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'I dedicate this fight to Dadashev': Champion Kovalev honors deceased boxer after WBO title defence

'I dedicate this fight to Dadashev': Champion Kovalev honors deceased boxer after WBO title defence
WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev dedicated his 11th round KO win over Anthony Yarde on Saturday to Maxim Dadashev, a Russian boxer who died of injuries sustained during a fight in July aged 28.

READ MORE: 'We want to unify the division & fight Canelo': Kovalev reveals plans after Yarde KO promise

Kovalev made the first defence in his third reign as champion, sending the previously unbeaten Englishman to the canvas in the 11th round, forcing the referee to wave off a barnstorming fight between two huge punchers.

After the fight, Kovalev gave a few words to the partizan crowd at 'Traktor' Ice Palace in his Chelyabinsk hometown.

"Guys thank you, for your support," the 36-year-old champion said before turning his attention to a more sombre matter. "I would like to dedicated this fight to Maxim Dadashev," he said. 

Dadashev died after being stopped in the 11th round by Subriel Matias, having lost consciousness after their bout in Maryland, USA. It was later revealed he had suffered a stroke during the fight after shipping heavy punishment. 

On Saturday, Kovalev moved to 34-3-1 with 29 knockouts with his latest dramatic early win against Yarde, who will surely come again at world level after his maiden shot at a world title, having had Kovalev in trouble in the eighth round.

As it happened, it was Yarde's inexperience in the championship rounds that saw the 28-year-old tire and ship heavy punishment, and a stern straight left from Kovalev was enough to send the Brit to the canvas and out for the count in the 11th.

For Kovalev, he pulled through on his promise to knock Yarde out, and now the 36-year-old sets up perhaps a mega fight with Mexican superstar Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez.

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