The WBO have officially ordered Sergey Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) to defend his world light-heavyweight championship against undefeated British contender Anthony Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs).
The order was issued after the 27-year-old from Ilford successfully defended his WBO Inter-Continental title with a routine fifth round TKO of American Travis Reeves on March 8 at the historic Royal Albert Hall in Kensington.
Yarde, unbeaten in 18 bouts with 17 of those coming via stoppage victories, has catapulted up the 175lbs rankings after just four years as a professional, and a very limited amateur career that saw him in just a dozen contests.
The Hackney-born heavy-hitter will now have 30 days to agree terms to face fearsome power-puncher Kovalev in his maiden world title challenge.
Trained byTunde Ajayi at the Peacock Gym , Yarde has been largely criticised for not stepping up in competition so far in his pro career, but now challenges one of the most formidible fighters in the world of boxing today.
Kovalev is regarded as one of the sport’s most devastating punchers, but has only won half of his last six contests, citing criticism that, at the age of 35, he is on the slide. Two of those defeats were to one of the greatest of all-time in Andre Ward, which carries no shame at all, and his other reverse was a shock seventh-round KO defeat to unbeaten Eleider Alvarez (23-0) in August 2018, which he avenged with a wide points win six months later in February this year.
The Russian ‘Krusher’ looked back to his best against the Columbian in the rematch, but tight team Yarde and Ajayi will hope to exploit any lingering frailties in Kovalev’s make-up. Yarde is young and fresh, with only 51 rounds of punishment compared to Kov's 161.
Should the two sides be unable to reach a deal in the next 30 days, the contest will go to purse bids. Considering promoter Frank Warren’s close ties to the WBO, it's very likely that the fight could be staged in the UK, most likely in London where Yarde could draw a big crowd.