Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde Odds, Preview: Krusher’s Last Stand?

Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde Odds, Preview: Krusher’s Last Stand? article feature image

Noah K. Murray, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Sergey Kovalev

  • Anthony Yarde (+145) will face light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (-170) in his home country of Russia on Saturday. Our boxing crew previews the title fight and how to bet it.

Betting odds: Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde

Kovalev odds: -170
Yarde odds: +145
Over/Under: 8.5 (+110/-130)
Time: 12:30 p.m. ET

There’s a rare championship boxing matinee on Saturday as former pound-for-pound list staple Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) takes on prolific-but-untested knockout phenom Anthony Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs) in Kovalev’s native Russia.

It’s not a fight that will have the mainstream sports world buzzing, but for boxing fans it’s an intriguing bout between fighters at opposite ends of their career. Yarde, 28, has only been a professional fighter for four years but the early returns show that the Englishman is a legitimate prospect and his power is real.

A win over Kovalev will launch Yarde’s career to a new level and could give Britain another high-profile boxing star along with Anthony Joshua.

The stakes are incredibly high for Kovalev, too, as the 36-year-old is chasing a mega-fight with Canelo Álvarez. A revenge win over Eleider Alvarez back in February put Kovalev back on track, but the question must be asked: Is time to write him off and demote him to “Gatekeeper” status?

Market Movement

Even though Yarde is the B-side of this fight and is traveling to Russia to fight Kovalev, bettors are backing the Londoner to pull off the upset.

Kovalev opened in the -250 to -270 range around the market, but it’s been basically one-way traffic since then and Yarde has taken enough money to shorten to +145 with Kovalev being priced around -170.

Kovalev vs. Yarde Picks

It’s been a roller coaster ride for Krusher since his somewhat controversial loss to Andre Ward in their first fight back in 2016, but at his pinnacle “Krusher” was one of the best pugilists in the game.

That loss, the first of his career, seemed to shake the Russian to the core and he spent the next five months chasing the rematch with Ward, which ended with Kovalev being stopped.

After going 0-2 against Ward, Kovalev decided to try and revive his career. He looked impressive in a couple of show-me-you-still-got-it fights in late 2017 and early 2018, but a KO-loss to Eleider Alvarez put the Russian’s career back in jeopardy.

He eventually avenged that loss against the Colombian, but since the Ward losses we’ve seen Kovalev part ways with his longtime trainer John David Jackson and he’s been dealing with a felony assault charge. It’s hard to figure out where Kovalev is mentally, although the prospect of a showdown with Canelo should provide ample motivation.

As for Yarde, it’s just hard to tell what kind of fighter we are dealing with here. We know he’s got power. We know he’s aggressive. And we know he can move. What we don’t know is how he will fare against a fighter as skilled as Kovalev.

Yarde has been able to rely on his power to cover up some defensive deficiencies to this point, but against Kovalev those blemishes will be exposed. Knowing that, I expect Yarde to take things very slow in the early going to get his bearings. This is a massive step up in competition on foreign soil, so he’ll need a long feeling-out period before he can get settled.

Kovalev is a step slower than he was in his prime, but I think he should fare well against a fighter like Yarde — whose game is built on aggression and making opponents pay for mistakes.

If “Krusher” can sit behind his jab and control the ring, he should keep Yarde at bay. That is his best path to victory, especially since he’s hit the canvass a few times in his last six fights.

Kovalev knows the kind of power that will be coming back if he makes a mistake, so I expect a conservative, tactical fight from the Russian. His experience should allow him to make the right adjustments and keep this fight on his terms, which should slow things down.

I’m going to take the Over 8.5 Rounds and if the line continues to dip to -175 I think there’s a good argument for taking Kovalev or using him as a parlay piece. — Michael Leboff

I’m on the opposite side of Michael on this one.

There are a number of unknowns in this bout and Yarde’s readiness for a fight of this magnitude is chief among them. Sure he has reputation as a power puncher, but his past competition is lacking and that matters much more.

🔥 Anthony Yarde has some big body shots and some huge hooks; he is a dangerous, dangerous man…

These are his biggest ever hits 👊

— Boxing on BT Sport 🥊 (@BTSportBoxing) August 21, 2019

Still, I’m intrigued by the over/under in this bout for a few reasons.

As noted above, Kovalev wants to use this match as a launching pad for a mega-fight with Canelo. As promoter Kathy Duva told ESPN’s Dan Rafael, Kovalev needs to win and remain uninjured if he wants that November fight to happen.

That leads me to believe that Kovalev will look to take the fight to Yarde and try to avoid going 12 rounds with the British bruiser. If that’s the case, I expect this fight to end sooner rather than later as neither fighter has recorded a stoppage win past Round 8 in their respective careers.

I don’t have a ton of confidence in either fighter and while Yarde’s implied odds at +140 give him a 39% of winning, I’m wary of backing him to win with his thin resume against a champion (in Russia no less). Take the under and hope for fireworks. — Malik Smith

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