The WBO have officially ordered Sergey Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KO’s) to defend his World light heavyweight crown against undefeated British contender Anthony Yarde (18-0, 17 KO’s).
The order comes after Yarde successfully defended his WBO Inter-Continental title with a routine fifth round TKO of American Travis Reeves last week at London’s historic Royal Albert Hall venue in Kensington.
Yarde, unbeaten in eighteen bouts with all but one of his wins coming via stoppage, has shot up the light heavyweight rankings after just four years as a professional, and will now have 30 days to agree terms to face fearsome power-puncher Kovalev in his maiden World title bout.
Though the Ilford-man has received criticism from sections of the boxing fraternity over a perceived refusal to step up in competition, Yarde and manager/trainer Tunde Ajayi have been resolute in their proclamations of World title aspirations – and now, it would seem, their patient approach has yielded a golden opportunity.
Kovalev, who is regarded as one of the sport’s most devastating punchers, recently recaptured his crown in a February rematch against Eleider Alvarez, having lost the title to the Colombian in their first meeting by seventh round KO. Though ‘Krusher’ looked seemingly back to his best in avenging his loss in the return, Yarde and Ajayi will hope to exploit any lingering frailties in Kovalev’s make-up.
Should the two sides be unable to reach a deal in the next thirty days, the bout will go to purse bids: a move that, when considering Yarde’s promoter Frank Warren’s close ties to the WBO, would suggest that Yarde and co. are very much prepared to take the fight.
Messrs Yarde, Ajayi and Warren have made little secret of the fact they have previously turned down the opportunity to challenge both Kovalev and IBF champion Artur Beterbiev in 2018, but now look poised to make the significant jump to World level.
Yarde has so far breezed through his opposition on his way to securing a #1 ranking with the WBO, but Kovalev, who looked revitalised last time out under the guidance of trainer Buddy McGirt, would represent a gargantuan step-up in levels for the 28-year-old puncher.