Unbeaten contender Anthony Yarde hopes to challenge WBO world light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev by the end of 2019.
Yarde (17-0, 16 KOs), 27, faces Travis Reeves (17-3-2, 7 KOs), from Baltimore, on Saturday in a ten-round light-heavyweight contest at Royal Albert Hall in London, England, which will be streamed live on ESPN+ in the US and on BT Sport in the UK.
The Londoner is No. 1 with the WBO and is focusing on dethroning Kovalev, who impressively regained the WBO title in a rematch with Eleider Alvarez last month, after his contest with Reeves rather than pursuing domestic clash with English rival Joshua Buatsi.
“I think it [facing Kovalev] can happen this year,” Yarde told ESPN.
“I’m mandatory challenger now which is a fantastic position to be in especially with someone with my background of only 12 amateur fights before turning professional [in May 2015]. That’s motivating me and showing me the level I’m at now.
“I was offered the Kovalev fight in 2018 but my manager and promoter agreed it wasn’t the fight time for me to be challenging for a world title then. I needed a few more tune-up fights, learning fights, and I’m fine with that.
“There are still some questions to be answered with my experience. I’m a fighter, I will fight anyone, and I feel like I’m ready. It’s in my nature to be ready to fight anybody but my promoter [Frank Warren] is trying to steer my career in the best possible way.
“It’s about getting in there and being ready, getting the fight on your terms, taking the least amount of punishment possible.
“I want to have a 10-year-plus career, I’m three years in now and I feel like it’s coming, I’m close to it.
“That time is very near where I’m in the spotlight and I think it’s definitely possible for me to be world champion soon. I’m looking to fight for a world title by the end of 2019. Buatsi is a future competitor, I’m ahead of him right now, and I’m happy for that to keep brewing. There’s no rush for it now.”
Reeves has registered two points wins since being stopped in the last round by Karo Murat almost a year ago and Yarde considers him a worthy opponent for this stage in his career.
“I definitely think he’s a step up and I want to make a good impression on ESPN and impress an American audience,” Yarde added.
“I’m exciting to watch, I know people out and I’m in a good position with the WBO but my opponent comes to win and I have to keep doing my job in the ring if I want all of this to happen.”