WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev 34-3-1 (29) has his sights set on middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez 52-1-2 (35) following his 11th round knockout of Anthony Yarde 18-1 (17) at Traktor Sport Palace in Chelyabinsk, Russia on Saturday night.
Mandatory contender Yarde was reportedly offered $1 million to step aside to facilitate a proposed Kovalev-Alvarez fight on the Mexican Independence Day weekend in September but instead insisted on his world title shot.
Online bookmakers are already offering odds on the Kovalev-Alvarez fight with the much smaller Mexican superstar a broad favourite, with odds of anywhere from -450 to -800 available.
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Kovalev, who has fought his entire career at 175-pounds and was competing in his 16th straight world title bout on the weekend, is confident he will have the measure of Alvarez.
“I really want the fight with Alvarez, so if he has the same desire, then I’m only for that fight,” the 36-year-old Russian said.
“[Golden Boy] played this cunning game, whereby they made an offer which was very hard to turn down when I was in training camp. But I promised Chelyabinsk, that I would be here. To fight in my hometown was unbelievably cool.”
Kovalev relied on his big fight experience and a stiff, educated jab to turn back the challenge of Yarde but not before facing his own moment of crisis in the eighth round when the British challenger hurt him with body shots and landed a series of clubbing blows to the head.
Kovalev rallied in the ninth and tenth rounds, exposing Yarde’s lack of late round experience to stop the gassed challenger with a hard jab at 2:04 of the 11th frame.
At the time of the stoppage the champion was leading the fight by scores of 97-94, 96-93 and 98-92.
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