Kovalev vs. Ward: P4P or FOTY?

By Robert Ecksel on November 18, 2016
Kovalev vs. Ward: P4P or FOTY?
A sweet scientist of the old school, Ward was birthed in a boxing laboratory in Oakland.

Everybody loves Kovalev. He drops guys to the canvas with the nonchalance of eggs falling to a sidewalk…

Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a fight televised live on HBO PPV, Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-1, 26 KOs), the lights out king of the ring from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, by way of Kopeysk, Russia, defends his WBA Super World, IBF World, and WBO World light heavyweight titles against former WBA Super World/WBC World super middleweight champion Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KOs), the master boxer from Oakland, California.

Kovalev is a knockout artist par excellence. With heavy hands, a granite chin and steely resolve, he fought his way out of obscurity to global renown. Kovalev fights because fighting is what he does best. But he also fights for family and country.

“It’s my home because all my friends there my family,” Kovalev told Larry King on Russia’s RT television. “I am honored that I will bring the Russian flag into the ring because in Russia, the Russian streets gave me all what I have.”

When asked about Ward Kovalev said, “Boxing specialists look at him something much better, he do something better than me, I don’t know like, I don’t care about this at all who is the underdog and who is the favorite.

“He’s not a fighter he’s a boxer very smart boxer. And what he brings into the ring, I wanna see that. He’s a guest in my division.”

Ward has not lost a fight in 20 years. A sweet scientist of the old school, he was birthed in a boxing laboratory run by coach deluxe Virgil Hunter. His star turn in the Super Six Tournament, where he dismantled opponents round by round on the way to cleaning out a stacked super middleweight division, established him as one of the finest boxer-punchers of his generation.

Sophisticated, subtle, perhaps the best boxer alive, he’ll do anything to win and look good doing it. But Ward is not there to knock you out. He is there to outsmart you. He is there to outbox you. He is there to beat you up.

Everybody loves Kovalev. He drops guys to the canvas with the nonchalance of eggs falling to a sidewalk. But he is not just a one-dimensional machine bent on destruction. His game is nuanced. He is not only strong. Kovalev is also smart.

Ward spoke about Kovalev during a recent teleconference call.

“We don’t approach the fight being enamored with anything a guy does well,” Ward said. “We acknowledge it and we respect it and we understand what we’re up against, but I been in the ring with big punchers, good boxers, you name it. At the end of the day, to be a champion you have to be able to beat whatever’s in front of you and Kovalev is not just a big puncher. He’s a boxer. He’s a thinker. He understands range, positioning and different things like that. There’s a lot more to him than just being a big puncher. But at the end of the day many people make the same mistake with me. They call me a great boxer or a great neutralizer, but there’s so much more going on with me than that. If I was just about defense and neutralizing then a lot of these big punchers would just try to walk through me and there’s a reason they’re not. But that’s what fight night is all about, it’s not about talking about it to try to prove your case, it’s about the opportunity to be great.”

Ward may be slowing down.

“As you get older, it’s about becoming more efficient,” he said. “I’ve heard some people say that I’m not the same fighter that I was when I was in my 20s and I hope I’m not. I should be getting better and more efficient, that’s what it’s about. It’s not about making unnecessary moves. It’s about making the necessary moves when you need to make them. You got to find ways to make adjustments to get the job done in these big moments. That’s what’s going to separate the guy who gets his hand raised from the guy who doesn’t.”

Ward has never fought in Las Vegas. This is his first pay-per-view. He wants to give the fans their money’s worth, but some contentiousness exists.

“I know they want blood,” said Ward. “They want me knocked down and staggered. I’ve studied this sport for many years and if you look at old footage of Roy Jones, Bernard Hopkins and old interviews and footage of Floyd Mayweather, it’s the same kind of things that were said about them and those three guys are legends and hall of famers. You can’t be worried about that because you understand that some people get it and some people won’t, but you have to do what you have to do.”

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev sits down with Larry King on RT (PROMO)

Does Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev get nervous? | Larry King Now | Ora.TV

If You Only Knew: Sergey Kovalev | Larry King Now | Ora.TV

Sergey Kovalev doesn't care that Andre Ward is favored to win | Larry King Now | Ora.TV

Will Sergey Kovalev fight Adonis Stevenson? | Larry King Now | Ora.TV

Sergey Kovalev wants to be called "world's best boxer" | Larry King Now | Ora.TV

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  1. Darrell 09:36pm, 11/19/2016

    I see Kovalev got robbed…....rubbish decision. Judges fell for smoke & mirrors Ward.

  2. The Thresher 02:01pm, 11/19/2016

    Ward hasn’t lost since he was 12 years old. He possesses superb technical skills and the ability to tie up and frustrate his opponents and then hammer them with elbows and even butts while in the clinch. He is border-line dirty—some might call it roughhousing—and that adds another dimension to his already lethal arsenal. Finally, his methodical victories in the Super Six gave him all the credentials he needs to be a future Hall of Famer.

    Kovalev is as powerful as his nickname “Krusher” suggests. He is a unified light heavyweight world champion, having held the WBA and IBF titles since 2014, and the WBO title since 2013. His 84% KO percentage is self-explanatory and he can end a fight at any time, including the last minute of the last round. He has defended his title nine times, reflecting his divisional dominance, and his ability to close once he has his opponent stunned brings to mind the savage closing ability of Sugar Ray Leonard.

    This will be Ward’s fourth fight since an 18-month hiatus. “My time off,” says Ward, didn’t take a toll on me mentally or physically. I don’t poison my body, I don’t drink, smoke or party, so I never worked against myself. Even in my time off, I remained truly dedicated to the sport. I still spent hours upon hours in the gym, even when I didn’t know when I would fight again. That benefited me because when it was time to get back in the ring, there was no rust. I picked up right where I left off?.I’ve been boxing for 20-plus years. That’s a grind. Breaks like that can really benefit a veteran fighter like me because it afforded me the chance to recharge both mentally and physically.”

    I lean toward Ward is a non-action packed fight.

  3. Old Yank 01:51pm, 11/19/2016

    I’m prepared for a bore-fest not much different than Mayweather v Pacauiao.

  4. Old Yank 01:46pm, 11/19/2016

    A stat that will prove prescient: No pro has a better rounds-won ratio that Ward.

    He does not fight a bout. He fights one 3 minute fight at a time—and wins one 3 minute fight at a time.

    Second, he is second only to Mayweather for adjusting to what ever needs adjusting to. He can phone-booth you to death like he did against Alan Green. He can dirty you up like he did against Kessler and he can wear you out, drag you into the deep end and drown you like he did to Dawson.

    This is Ward’s bout to lose and if he wins one 3 minute fight at a time, come the 9th, 10th or so, Kovalev might find frustration leading to a mistake. And again, like Mayweather, no one capatalizes on mistakes better than Mayweather and Ward.

    Ward by UD.

  5. The Thresher 07:29am, 11/19/2016

    Akin has the beat

  6. Akin 08:32pm, 11/18/2016

    As one of the writers on here would occasionally say - @JLI you have the beat. Only thing is that I doubt very much Kovalev would be stopped.

  7. JLI 07:44pm, 11/18/2016

    I have to agree with @Koolz. Kovalev proved himself to be much more wily and conditioned than most realized vs. BHop. That said, Andre Ward is no Hopkins. He’s younger, faster, smarter, and more powerful. This fight is the most important in boxing and kudos to these gentlemen for making it happen. Adonis Stevenson may become obsolete. Tomorrow’s victor will be the top dog of the sport. I predict a shocking stoppage by Ward between 5 and 8.

  8. Koolz 12:17pm, 11/18/2016

    Kovalev is an underestimated fighter that everyone thinks is just the Krusher, but he showed that he is more then a Krusher against Bhop.

    Now is this going to be an exciting fight?  This is going to be a technical fight like a game of chess…there isn’t going to be some amazing barn burner of each fighter just throwing punches in bunches to knock the other guy out.
    It’s going all be planned and executed fight.  Kovalev and Ward will both being trying to trick the other.
    I am saying Kovalev is KOing Ward based on what I have seen from each fighters last three fights.
    I also feel that Kovalev isn’t going to let someone come up to his weight class and take over, no way, no how. 
    Well I do hope this fight is a giant surprise from everyone!  We should just be internally grateful that we are being able to witness it.
    Trump Your Cat!

  9. AkT 08:32am, 11/18/2016

    Kovalev by KO? Strong words my sir, strong words.

    We’ll know in 48 hours. Kovalev is strong, don’t get me wrong. But he’ll need to get the shots in consistently and break Ward down (he won’t be able to - Ward is like an eel, and stronger than people give hime credit for. Carl Froch is a beast. He made him look easy) or he’ll need to land that perfect shot (possible but unlikely). Only way ward is losing will be in a Paul Williams v Sergio Martinez style - where a perfect shot slipped in and Paul had no clue.

    The likelihood of winning is on Ward’s side. And contrary to a lot of people’s opinions, I believe it’ll actually be an exciting fight.

  10. Pete The Sneak 05:36am, 11/18/2016

    nicolas, I agree with you about Ward having to frustrate Kovalev. Usually, big punchers like him want you to engage, but if you box and stay away, they do tend to get frustrated. Ward does have that ability. However, with all that being said, the ultimate boxing ‘style buster’ Bernard Hopkins, who has frustrated pretty much everyone he’s fought could not deter Kovalev away from what he wanted to do.  Ward will have to engage with Krusher, and before all is said and done, I see Kovalev landing a big right hand in and around the 10th Round that will finish this fight. Either way, this should be a doozy!...Peace.

  11. nicolas 04:53am, 11/18/2016

    If Ward is not the same fighter of those many years back, he will lose. But if he is, then he will win. For both boxers, this is though the biggest challenges of their career. Ward has to frustrate Kovalev, if he does that he could win. Kovalev has to punish Ward, mark him up. Did not Sullivan Barrera do some damage to Ward? This match is very intriguing.

  12. Koolz 04:53am, 11/18/2016

    Kovalev by KO yep I am saying it.  I watched Ward’s last three fights and they were a joke.  So is Ward going to use his right hand?  Maybe to upright himself when hit’s the Canvas.

    Then after the fight I can watch Hunter Cry into his arm and spas out.  Since he is paid to say some pretty crazy shit! 
    After all Ward is getting 5 million from a group of people that are involved in “Spirit Cooking” and wears a shirt that says “Do What thou Will”

    Which happens to be the saying from a guy that used Black Magic in OTO and Thelma Society, to different groups he created.
    Oh yes this is Boxing Folks and it is more then Just Boxing.


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