SERGEY KOVALEV will snub a mega-fight with Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in order to face WBO mandatory Anthony Yarde.
Londoner Yarde, 27, has been in line to face the light-heavyweight champion since becoming mandatory challenger in March.
But the proposed June fight was delayed and three-weight world champion Canelo has since called out Kovalev in a bid to become a four-division champion.
Yarde and promoter Frank Warren were willing to take step-aside money and face the winner – but promoter Kathy Duva confirmed to World Boxing News Kovalev will instead face the unbeaten Brit.
Duva said: “The Yarde deal is getting done. After all the talk, Golden Boy never made a serious offer.
“They never offered us an acceptable amount for Sergey to fight Canelo in September.
“When you consider that Danny Jacobs was paid $15 million to fight Canelo. Golovkin is reportedly promised over $25 million. And Jarrell Miller was getting something like $6.5 million to face Joshua.
“And Joshua is a guy who is barely known in the US – so it makes you wonder.
“As things stand, Sergey would love to fight Canelo. But Golden Boy and DAZN are going to have to get serious if they really want the fight to happen.”
Yarde is set to travel to Russia in September in order to challenge former unified champion Kovalev.
Duva insisted Canelo could face Kovalev in December, revealing the Russian wants to stay active having boxed twice in 12 months.
She added: “Perhaps, with some more time to sort things out, Golden Boy and DAZN can find a way to get this done later in the year. I hope so. But, in any event, Sergey is going to have to move forward with plans to fight Yarde in Russia in the meantime,” said Duva.
“Golden Boy has left us with no other alternative for the summer (but to fight Yarde).”
Asked whether they considered asking Yarder to wait, Duva concluded. “No, there were never any talks of putting off the Yarde fight if a September fight between Sergey and Canelo was to materialize.
“Sergey wants to stay active so later in the year could work.”
Canelo added the IBF title to his collection of WBA and WBO middleweight belts after outpointing Daniel Jacobs in May in Las Vegas.
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The 28-year-old looked in line to face arch rival Gennady Golovkin in a trilogy bout this year, having drawn and then beaten the former middleweight king last year.
Canelo defeated Brit Rocky Fielding in December to claim the WBA’s understudy world title and in doing so cemented his name as a three-weight world champion.
The Kovalev fight would offer Canelo the opportunity to become a four-weight world champion, and follow in the footsteps of Mexican legends Julio Cesar Chavez, Marco Antonio Barrera, Jose Luis Castillo and Juan Manuel Marquez.