Sergey Kovalev has insisted he is “not a prostitute” and refuses to bow to any games played by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s team for a possible fight with the Mexican superstar after defending his WBO light heavyweight title.
Kovalev defeated British contender Anthony Yarde by 11th-round technical knockout in a back-and-forth war at ‘Traktor’ Ice Arena in his hometown of Chelyabinsk on Saturday for his first title defence in his third reign as 175lbs champ.
After the fight, ‘Krusher’ seemed relieved to get the victory on the night, and addressed speculation over a matchup with Canelo, saying the Mexican’s team had tried to manipulate him into accepting a considerable amount to face their man.
‘I’m not a prostitute that holds out for a wad of cash’ Sergey @KrusherKovalev makes it clear he wants @Canelo fight on his terms following KO victory over Anthony Yarde pic.twitter.com/12kRWuAbXj
— RT Sport (@RTSportNews) August 27, 2019
“I’m glad that you liked [the fight]. I’m a little bit tired but it was already the second preparation for this fight. I had to push myself,” Kovalev said, addressing the timing of the offer from Canelo’s team.
“Purely on experience I managed to grab the fight and see where to land my punches in the right places. Thank God it came together. It was experience. It was luck. It was the support of my hometown.”
Canelo’s people had approached Kovalev while the Russian was in training camp for that fight with a significant offer to face their man, but Kovalev insisted he had promised his countrymen a performance in his hometown and that he isn’t a “prostitute”, and so declined.
“Of course I want the fight with Canelo. If he’s open to that fight then it will happen. However, they also played this game very cunningly. They pressured me right at the end of my training camp with an offer that was very hard to refuse,” Kovalev said.
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“I’ve never seen such an offer. But I’m not a prostitute that holds out for a wad of cash. I had already promised the people of Chelyabinsk that I would be here. Everything was already organized, tickets had been sold. It would have been awkward for me to come here again after such behavior.”
On Saturday, the previously unbeaten Yarde, 18-1 with 17 knockouts, answered pre-fight doubts as to his ability to cope at world level despite never having faced a fighter of Kovalev’s caliber by almost stopping the veteran champion in the 8th round.
READ MORE: Krushed! Champion Sergey Kovalev KOs Anthony Yarde in the 11th to retain WBO world title in Russia
In the end Kovalev’s power and experience in the championship rounds showed as he recovered to overwhelm and eventually stop an exhausted Yarde with a single straight left hand, to bring the fight with Canelo one step closer.
There are other options for Kovalev beside Canelo however; including a unification fight with fellow countryman and WBA champion Dmitry Bivol, which the two have conditionally agreed to over social media; as well as the winner between another Russian, IBF ruler Artur Beterbiev and Ukrainian WBC holder Oleksandr Gvozdyk in another unification fight in October.