Kovalev Survives Tough Eighth Round to Stop Yarde, Set up Canelo Fight
For the first seven rounds of his hometown fight against unbeaten British knockout artist Anthony Yarde, Sergey Kovalev was well in control. In the eighth round, however, Yarde took advantage of a tiring Kovalev by landing a series of clean shots to the head that had Kovalev staggering around the ring. While Kovalev never went down, his trainer Buddy McGirt told him that if he saw another round like that, he was stopping the fight.
Unfortunately for Yarde, that moment was his only shot. He exhausted himself looking for the finish -- which was tactically the correct choice, given the scorecards -- and by the beginning of the ninth round, Kovalev appeared to have shaken off the damage. Soon after, Kovalev figured out Yarde was tired, pressed forward and began targeting the body in a major way with both jabs and straight right hands (punctuated by Yarde patting himself on the chest every time a good one landed). Kovalev almost stopped the fight at the end of the 10th round, trapping Yarde against the ropes and teeing off on him. Then, in the 11th, Yarde did his best to survive while Kovalev stalked him, until Yarde was dropped by a Kovalev jab, collapsed onto his back, and the referee stopped the fight.
What’s next for Kovalev? Rumors are of a November fight with Canelo Alvarez. Now, some on boxing Twitter watched Kovalev “struggle” against Yarde (Kovalev was ahead 98-92, 97-94, 96-93 at the time of the stoppage) and decided Canelo is cherry picking an over-the-hill opponent for an “easy” 175 pound belt. Those people are crazy. Kovalev isn’t as good as he used to be, but he’s still very good. There’s a video going around among GGG fans that shows a compilation of the jabs Golovkin landed against Alvarez, trying to bolster the argument that he was robbed. Putting that controversy aside, if Golovkin landed the jab so well against Alvarez, would it really be shocking to see the bigger Kovalev do the same? And, are we so sure that the guy who drained middleweights to “Caneloweight” because he was just too small for 160, will have no problem dealing with a 175-pound fighter? Everybody wants GGG-Canelo 3, but if Kovalev-Canelo happens, Alvarez deserves a lot of credit for taking the fight.
Speaking of credit, Anthony Yarde deserves a ton of it for fighting Kovalev in his hometown, and after nearly stopping him in the eighth, he deserves to have his critics stop questioning his methods. Unfortunately, that is very much not what happened. While after the fight Kovalev came over and told Yarde he would become a champion in the future, the social media world decided that Yarde wasn’t tired from Kovalevs bodywork or punching himself out in the eighth going for the stoppage, it was all because his trainer doesn’t have him spar. Did a wily veteran prove too savvy for a guy with only 12 amateur fights and 18 as a professional? No, it was because his trainer doesn’t have him spar. There’s no way to know if Tunde Ajayi is a game-changing disruptor or an absolute fraud based off this one fight. We’ll have to see how Yarde’s career turns out before we make that decision.
Brandon Figueroa Easily Stops Chacon in Four
Brandon Figueroa easily handled the pressure of taking the “best fighter in the family torch” from his brother Omar and stopped Argentina’s Javier Chacon in the fourth round. Fighting in front of a large group of supporters in his home state of Texas, Figueroa was able to walk through Chacon from both southpaw and orthodox stances, consistently landing body shots that hunched the challenger in pain. Chacon seemed to have no plan other than to bend forward at the waist and try and sneak in the occasional body shot of his own. Bending at the waist worked for Joe Frazier because everybody was too scared of his left hook to drop their right hand to throw an uppercut, but Chacon is not Joe Frazier. Eventually, Chacon got hit with a right hand, hunched forward at the waist again, and got dropped by an uppercut. He didn’t get up, and the fight was over.
Who is next for the now 20-0, 22-year-old? Philadelphia’s Stephen Fulton, who scored his own knockout win this weekend over Isaac Avelar and holds a 17-0 record, is the rumor.
Juan Francisco Estrada Too Good for a Game Dewayne Beamon
Dewayne Beamon deserves a ton of credit for making it to round nine, and still competing until the end of what was ultimately a ninth-round stoppage win for Juan Francisco Estrada. A huge underdog against the WBC flyweight champion fighting in his hometown, “Mr. Stop Running” was dropped twice in the second round, rocked in the seventh and cut in the eighth, until the referee declared he had seen enough in the ninth. Still, Beamon has a ton of heart and some very fast hands. He wasn’t ready for a world champion, but he’d be a lot of fun to see against some other top fighters.
As for Estrada, he’s trying to get a WBC-WBA unification bout against Khal Yafai on the Ruiz-Joshua 2 undercard. Eddie Hearn is claiming he wants that fight, but Eddie Hearn claims a lot of things, so who knows?
Hrgovic Stopes Heredia in Three
On paper, Filip Hrgovic’s third round TKO of Mario Heredia is impressive. Hrgovic was fighting the Mexican in Mexico, and Heredia had just beaten Samuel Peter in an upset. However, there were a couple issues with the win.
Firstly, the stoppage was a bit early. Heredia was dropped with a far bigger punch against Peter and came back to win the fight. In this bout, Heredia was up at about six, but the referee stopped the fight. Odds are, the fight was going to end seconds late, but after seeing how he survived against Peter, I might have given him the benefit of the doubt.
The other issue was how stiff Hrgovic looked. In an era with guys like Usyk, Lomachenko and Bivol, the Croatian is an old school, straight--backed jab, jab, right hand, Frankenstein style shuffling Eastern European fighter. Will this style still cut it in 2019? We’ll find out.
Smith Stops Lozano in Seven
Another guy that deserves credit for heading to Mexico and beating a Mexican this weekend is Liam “Beefy” Smith. Fighting at 160 for the first time, Smith stopped Mario Alberto Lozano in the seventh round of a fight he was pretty well dominating. After dropping Lozano in the sixth, Smith came out and put on the pressure in the seventh until the fight was stopped. At this point, Smith is a 31-year-old gatekeeper, not a serious contender at either 154 or 160. Still, he’s a fun guy and a good name to throw some unproven contenders at and see if they can handle it.
Jaron Ennis Wins Easily in Off-Air Bout
Speaking of Philadelphia, rising star Jaron “Boots” Ennis scored an easy stoppage win over Bolivia’s Franklin Mamani. Donning another wild, feathery robe Ennis stopped his overmatched opponent in the first round. The whole thing was a waste of time. Ennis is 23-0 with 21 knockouts at only 22 years old. He’s a future star. One way or another, he needs to be on TV. Luckily, he will be fighting a yet unnamed opponent on Oct. 5, in a fight Showtime claims it will air.
Vladimir Shishkin Makes Quick Work of DeAndre Ware
DeAndre Ware couldn’t offer much in the way of resistance against Vladimir Shishkin, so much so that as early as the third round, people were wondering why he wasn’t putting his foot on the gas and getting Ware out of there. Time and time again, it seemed Shishkin would get Ware pinned against the ropes and pick his shots carefully, when it felt like if he just unloaded, he could get a knockdown or a knockout.
In the end, Ware’s corner decided there was no need for the fight to continue in the eighth round, and threw in the towel while their fighter was trapped against the ropes, getting pummeled and not answering back. Shishkin’s amateur background and being trained by Emanuel Steward’s nephew make him an interesting prospect at 168. After the win in his US debut, he is now 9-0 with six knockouts, and on a four-fight knockout streak.
James Kirkland Returns to Boxing with First Round KO
Remember James Kirkland? If not, you probably remember what Canelo Alvarez did to him, all the way back in 2015. You might also remember, that loss came after Kirkland dumped his longtime trainer, Ann Wolfe, leading many to question his commitment to the sport, as Wolfe was known for her hellacious training methods.
Before this weekend, that huge KO loss was the last time he fought as a professional, but this weekend, the 35-year-old stopped the sub-.500 Colby Courter in the first round of an untelevised bout in Austin, Texas. Kirkland has had all sorts of legal trouble and admitted he’s back to boxing because he needs the money (never a good sign). He’s still not training with Wolfe, which is a shame. It would be nice to see him make one last run with the woman who got him to the top.
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