 2013, when he got caught he spat his gumshield out and he was moaning in the corner when they were trying to get him going.

Ultimately, Cleverly didn’t back himself enough to keep hold of his title and he took a bit of a drubbing in the end.

It wasn’t a fight I was particularly looking to make at the time. I remember we met up at a hotel and he said he wanted a big-money fight and the only one at the time that was generating good money through American TV was Kovalev.

Nathan said he had seen all his fights and was up for the job, so I looked at him on the internet and said, ‘listen, he can bang, but if you box him then you can beat him’.

During the week of the fight I knew he was not going to win it because his whole demeanour changed and his confidence evaporated.

Nobody could accuse Anthony of suffering from a shortage of confidence because his attitude is so positive. This stems from being such a natural athlete who is very strong and you suspect whatever sport he got involved with he would have excelled in.

He also never gets distracted by outside forces and we have all stuck to our guns when it came to the gameplan for getting Anthony into position for his shot at glory.

I am well aware that there has been plenty of harping on about his opponents up to now and people questioning why he hasn’t gone down the domestic route.

I like to think I know what I am doing when it comes to steering my fighters towards world titles and possess the experience to back this up. Am I supposed to be swayed by a load of tittle-tattle on social media over who he should fight?

The fact of the matter is, Anthony has faced opponents selected to provide him with the experience he needed to get to where he is now. They may not have been household names, but you will find a good number of them had not been stopped until they came across our man.

Nobody can have any complaints now Anthony is approaching the biggest test of his career and one of the toughest examinations the sport can offer up.

I know he has got what it takes to cause what will be considered a major upset and when he does he will become one of the most charismatic and explosive world champions in the business.

And it couldn’t happen to a nicer kid.

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