At Traktor Sports Palace, Chelyabinsk, Russia, over ESPN+ Top Rank Boxing brought together WBO Light Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev who defended his title knocking out his top contender Anthony Yarde, of Essex, UK. In the co-feature cruiserweight Aleksei Papin, of Reutov, Russia, lost a majority decision to for the WBC Silver title held by Ilunga “Junior” Makabu, of Rep of Congo and residing in Johannesburg, RSA.
WBO Light Heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, 34-3-1 (29), #174.6, of Russia residing in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, stopped his No. 1 contender Anthony Yarde, 18-0 (17), of Ilford, Essex, UK, at 2:12 of the eleventh round.
In the first round Kovalev controlled with his jab as the defense minded Yarde rarely throws anything more than a jab. In the second round and third rouinds it was give and take with each taking a round. In the fourth round Kovalev dominated with his jab with rights landing. Yarde landed good left hooks but too sparingly.
In the fifth round Kovalev’s jab snapped back the head of Yarde numerous times. Yarde looked fatigued having never gone beyond seven rounds in his career. In the sixth round Yarde’s mouthpiece was knocked out by a Kovalev jab. Kovalev kept Yarde on the defense.
In the seventh round Yarde went to the body of Kovalev who tried holding him off with the jab. In the eighth round Yarde continued pressing Kovalev and hurt him halfway through the round and had him holding on.
In the ninth round it was all Kovalev with Yarde pounding his on chest instead of fighting back. In the tenth round Kovalev’s tape is still hanging from his right hand from the previous round but referee Labon is ignoring it. Kovalev battered Yarde in the second half of the round having him out off his feet at the bell.
In the eleventh round a solid jab followed by a right dropped Yarde for the count.
In the co-feature No. 14 IBF ranked cruiserweight Aleksei Papin, 11-1 (10), of Reutov, Russia, lost an exciting majority decision to No. 12 WBO ranked southpaw Ilunga “Junior” Makabu, 26-2 (24), of Democratic Republic of Congo and residing in Johannesburg, RSA, over 12 rounds.
In the first round Makabu was the busier of the two until the final seconds of the round when Papin rocked him with a right on the chin making him stumble back when the round ended. In the second round both had their moments but Papin was busier. At one time in the round they landed solid punches at the same time.
In the fourth round Makabu continued to come forward. Papin had Makabu hurt with a right on the chin but Makabu came right back. Makabu only uses his left to jab. Papin has been warned several times for leaning on the back of Makabu when he comes in low. Then Makabu was warned for a low blow giving Papin several minutes to re-cooperate.
In the fifth round at the halfway point Makabu rocked Papin with a left on the chin wobbling his legs. Makabu worked the body of Papin well. In the sixth round both had their moments but Papin outworked Makabu.
In the seventh round Papin did more backing up and moving having gotten hurt with body shots from Makabu. Papin landed several solid rights halting Makabu in his tracks but too infrequent.
In the eighith round Papin was slowing down having never gone beyond six rounds before. Makabu is also spent but outlanding Papin throughout the round. In the ninth round Papin came back well. Makabu again taken to the corner two rounds in a well with loose tape.
In the tenth round Papin took the first half while Makabu came back taking the second half of the round. In the eleventh round both were letting as much as they had left go. Papin did well but got hurt in the final ten seconds and had to hold on until the bell sounded.
In the twelfth and final round Makabu was having his way and drove Papin into the ropes and down. The referee called it a knockdown. Papin came back strong having Makabu on shaky legs at the bell.
Scores were 115-113 twice and 113-113 while this writer had it 115-112 for the winner.
Heavyweight Evgeny Romanov, 15-0 (10), of Volograd, Russia, stopped Dario German Balmaceda, 19-18-2 (13), of Cordoba, Argentina, at 2:53 of the first round.
In the first round it was all Romanov who knocked down Balmaceda with a left hook on the chin. Referee Victor Panin waved the mismatch off.