Light heavyweight prospect Anthony Yarde returns to the ring on Friday at Royal Albert Hall, part of a card streaming on ESPN+, in what is expected to essentially be a tune-up fight.
Yarde (17-0, 16 KO) will face 38-year-old American Travis Reeves (17-3-2, 7 KO) in a fight scheduled for 10 rounds, not much of a step up on paper from previous competition that Yarde has already beaten.
But the 27-year-old British fighter has his sights set on something much bigger: a shot at WBO light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev.
“I think it can happen this year. ... I was offered the Kovalev fight in 2018 but my manager and promoter agreed it wasn’t the fight time for me to be challenging for a world title then. I needed a few more tune-up fights, learning fights, and I’m fine with that.”
Yarde says he now feels as though he’s ready for Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KO), who regained the WBO belt with a clinical performance on Feb. 2 against Eleider Alvarez, avenging last August’s knockout loss.
Kovalev, it has to be said, would be a massive step up from the likes of Reeves and Tony Averlant and Nikola Sjekloca, and the Russian veteran would no doubt be a heavy favorite were this fight to actually come together this year.
But Yarde says he wants it. Whether or not his team will think it’s the right time to take the risk is another story, but you do have to sink or swim at some point in the boxing game if you want to be seen as a true top fighter.