WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev won't be facing Canelo Alvarez after all, instead choosing to face mandatory challenger Anthony Yarde.
Kovalev will defend his title Yarde at the Traktor Arena in Chelyabinsk, Russia on August 24. The fight will not only be the Russian's first title defense since winning the belt back in February, but it also means that Kovalev will not fight unified middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez this September after the two engaged in talks in recent weeks.
Both Alvarez and Kovalev attempted to make a fight possible after talks between Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin fell through. Alvarez then attempted to have a fight against Kovalev that would have the Mexican go up two weight classes, but both sides were millions of dollars apart from striking a deal.
Back in March, the WBO ordered the two boxers to undergo negotiations, but after an initial purse bid was ordered, it appeared that they agreed to terms on a deal after Bob Arum said the fight would be headed to Russia. But talks then stalled on trying to secure a date and venue and as such, the status of the fight was up in the air before finally securing everything.
Kovalev won the WBO title last February when he defeated Eleider Alvarez by unanimous decision in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing card that was streamed on ESPN+. Kovalev is currently in his third world title reign as the WBO champion at 175 pounds.
Yarde is a 27-year-old fighter from the United Kingdom who has won all 18 of his fights since making his pro debut back in 2015. Yarde won the WBO European and WBO Intercontinental light heavyweight titles in 2017, making multiple defenses of each title, and is coming off a fifth-round stoppage win over Travis Reeves on March 8.