By Kelsey McCarson | | 4 mins
Back Sergey Kovalev Against Undefeated Slugger Anthony Yarde
WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) has been one of the best 175-pound fighters in the sport for almost seven years now. Undefeated contender Anthony Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs) would love nothing more than to end the Russian’s spectacular run and start a similar one of his own on Saturday night at the Traktor Sport Palace in Chelyabinsk, Russia.
It’s an intriguing matchup that could provide real fireworks. Both fighters are hard punchers with excellent track records of putting the opposition on the floor before the final bell tolls. But the most valuable bet headed into the fight is backing Kovalev, 36, from Russia, at -167 per 888Sport in New Jersey over the +135 underdog, Yarde, 28, from England.
Why Kovalev Will Win the Fight
Boxing is a sport where appearances aren’t always what they seem to be. While Kovalev is the older fighter, a longtime champion at the tail end of what will probably turn out to be a Hall of Fame career, he’s also the fighter with the better overall skill set.
It’s not that Yarde doesn’t look solid. Indeed, it’s rare to see such a hard puncher fight with such cold precision. Yarde believes in his power enough to be patient, and he’s looked like a terror on the way up the rankings because he doesn’t really seem to get rattled.
But Yarde hasn’t been in the ring with any fighter like Kovalev and honest inspection of his resume is that he hasn’t even been in the ring with any fighter worthy of contending for Kovalev’s world title.
In short, backing Kovalev at -167 is a tremendous value because he probably deserves to be a much bigger favorite. Yarde will be overmatched in just about every single way in the fight, and his only real hope lies in catching Kovalev with something hard and stopping him.
Why the Line is So Much Closer Than It Should Be
Kovalev was a big favorite in a similar matchup against previously undefeated contender Eleider Alvarez August 2018 when he was shockingly stopped in seven rounds. In that bout, it appeared Kovalev had come to the end of the line as an elite light heavyweight boxer because while Alvarez was undefeated, he wasn’t regarded as a future world champion.
Whatever happened that night to Kovalev, whether it was poor training or just an off night, Kovalev rebounded to top form in the rematch in February 2019. Kovalev entered that fight as the underdog but left the fight the clear winner by unanimous decision and new world champion.
Why You Should Back Kovalev at -167 on 3-way Line
Kovalev historically has been considered a scary knockout artist, so it makes a bit of sense to suggest as he gets older he would be less effective because of the natural decline in speed and reflexes a fighter faces when he enters his late 30s.
But Kovalev has always been an excellent boxer. He knows how to move in and out of range effectively with his feet, and his power is heavily augmented by his ability to run his opponent into his punches.
Yarde doesn’t move his head enough when he throws combinations, so whether Kovalev stops him or wins by decision, will mostly be dependant on how well Yarde takes Kovalev’s punches, coupled with whether the Englishman can land anything solid enough on Kovalev’s chin to keep him honest.
Regardless, the most likely result is a Kovalev win, and even if the fight is close, it would be virtually impossible for Yarde to win on the judges scorecards because the fight is in Kovalev’s hometown of Chelyabinsk.