Boxing is a strange old sport, and one in which fighters who are willing to court controversy outside of the ring tend to get more interest and attention than those who are willing to let their fists, rather than their mouths, do the talking.
Sadly, quality operators who prefer to hide their light under a bushel rarely get their moment in the sun, and so it is a refreshing change to see two pugilists who can genuinely lay claim to the title of best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet getting their time to shine in Vegas in the early hours of Sunday morning.
You’ll have to stay up until around 2am to watch the action, but it will surely be worth it to see Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev duke it out for the honour of being the finest light heavyweight in the business.
Ward Steps Up for Glory
What do you do when you have demolished all before you in the super middleweight division? Simple: step up to light heavy and get it on with a man known as the ‘Krusher’.
The likes of Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, Chad Dawson and Arthur Abraham all tasted defeat to Ward at the weight, and such a healthy CV has led the Californian to seek out equally as alluring pay days at the higher level.
Ward is a technician and a tactician, often choosing to box on the back foot and counter strike in the same vein as Floyd Mayweather. It’s a tactic that may just prove fruitful against Kovalev; a big light heavyweight with a sledgehammer of a right hand.
There are a number of considerable but’s, however. For contractual reasons, Ward was largely inactive in 2015 and since his return at a greater weight has largely failed to inspire. He has never fought in Vegas – rarely outside his home state of Florida in fact – and given how Kovalev has largely been avoided so far the Russian will be desperate to make this golden opportunity count.
Rocket from Russia
Kovalev has been branded a brawler, a slugger and a fighter, and all of those terms – while accurate to a certain extent – do a huge disservice to a man who outpointed one of the greatest of all time, Bernard Hopkins, and who also won on the judges’ cards against Isaac Chilemba, another fighter ranked in the top ten in the world last time out.
But yes, that lacerating power cannot be overlooked. Kovalev twice stopped Jean Pascal, a man known for his punch resistance, and realistically it is that knockout ferocity that could do the damage against Ward; he is unlikely to have faced a guy who punches as hard as this.
Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev: The Verdict
Over 12 rounds of championship boxing, we have to figure that Sergey Kovalev’s concussive power will eventually slow down the master tactician Ward, and as soon as the American’s pace slows it is likely that Kovalev will take over the fight.
Both fighters can be backed at odds-against – again, very rare for that to be the case in a fight of this magnitude, but it is Kovalev, available at 11/10 with the likes of bet365, Betfair and Betfred, who holds the most appeal.
A late stoppage is a possible method of success, and at 4/1 we’re more than happy to take Kovalev to win in rounds 7-12.