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This Saturday live on HBO pay-per-view from Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas, the long-awaited rematch between Light Heavyweight champ Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) and Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (31-1-1, 26 KOs) for the WBA, WBO and IBF Championship belts will be all systems go!
Their first fight has been debated as one of the most controversial fights in recent years as the drama started for this rematch as soon as the scores were read out for a Ward unanimous 114-113 victory over Kovalev. Since then Kovalev has changed his excuses for the lost beginning with his original statement that American judges were to blame, and now lately he over-trained.
Despite the rematch clause that both promotional sides had expected issues in term agreements, that should’ve left little room for debate. Ward has been the true champion. Professionalism as his mental strength has been on full display from social media to the latest actual press conferences. At the final press conference Thursday, Kovalev’s lack of composure was evident as he unprofessionally disrespected Ward and all parties involved before the traditional face-off.
Beginning with the champion Ward, the light heavyweight has had a perfect career spanning from his Gold Medal in 2004 to his latest accomplishment of dethroning a favorite and knock out (KO) artist in Sergey Kovalev. Ward has the boxing IQ that only comes around a few times within a generation. After suffering a knockdown in the 2nd round giving up the 10-8 round early, Ward was able to stick to his game plan and pick apart the aggressive Kovalev. As the fight wore, Kovalev faded and Ward took advantage winning the majority if not all the late rounds. Look for Ward to work off the jab and stay away from the powerful right hand of Kovalev. Ward being able to control the ring with his defense could lead to more frustration for Kovalev if he cannot land accurately and keep his composure
Kovalev comes into this fight in uncharted waters within his successful career. As a first-time underdog, Kovalev will be forced to go back to the basics of his fighting style that made him the champion he was, and most importantly wants to be again. Look for an aggressive Kovalev as he wants to leave no decision in the balance of the judges and complete the knockout victory over Ward. If it is true from the first fight, Kovalev’s conditioning should improve as he admittedly over-trained and wasn’t his usual self in the second part of the first match. Depending on if Kovalev is able to land accurately and effectively throughout the fight, look out for that dangerous over-hand right that has put a long list of fighters to the canvas in KO style. Just not anyone with the ability and experience of Andre Ward.
Fight Prediction: This fight seems to have the makings of a classic rematch in that it will look much like the first fight ended. Ward has had time to make adjustments in camp and game plan for a powerful puncher in Kovalev that he has already handled. On the Kovalev side, a few changes and a near departure of trainer John David Jackson has created some scrutiny within their camp that has most definitely taken away from the task at hand. Look for Ward to have a calculated and patient game plan as he takes this rematch fight in a close but clear cut 116-112 victory over Kovalev.