sport news Anthony Yarde believes he will fulfill his destiny by beating Sergey Kovalev

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Tucked away under the Newham Way overpass, around a mile from Canning Town tube station, two workers in overalls stand outside a storage unit that promises on-the-spot payments for precious metals interchanging between pulls of their cigarettes and bites of their lunch.

Almost immediately opposite is the quaint but rough and ready Peacock Gym. It stands prominent amid the drab brick and stained shutters of a spate of MOT garages. It was here that the likes of Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno traded leather and sowed the seeds of greatness. And it is in these humble surroundings where Anthony Yarde has evolved into a fighter ready to follow in their footpaths.

The Peacock gym is a peculiar but amiable place where part-time bodybuilders and people who come here simply for the café's soup of the day cross paths with some of the best boxing talent in the country. Yarde walked through these doors for the first time six years ago as a raw 21-year-old who had only been boxing for two years. Last week he was here applying the finishing touches to his preparations for his world title fight in Russia against Sergey Kovalev.

Anthony Yarde's only been boxing for eight years but challenges for a world title on Saturday

Anthony Yarde's only been boxing for eight years but challenges for a world title on Saturday

'It's mad isn't it. When I told people I could get this far, they laughed at me and why wouldn't they?' Yarde tells Sportsmail. 'If a 19-year-old came in here now and said: "I've only just started boxing, but I'm going to be a world champion in eight years" I would call them crazy as well.'

But in that space of time and just 30 competitive fights - 18 as a professional and 12 as an amateur - Yarde finds himself on the cusp of fulfilling that inconceivable fantasy. Only a vicious puncher ominously known as the 'Krusher' stands in the way of it becoming a reality.

Kovalev has reigned supreme in the light-heavyweight land since 2013 and will go down as possibly the best 175lb fighter of his era. Andre Ward, a two-weight unified world champion, has been the only man to ever outclass the Russian inside the ring. Ward achieved this not once, but twice before hanging up the gloves as an undefeated great two years ago. Eleider Alvarez, who caught Kovalev on an off night, is the only other man to beat him, though he couldn't repeat the feat in their rematch, losing a wide unanimous decision the second time around.

Yarde spoke about some of the harrowing things he saw growing up in East London

Yarde spoke about some of the harrowing things he saw growing up in East London

Yarde, who had barely been boxing 24 months by the time Kovalev first won a world title, is under no illusions about the scale of this task. 'It's almost mission impossible,' he says frankly. 'But I love proving people wrong. I thrive off it. And when I do, I will be the most talked about fighter in Britain because no one has done what I'm about to do. I'm going to Russia to fight someone who has been No 1 for a long time, a pound-for-pound great, and I'm going to win, full stop.'

He is already a prized commodity on these shores but victory on Saturday would see him become one of Britain's biggest boxing stars overnight. In his short four years as a professional, Yarde has established himself as one of the most compelling and explosive fighters in Britain. He models himself on his idol Mike Tyson and shares that same devastating power he had in his fists - 17 of Yarde's 18 victims have not stayed upright to hear the final bell.

But for someone so assuredly talented, he remains divisive. His critics will argue that this opportunity has come way too soon, that Yarde has not fought anybody remotely close to the calibre of Kovalev. Put that to him, though, and he bristles at the suggestion he has been spoon-fed uncompetitive opponents. 'I just always look at the facts,' he says.

'Nikola Sjekloca has only lost at world level and I'm the only one to knock him out. I don't listen to people who doubt me. One minute they are with you and the next they are against you. There are people who love me. They say: "Anthony Yarde is the guy. Anthony Yarde is a knockout specialist." There is always going to be balance.' 

Yarde believes he will fulfill his destiny by beating Kovalev in Russia on Saturday

Yarde believes he will fulfill his destiny by beating Kovalev in Russia on Saturday

He spoke about how it took time for his relationship with Tunde Ajayi (2nd Left) to blossom

He spoke about how it took time for his relationship with Tunde Ajayi (2nd Left) to blossom

For a man so young, he takes everything in his stride. In his 27 years, Yarde has seen enough for a life time though. 'I've been in situations where I've been approached with knives, I've had a gun put to me and been in fights where shots have been going off. I've had mates that have been stabbed, done stabbings. I remember being in fights and being tremendously outnumbered and it escalating into

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