Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Kovalev-Yarde, Canelo vs. Krusher, GGG-Derevyanchenko, El Gallo)
KOVALEV VS. YARDE
I just wanted to write you in anticipation of the Sergey Kovalev vs Anthony Yarde fight.
I think this is a great fight, one that seems to be flying under the radar a bit. Kovalev is coming off a great performance, avenging his loss in a technical, well-rounded performance. He was throwing a lot of shots, moving around the ring really well, and just looked to have his mojo back. That being said Alvarez turned in a puzzling performance, not throwing nearly enough punches and showing no urgency. Some of that has to be attributed to Kovalev’s movement and busy punching but still, I felt Alvarez was sub-par that night.
Then we have Yarde, an explosive athlete with an avante-garde training style that has a lot of old school guys skeptical. He hasn’t fought anyone nearly as talented or as seasoned as the Krusher, and he’s going to Russia for the big leap. Personally, if I was managing the Lion, I’d want a couple more stepping stone fights before taking on Kovalev (gatekeeper types like a Isaac Chilemba or Darnell Boone maybe) but then again, I’m no manager and obviously his team knows him way better than I do. Also, it’s kind of refreshing seeing a hot young fighter demand to see one of the baddest men in the division, and make the trip to his backyard to do it. Yarde is confident and itching to go. I’m excited for the guy and will be rooting for him.
As for the fight itself, Kovalev is rightly the favorite but I think Yarde is definitely “live.” Yarde has serious power and I could definitely see him catching Kovalev with an explosive counter. I also think if he can get on the inside he’ll have a lot of success with his strong squat frame and short little power punches. Lastly, I think it’s fair to say Kovalev is a bit more vulnerable to body shots than most champions, and Yarde has shown flashes of a brilliant body attack. That could be a big X factor in the fight.
The biggest factor though is obviously the experience gap. I’ve heard Yarde doesn’t do much hard sparring at all and he has very little amateur experience. He’s never been in the ring with someone near Kovalev’s level and he might just find himself unprepared to deal with this level of precise power punching. Kovalev is great at drawing opponents’ reactions out with lots of little feints and he might be able to toy with Yarde’s somewhat rehearsed Philly shell defense. That style of defense seems to have a lot of prefigured slips to it and I could see Kovalev picking up on it; feinting, knowing where Yarde’s head slot will slip to, then smacking him in the head with a hard Krusher right. Will Yarde be able to take many flush Kovalev punches? He seems like a tough guy but Kovalev’s been known to KO tough guys. Yarde will have to be able to eat a few to stay in the fight long enough to find his own opportunities.
Anyways, can’t wait to see how it plays out. – Jack E.
It’s a fascinating matchup. I can understand why so many fans, including you, are giving Yarde a good shot at upsetting the veteran titleholder. He’s just got “that look” about him when he fights. He’s passes the eye test with his powerful, athletic build and explosive (but calculating) style. By contrast, Kovalev looks rather slow and methodical. You know that old boxing adage: Speed kills.
But here’s my question: How fast and fluid is Yarde going to be if he winds up eating Kovalev’s jab for three or four rounds? I think Kovalev’s key to victory is that left stick of his and Buddy McGirt has been successful at getting the surly Russian to recommit to his jab (as well as the feints that helped him setup his vaunted power shots during the peak of his previous title run). I can see Yarde clipping Kovalev early, but I can also envision the 36-year-old boxer-puncher taking the British up-and-comer into deep water and drowning him.
We’ll see how it plays out tomorrow. We’re either going to get a new light heavyweight player, or we’re going to hear a lot of fans and pundits criticize Frank Warren and Team Yarde for not developing Anthony better by testing him against quality opposition during his climb up the rankings.
WHAT ARE THE BOOKIES THINKING?
I hope you and your family are well.
I just wanted to get your thoughts on the Kovalev-Yarde fight.
I really hope I’m wrong, as I love an underdog, but I just can’t see how Yarde has any chance, when you compare their records.
Yarde had 12 amateur fights. As a pro, 9 of his first 10 opponents had losing records, and the rest aren’t worth mentioning either. He has never gone 12 rounds and his best win was probably Travis Reeves, who I think didn’t start boxing until he was in his 30s.
Now compare that to Kovalev’s record.
Kov had 213 amateur fights. As a pro, he is a 3-time world champion, with wins over Cleverly, Hopkins, Pascal (twice) and Alvarez. He’s also shared the ring, on 2 occasions, with the outstanding Andre ‘Can’t Do No Wrong’ Ward.
When I take the above into account, I’m struggling to understand why Kovalev isn’t an overwhelming favourite with the bookies.
Also, taking the above into account, I don’t think Yarde needs to win to gain respect. A valiant effort, putting up a good fight, would be all he needs to gain respect from the fans, fellow fighters and everyone else in the industry. It may be a cliche, but sometimes you can take a victory from defeat.
Thanks for your time. Lions in camp 😀 Chris M. – Nottingham, UK
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Chris. You make a lot of really good points. Kovalev should be a BIG favorite over Yarde given the disparity in their experience. However, at some point in a veteran’s career being battle tested becomes being battle WORN. Yarde is inexperienced compared to Kovalev but he’s also a lot fresher/better preserved and in his athletic prime (at age 28).
Although Kovalev looked sharp in his last bout, he’s 36 and his peak years were probably 2013-2014. Alvarez wasn’t able to land the money shot during the rematch but that doesn’t mean Yarde won’t.
I agree that Yarde can gain respect even if he falls short against Kovalev as long as he puts forth a strong effort. He pulls off the upset, I look forward to some interesting WBO title defenses (probably against former 168-pound beltholder Gilberto Ramirez or Jesse Hart). If Kovalev takes care of business maybe we’ll see him in a big showdown with Canelo Alvarez in three months. If not, I’m hoping he seeks to re-unify the belts against Dmitry Bivol and/or the Gvozdyk-Beterbiev winner.
HI-TECH VS. THE PACMAN
Mythical Matchup: Lomachenko moves up to 147 to fight Pacquiao.
How does it go down? Regards. – Bart, the Netherlands
If you’re talking about the kind of mythical matchup of the fighters at their best fighting at a particular weight, I gotta go with Pacquiao by mid-rounds KO. At his best at welterweight (2009-2010) he was as fast and nimble as an elite featherweight with world-class 147-pound power and a very high punch output. He had also developed into a complete boxer-puncher by this point in his career. It would only be a matter of time before he clipped Loma.
If you’re asking me what would happen if the current lightweight champ were to jump to welterweight to fight the current, 40-year-old version of Pac (who is still world-class and dangerous but clearly not the dynamic offensive force he was 10 years ago), I favor Lomachenko, who I believe would be too fast, elusive and creative for the all-time great, and would win on points.
KOVALEV, GGG AND EL GALLO
Hope you’re doing well, just wanted to give my 2 cents on recent developments and fights that are on the schedule.
This Saturday should be interesting. I still don’t have a good feel of where Sergei Kovalev is at after losing by KO and then coming back to avenge his loss. I want to see where he’s at before making a solid prediction of what would happen if he fights Canelo. I do think that the Kovalev that avenged his loss vs Alvarez would outbox Canelo in a very similar way Spence beat Mikey. In other words, size and technique would triumph over youth and talent. I think it’s a terrible matchup for Canelo if Sergei is anywhere close to that version of himself. But well, there must be something they’re seeing that I’m not as I don’t see why they would do that big jump. Don’t get me wrong, I love this. I’ll stay consistent with this kind of thing, even though Garcia’s effort vs Errol was not great, I still like the fact that he tried. If he would’ve won and if Canelo wins, these are the fights that bring the biggest glory.
As for GGG; I like this fight vs Derevyanchenko. I think it’s also a good fight to measure where he’s at, and I’m sure Canelo will be watching closely. I don’t buy that he doesn’t want to fight him, I think he just wants to punish him mentally as he genuinely hates him. I favor GGG by decision vs Derevyanchenko in a jabfest. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a tougher than expected fight, I also wouldn’t be surprised if GGG storms him. Overall, I’m happy with it, I like to see new fights. I’m not exactly waiting for a third Canelo-GGG fight. Even though they were very good fights, we’ve already seen them and there’s plenty of challengers out there waiting their turn. I don’t think it’s fair for those guys to be waiting for these guys, especially in an age where they’re only fighting twice a year.
Is it me or Juan Francisco Estrada feels kind of shaky? I don’t know, I think he’s definitely very talented, but is a guy that’s close to being upset by a younger stronger guy. I still think he’s definitely in the top 15 in the world and would love to see a rubbermatch vs Sor Rungvisai; the rematch was much closer than people say, and Rungvisai was coming on in the later rounds. I favor the Thai fighter in the rubbermatch if it ever happens, as he wouldn’t wait that much and would get going from the beginning instead of warming up for 6 rounds. What do you think?
Thanks Doug, see you soon. – Juan Valverde, San Diego
I view Estrada-Sor Rungvisai as a toss-up. SSR at his relentless best can outpoint Estrada, but I wonder if we’ll ever see the Thai tank in top form against. There’s a lot of wear and tear on the former Ring champ and I think he struggles to make 115. Estrada seems to be the fresher of the two, but lacking Sor Rungvisai’s crunching power, he’s had to go more rounds, so there’s significant mileage on the 29-year-old’s odometer, too.
He’s gone the 12-round distance with Roman Gonzalez, Brian Viloria, Carlos Cuadras and twice with Sor Rungvisai. Like I mentioned earlier about Kovalev, at some point battle tested becomes battle worn. Estrada’s not as old as Kovalev, but 29 for flyweights is like the mid-30s for the heavyweight classes. I think JFE was at his peak in 2014 and 2015 when he was grinding down Giovani Segura and Tyson Marquez to late stoppages.
Having said that, Estrada is a complete fighter and a proud competitor. I think he might struggle a bit against unheralded opposition but will bring his A-game against the elite fighters of the deep 115-pound division. I would favor him to beat my beloved Chocolatito in a rematch, as well as fellow veteran Donnie Nietes and beltholders Kal Yafai and Jerwin Ancajas. A showdown with Kazuto Ioka is another toss-up in my opinion. But I don’t see him getting dominated by any of the top dogs and I don’t think we’ll witness an upset tomorrow night or against any underdog any time soon.
This Saturday should be interesting. I still don’t have a good feel of where Sergei Kovalev is at after losing by KO and then coming back to avenge his loss. I guess that’s just the cross that Krusher must bear for as long as he remains in boxing. Nobody’s been sure of where his head’s at or what he’s capable of since the back-to-back losses to Can Do No Wrong. I gotta tell ya, I’m not looking forward to the four-way psychoanalysis on Kovalev that ESPN’s broadcast booth is going to shove down our throats throughout tomorrow’s show.
I want to see where he’s at before making a solid prediction of what would happen if he fights Canelo. One fight at a time, Juan.
I do think that the Kovalev that avenged his loss vs Alvarez would outbox Canelo in a very similar way Spence beat Mikey. I think Spence is more talented than Kovalev and Canelo is better at slipping punches than Garcia.
I think it’s a terrible matchup for Canelo if Sergei is anywhere close to that version of himself. You’re one of the few fans that sees it this way. Most of the social media and comment-section reaction to this potential matchup seems to suggest that Canelo is “cherry picking” an easy mark.
But well, there must be something they’re seeing that I’m not as I don’t see why they would do that big jump. They must not see a complete fighter in Kovalev (who does lack an strong inside game), or they believe he’s far enough past his prime to be physically pushed over the edge with the right tactics. Who knows? I agree with you, even a 36-year-old Kovalev is dangerous, especially against a short guy who’s never fought above 170 pounds.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this. I’ll stay consistent with this kind of thing, even though Garcia’s effort vs Errol was not great, I still like the fact that he tried. I would have preferred a 135-pound unficiation showdown with Loma, but yeah, ballsy move by Mikey.
If he would’ve won and if Canelo wins, these are the fights that bring the biggest glory. True. One had to dare to be great by taking risks.
As for GGG; I like this fight vs Derevyanchenko. It should be just as physical as it is technical. It’s got “battle of attrition” written all over it.
I think it’s also a good fight to measure where he’s at, and I’m sure Canelo will be watching closely. I don’t know about that. Canelo hates Golovkin so much, he may not want to watch his rival fight, but Eddy Reynoso will definitely be taking notes.
I don’t buy that he doesn’t want to fight him, I think he just wants to punish him mentally as he genuinely hates him. I agree.
I favor GGG by decision vs Derevyanchenko in a jabfest. Me too. I think he busts the Ukrainian’s face up pretty good in the process, but he’ll also take some lumps.
Overall, I’m happy with it, I like to see new fights. Same here. The middleweight division can be one of the hottest weight classes in boxing if there’s a round robin between the top six or seven.
I’m not exactly waiting for a third Canelo-GGG fight. I’m OK with the rivalry taking a break in 2019. I respect the fighters and I love the matchup, but I can’t stand the diehard fans of either middleweight star.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and watch him on Periscope every Sunday from SMC track.