by Cliff Rold

Pick It: TBRB #2 Sergey Kovalev vs. #10 Anthony Yarde (Saturday, ESPN+, 12:30 PM EST)

Note the early start time as this one will be live from Russia. Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KO) is once again the WBO light heavyweight titlist after reversing the course of what appeared to be the new narrative of his career.

He’d gone from the fighter who many felt had won the first Andre Ward to a twice-stopped bully who had been ‘exposed.’

In February, Kovalev reminded everyone just how good a boxer he is beyond his fearsome punch, rebounding from a knockout loss to Eleider Alvarez with a masterful schooling over twelve rounds. Can he turn in another gem against a dangerous young puncher in Yarde (18-0, 17 KO)? Light heavyweight is one of the bright spots in the ESPN cabinet. This is another solid matchup in that division.

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Additional Shows to Watch For

Thursday – Facebook Watch (10 PM EST): Feliciano vs. Gamez

Golden Boy has an interesting pair of clashes between undefeated prospects on tap before we get to the weekend. At welterweight, 29-year old Philly native Blair Cobbs (11-0-1, 7 KO) squares off with 28-year old Steve Villalobos (11-0-1, 9 KO) of Mount Vernon, Washington. The Jr. welterweight main event pits 24-year old Genaro Gamez (9-0, 6 KO) of San Diego against 26-year old Luis Feliciano (12-0, 8 KO) of Rancho Cucamonga, California. Is there a future champion in the mix? Barring draws, two young men will take an early step back from the question.

Friday – Showtime (10 PM EST): Shishkin vs. Ware

ShoBox is almost always worth a look with a roster of enviable future champions passing through over the years. This week, the main event at super middleweight should be interesting. Russia’s 28-year old Vladimir Shishkin (8-0, 5 KO) isn’t being coddled early on. 31-year old Toldeo hopeful DeAndre Ware (13-1-2, 8 KO) has struggled in each of his last three fights and faces his fourth undefeated foe. This could be a real test for both men.

Friday – UFC Fight Pass (10 PM EST): Nova vs. Beltran Jr.

Wearing his promoter hat, Roy Jones might have something in 25-year old Puerto Rican Jr. lightweight Abraham Nova (15-0, 11 KO). 30-year old veteran Miguel Beltran Jr. (33-7, 22 KO) of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, has only been stopped twice.

Saturday – DAZN (7 PM EST): Estrada (Champion) vs. Beamon

Jr. bantamweight remains one of boxing’s best and deepest weight classes. Saturday, its current kingpin is taking what looks like a victory lap. In 2019, can anything be taken for granted? Mexico’s 29-year old Juan Francisco Estrada enters off the biggest win of his career, avenging a loss and lifting the crown from Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in April. 34-year old challenger Dewayne Beamon (16-1-1, 11 KO) of North Carolina avenged his only loss in his last fight and has never been stopped but he’s making the biggest step up in his career.

Saturday – UFC Fight Pass (10 PM EST): Coyle vs. Ramirez

29-year old Irishman Connor Coyle (10-0, 3 KO) isn’t a contender yet at middleweight but he’s being matched smart early in his career with an eye on seeing if he can be. 39-year old Rafael Ramirez (21-4-2, 4 KO) is 3-0 with 1 No Contest since returning from a long layoff in 2017.   

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at [email protected]

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