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Great Britain

Anthony Yarde attempts to complete transformation from heartbroken debt collector to world champion by dethroning WBO king Sergey Kovalev

ANTHONY YARDE is determined to dethrone Sergey Kovalev  in Russia tomorrow — and complete his journey from heartbroken debt collector to world champion.

At just 18, the Hackney brawler chased up people who had fallen behind on their rent.

But Yarde was in turmoil as he was regularly forced to take child-support money from parents who had breached their payment plans.

After being left with no choice but to take cash out of a mother’s bank account, he packed in his career and focused on becoming a boxer — despite not having had a single bout at the time.

Yarde, 28, said: “I hated that job. There was one day I had a mother on the phone and all her money had been taken.

“She had a plan in place — but as she breached and got another loan they had taken all her cash.

“Whatever child-support money went into her bank, I think it was £600, they took all of it.  No remorse, no warning.

Watch Anthony Yarde get top score on punch arcade machine only for his trainer to clock it afterwards

“She called up and I was told to tell her she breached when she took out another loan.

“It meant the company I worked for was eligible to take all her funds — and that just broke my heart.

“She was crying on the phone to me, explaining she had a payment plan in place and taking her kids  to school — but  they hadn’t eaten properly for three days.

“You could see from the notes she had tried to work with the company and it broke my heart. It happened again on similar occasions and I couldn’t take it any more.”

Inspired by ring legends Floyd Mayweather, Mike Tyson and Roy Jones, Yarde cleared out his desk.

He said: “I told my boss, ‘Thank you — but I’m not going to be here tomorrow. I’m going to pursue my career as a boxer’. I remember the woman actually laughed at me.

“She giggled and said, ‘Boxing? Well, good luck’.

“I’ve had a mentality of just work. I’ve watched a lot of Floyd Mayweather, Mike Tyson, Roy Jones videos.”

Yarde would then take a part-time job at Capital One finance but lived for the hours spent in the TKO Boxing Gym in Barking.

Going on to have 12 amateur bouts, picking up the gloves at 19, the light-heavyweight turned professional and stuck to his word after 11 KO wins and one loss in the unpaid ranks.

Now 18-0 as a pro Yarde finds himself WBO mandatory for Kovalev’s title - and travelled to the champion’s backyard in Chelyabinsk.

Yet to be tested at the highest level the Brit has never faced an opponent with the experience of the ex-unified champion.

Many have doubted the Brit in his short four-year career - and Yarde insists the critics will still be there even if he pulls off the away win against the 36-year-old Kovalev.

He said: “Kovalev is world champion and I’m mandatory, I’ve not chased this fight, it’s just fallen into place.

“My aggression, mentality all just focuses that bit more - it’s like when you focus a camera it’s all blurry but then it becomes focused.

“When you move a camera it becomes unfocused - when you worry about other things you become unfocused - when you have one focus boom, you take your picture.

“When I go out there and beat Kovalev people will give me more credit but there will still be people that say ‘He’s over the hill, he’s finished now, fight this guy’.

“The haters will always say that as they’re waiting for something bad to happen, they don’t want to see you prevail, they’ll seclude what they saw and demand something release.

“It’s all going to add on my CV - it’s like when Tyson Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko in Germany - although Russia is a lot different, it’s the worst place."

Yarde seeks his coronation night three years after Brit superstar Anthony Joshua became world champion after just 16 pro fights.

But Saturday night’s challenger insists Kovalev is “no Charles Martin” - as he bids to push on and emulate the former heavyweight king.

Yarde said: “Talking about Joshua vs Charles Martin, that was perfect timing, but again since that he’s fought class fighters so he’s got the same kind of mindset that I have.

“But Kovalev is no Charles Martin, but I’ve said it from the beginning Tunde said it, everything is timing.”

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