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At one point, Sergey Kovalev, the man who’s been one of the best light heavyweights of the past decade, was in line to get a shot at middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez for what would have been a tremendous payday and plenty of exposure. Instead, that potential fight has fallen through (for now, anyway), and Kovalev will have to settle for facing Anthony Yarde in a fight you can live stream on ESPN+.
You’ve almost certainly heard of Alvarez. You might not know anything about Yarde. But Yarde is good enough to make Kovalev’s life complicated, and he puts in doubt any potential Kovalev clash with Alvarez. That’s because Yarde might be better than anybody thinks and because he actually has a chance to spring the upset against Kovalev and take his 175-pound title. That’s why this fight is worth watching.
Here’s how to live stream the Kovalev vs. Yarde fight on ESPN+.
Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde
- When: Saturday, Aug. 24 at 12:30pm ET
- Where: Traktor Arena in Chelyabinsk, Russia
- Streaming: ESPN+
Kovalev vs. Yarde live stream: Watch Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+
Since it was introduced in April 2018, ESPN+ has been a great value for boxing fans. Thanks to its partnership with the Top Rank promotional company, ESPN has had the chance to use both the broadcast network and the paywall on the app to showcase its top fighters and prospects. Terence Crawford has fought on ESPN+. So has Tyson Fury and Vasiliy Lomachenko. Michael Conlan and Shakur Stevenson, two of the most visible undefeated prospects, also have been broadcast on both platforms. Now, it’s Kovalev’s turn.
It’s the cheapest way to stream boxing on a monthly or annual basis. ESPN+ used to give a free seven-day trial, but that’s gone away for now. Either way, subscribers can pay $4.99 per month or $49.99 for the entire year. You’re allowed to cancel at any time.
There’s plenty more to enjoy about ESPN+ then just boxing. Basically, ESPN+ is an extension of the main ESPN app, and aside from boxing, it shows other original programming and a variety of live sports that you normally wouldn’t see on ESPN broadcasts. The ESPN+ exclusive content is designated by the “E+” logo in the corner of the preview tile. For example, you can watch all the UFC PPVs there, and you’ll get 20 exclusive UFC Fight Night events per year along with plenty of NHL games, MLB contests, wall-to-wall soccer, and a ton of college sports. You’ll also be able to watch the entire 30 for 30 catalog on demand.
Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde: Why it matters
It wouldn’t be a huge shock to believe that Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 knockouts) could be looking past Yarde (18-0, 17 KOs). And from his perspective, it sort of makes sense.
First, Kovalev would like that fight vs. Alvarez, and reportedly, those original negotiations included offering Yarde step-aside money. (Basically, Yarde, who is Kovalev’s mandatory opponent for his 175-pound title, would get paid to allow Kovalev to take another fight.) But to get that bout for later this year, he’ll now need to beat Yarde.
Secondly (and much more disturbingly), Kovalev continues to have alleged problems with women. He’s facing a felony assault charge after allegedly punching a woman after trying to have sex with her, and last month, he had to be removed from a plane in Florida after he allegedly “kissed and threw money at a female passenger.”
Kovalev is 36 years old, and even though he scored a nice victory in February by beating Eleider Alvarez in a rematch, he’s still lost three of his last six fights and his skills might be declining. Combine that with all of his distractions, and this Saturday’s fight might be more interesting than he wants it to be. He’s also fighting in his hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia, and it’s unclear how that will affect him.
“Sergey has done just about everything a professional fighter can do, other than fight in his own hometown,” his promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events, said in a statement. “One of the sport’s greatest road warriors, Sergey will finally get the chance to salute his legion of fans in Chelyabinsk, where he grew up. It will be an exciting, long overdue homecoming for Sergey.”
Yarde will try to make it as painful as possible. Though he’s not well known, Yarde is only a +135 underdog, meaning you’d win $135 on him by wagering $100. His resume is unimpressive—good luck recognizing any of the names of the boxers he’s beaten. Still, Yarde is confident.
“The vibration I’m getting is that he doesn’t really want to fight me,” Yarde said, via the Sun. “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.”
Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde live stream schedule
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Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.