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Anthony Yarde says facing Russian Sergey Kovalev is nothing compared to being held at gun point

Anthony Yarde says facing Russian Sergey Kovalev is nothing compared to being held at gun point


Anthony Yarde holds no fears about fighting in deepest darkest Russia – because he once stared down the barrel of a gun and survived to tell the tale.

The 28-year-old has trekked 3,000 miles from east London to Chelyabinsk, a city 33 hours from the capital Moscow by train, to challenge formidable world champion Sergey Kovalev on Saturday night.

In the opposite corner, Kovalev, 36, will make the short half-hour drive from his hometown of Kopeysk as he bids to swat aside the British upstart.

Yarde’s mere 30 fights as both an amateur and professional appear scant preparation compared to the champion’s 28 knockouts from 33 victories, including a brutal stoppage of Nathan Cleverly in 2013.

But more recent defeats by Andre Ward and Eleider Alvarez have bolstered Yarde’s belief that he and his small but loyal team can successfully infiltrate enemy territory.

The heavyweight takes on Kovalev in his Russian homeland on Saturday

And the unbeaten light-heavyweight is no stranger to overcoming the odds having grown up on the gang-ridden streets of Hackney.

“I saw a lot of bad things happen by people I know and to people I know,” says Yarde. “There were a lot of different gangs around and sometimes you found yourself in conflict.

“I found myself attracting negative things because I was in a negative environment, I was pre-determining this stuff before it happened.

“One day guns were pulled on us by older guys. My friend had gone to sell his moped and they took the moped, my friend’s phone and some money.

Anthony Yarde says facing Russian Sergey Kovalev is nothing compared to being held at gun point
Yarde revealed stories of growing up in Hackney when it was troubled with gang conflict

“But all he got from my pocket was a tub of Vaseline. I remember him saying, ‘Oh, he’s a sweet boy’ and throwing my Vaseline on the floor.

“But now I’m on a straight path and when you think about positive things, positive things follow you.”

Like so many before him, Yarde found safety inside the ropes, but not before he had displayed promise across the sporting spectrum.

As a teenager he had trials with Queens Park Rangers and Harlequins and ran the 100 metre sprint in under 11 seconds, but it was to the ring he turned to re-route his destiny.

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Three unlicensed fights convinced Yarde of his potential but his amateur career comprised of just a dozen bouts before he grew frustrated at perceived ducking by potential opponents.

His professional career makes for equally brief reading; 51 rounds over 18 fights, 17 of which have been halted by brute force.

But Yarde will allow neither his lack of experience nor his journey into the unknown to derail him from the task at hand.

“We have given ourselves enough time to acclimatise, get used to the atmosphere and get the mind right,” he says. “Then come fight night I will go out there and do the job.

Anthony Yarde says facing Russian Sergey Kovalev is nothing compared to being held at gun point
Yarde is confident of a win

“I’ll just adapt. Food wise, I’ll try and find a supermarket and try and find things that don’t look too foreign. I’ll have normal food; tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, chicken and fish.

“We’ll see when we get there, but this is part of the excitement, we don’t know what we’re going to get.

“He’s thinking, ‘This guy has only had 18 professional fights, he only had 12 amateur fights and I’m a future Hall of Famer, I can’t let this kid come and beat me’.

“But that’s what’s going to happen.”

Yarde vs Kovalev will be live on BT Sport 2 on Saturday.



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