Many expected Andre Ward to fail before the Californian went up against Russian Sergey Kovalev in order to rest the WBA, IBF and WBO light-heavyweight titles but he managed to pull it out of the bag in a fight that many saw as tight. However, he is determined to settle things for good on June 17th in Las Vegas when the two return for another round at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Ward didn’t have the best start when he was repeatedly tagged by the jab and found himself hit a lot more than he has ever been hit in his whole career. Kovalev quickly found his range and put his opponent down in the second by a massive right to the head. But it was after this point that the real story began to unfold! It suddenly became clear to Ward that he had to make more effort to keep out of range while also landing his own hurtful punches. And that is exactly what occurred, for the most part, in the next eight rounds.
Kovalev still had success with the jab while walking forward trying to pin Ward down but the athleticism of the ‘Son Of God’ caused major issues and he found himself shipping a mixture of head and body shots that eventually swayed the judges minds in favour of the smaller man.
Kovalev is bitter about the infliction of his first defeat. He has called Ward a “fake champion” and has been very truculent recently. He is convinced that the judges got it wrong last time out and that Ward got a gift. A gift that he is determined to take back! He has also expressed his dislike for him and has said he wants to literally destroy him.
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It comes across that Kovalev is a little too emotional than he should be and you have to wonder if that will play a significant part next weekend. The UK fans saw what happened when an emotional Carl Froch had all kinds of trouble in his first fight with George Groves.
On the more extreme of the spectrum everybody remembers when Mike Tyson bit a chunk out of Evander Holyfield’s ear because he knew he could not find a way to win. Of course, nobody expects Kovalev to resort to that sort of behaviour, but if he is to have any serious chance of reversing things then perhaps being as little emotional as possible is probably best. In the past there have been too many boxers that have made the mistake of bringing personal feelings into the ring and come out worst because of that.
While Sergey Kovalev has been arguing against his loss, Andre Ward has been busy putting the record straight about his boxing style which has come under scrutiny in the past. Many have labelled him as a boring and frustrating fighter. But Ward has stated that it is only fair that all styles of boxing should be appreciated. He is well aware of the criticism he has received by both the media and the fans but he doesn’t let that bother him.
He has also expressed “disdain” for Kovalev but does realise that he needs to distance himself from all that ahead of doing battle. He has hinted at that maybe Kovalev is trying to get inside his head but he has insisted that will not happen. He is going to do what he has to do and that is get down to business in a professional manner.
The first fight told us that Andre Ward can adapt to his opponent’s style and strengths. Previous bouts showed us of this as well, but Ward showed that his ring IQ also works against guys naturally bigger than him. Kovalev could not adapt to plan B of the American, so what else can he possibly do in the return? It was clear to see that Andre Ward is the much more smarter fighter. If you throw in the intense emotions of Sergey Kovalev into the mix then it does not bode well for the former champion.
Expect Andre Ward to pull out another points win but by a much wider margin against a more emotional Sergey Kovalev, who may leave his boxing skills at the door and try to rough his way through making for a fight that could potentially be more action filled than the first!