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Karate Kid Anthony Yarde shuns sparring partners in preparation for Sergey Kovalev

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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Anthony Yarde 18-0 (17) has shunned sparring partners ahead of the toughest fight of his life in favour of his trainer’s mysterious and secretive coaching techniques.

The 28-year-old world title contender from London will challenge WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev 33-3-1 (28) at Traktor Sport Palace in Chelyabinsk, Russia this Saturday night.

Yarde’s trainer Tunde Ajayi wouldn’t reveal much about his unconventional training methods but did hint that it was akin to a scene from the Karate Kid.

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“I am Anthony’s sparring partner because I believe, just like in the old karate movies, the teacher is the trainer of the student,” said Ajayi.

“I have developed a system which I know is capable of bringing a fighter from an embryonic stage to the stage we are at now.

“It’s that belief in myself and the belief Anthony has in himself and in me and my system which explains why we are here today – all will be revealed on Saturday night.”

Kovalev will be having his 16th straight world title fight. The 36-year-old burst onto the scene in 2013 with a brutal fourth-round stoppage of Nathan Cleverly in his first world title fight. Across three world title reigns Kovalev has claimed the scalp of the legendary Bernard Hopkins and came within one point of defeating future Hall of Famer Andrew Ward.

But stoppage losses to Ward in the rematch and in his first fight against Eleider Alvarez has some questioning whether Kovalev’s best days are behind him.

“I understand his ambitions; he calls himself a lion but to me he is a cub. I will have to get rid of his baby fur so that he can run away back home,” Kovalev said.

“I understand why he comes here and behaves like that, I have that experience myself, but now is my time.

“He has a good knockout record and thinks he will knock me out but sadly we will show everybody what the result will be.

“My plan is to have all the belts and to become the undisputed champion. There should only be one champion and we have four in our division – it is not clear who is the strongest.”

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