Veteran British promoter Frank Warren is confident that Anthony Yarde can upset Sergey Kovalev in Russia this weekend despite the major step up in class.
The undefeated Yarde 18-0 (17) will challenge WBO light heavyweight champion Kovalev 33-3-1 (28) at the Traktor Sport Palace in Chelyabinsk this Saturday night.
Kovalev, 36, has fought 15 straight world title bouts for 12 wins with two of his losses coming to modern great Andre Ward.
The 28-year-old Yarde has only been extended past the fifth round twice, both seventh round stoppages.
But Warren isn’t concerned about Yarde’s lack of big fight experience.
“I feel it in my gut that Anthony is special and he can stun everyone on Saturday in Chelyabinsk. The way I feel about Anthony is the same gut feeling I had when I first met Naseem Hamed, Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton and Tyson Fury,” Warren wrote in his column for the Mirror.
“The key is for Anthony to impose himself on Kovalev. He’s got to get inside him. He can’t be on the outside and he can’t allow Kovalev to control the fight with his fantastic jab.
“Kovalev is a quality operator and has been at the top for a long time. Anthony’s got to get under the jab and put it on him. Work his body and maintain a fast work-rate. If he does that, he can win the fight.
“His experience is just one of those things. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I hear the critics chatting about Anthony’s opponents, they’re idiots.
“I’ve been in this business for a long time and the opponents Anthony’s had have been the right ones at the right time. He gets compared to Joshua Buatsi, but Buatsi has been to the Olympics and the Worlds as an amateur – he has a wealth of experience that Anthony has not had. Anthony had 12 fights as an amateur.
“Kovalev is a big favourite, we know that, but Anthony, I think, is unique. He’s stepped up and he’s going into no-man’s land, literally. His bags didn’t arrive with him, there was no hot water at one stage in his hotel. He is completely off the radar in Russia, all to achieve his dream. And that takes balls.”
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