By Ian S Palmer
Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward Preview November 19th
One of the most anticipated boxing showdowns of this and any other year will be taking place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada this Saturday, November 19th when a pair of undefeated and pound-for-pound contenders meet. Fans will see WBO/IBF and WBA Light Heavyweight Champion Sergey Kovalev of Russia taking on former super middleweight champion Andre Ward of Oakland, California. Kovalev’s last outing took place in July when he beat Isaac Chilemba by 12-round unanimous decision while Ward took the same route in his win over Alexander Brand in August. The bout can be seen on pay-per-view in North America while fans in the UK can pick it up on Sky Sports 1.
The 33-year-old Kovalev has a near perfect mark of 29-0-1 along with 26 Kos to his name and has fought 114 rounds since turning pro in 2009. His draw came against Grover Young in 2011 after the fight was stopped in the second round due to an accidental foul and Young couldn’t continue. Kovalev has a 72.5-inch reach and is 6-feet tall. As his record indicates, Kovalev is a KO artist with an 84 percent knockout ratio and has enough power in his fists to drop opponents with both body and head shots. He’s an exceptional offensive boxer who also has a good defence and a solid chin.
Kovalev likes to establish his snapping jab and usually punches in flurries rather than depending on one big shot. Ward obviously represents Kovalev’s toughest opponent to date even though he’s already beaten the likes of Chilemba, Jean Pascal (twice), Bernard Hopkins, Blake Caparello, Gabriel Campillo, Darnell Boone and Nathan Cleverly. The Russian is a good boxer/puncher, but can also get frustrated in the ring by an elite boxer, which is what Ward is. Kovalev likely won’t hesitate to slug it out with Ward since the challenger isn’t known for his power, but he needs to make sure he doesn’t underestimate that power.
The 32-year-old Ward is also undefeated and a contender for best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet. He has a perfect record of 30-0 with 15 Kos and this will be just his third outing as a full-fledged light heavyweight. Ward is 6-feet tall and has a reach of 71 inches, which means he’s the same height as Kovalev with a slightly shorter reach. He’s fought 218 rounds since turning pro in 2004 and isn’t known as a big power puncher with his knockout ratio currently being 50 per cent. The American also has a wealth of amateur experience as he was a gold-medal winner at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Ward’s an excellent technical boxer, but to be honest, most of his contests can get quite boring because he’s usually a bit too good for his opponent and lacks one-punch power. This isn’t to underestimate or take anything away from Ward though as he has all of the skills required to be a Grade A world champion. He’s beaten some top-notch opponents over the years such as Carl Froch, Chad Dawson, Arthur Abraham, Mikkel Kessler, Edison Miranda and Sakio Bika. He has solid, but not overwhelming power and is basically the complete package when it comes to being an excellent overall boxer.
It’s unlikely that Kovalev is going to be able to outbox Ward, so he probably shouldn’t really waste any rounds trying to do so. Kovalev doesn’t want to get into an all-out slugfest right from the get-go either. What he does want to do though is press the action and force Ward into boxing all three minutes of every round. Kovalev does need to land something solid on Ward early and make him weary of his power, but also needs to make sure he doesn’t leave himself wide open for Ward’s effective counterpunches. Ward will utilize his mobility and boxing skills to try and rack up points and will only go for a stoppage if he obviously hurts Kovalev. Still, I’ve seen Kovalev get frustrated in the ring and feel the same thing will happen on Saturday with Ward taking a decision.