Boxing Odds Favor Ward over Kovalev for Fight Rematch
One of the most anticipated boxing matches of the year is Saturday from Las Vegas as Andre Ward takes on Sergey Kovalev in a rematch for Ward’s WBO/IBF/WBA light heavyweight titles. Ward is a -150 favorite on MyBookie boxing odds with Kovalev at +130. It will be shown on HBO pay-per- view. Can Kovalev (30-1- 1, 16 KOs) bounce back from the first loss of his career? Back in November, he lost by controversial unanimous decision to Ward. Kovalev scored a flash knockdown of Ward onto all fours in Round 2 with a short punch as both combatants battled on the inside.
Boxing Lines Favor Ward, but is Kovalev a Wise Pick?
All three judges scored the bout 114-113 for Ward, who lost the first few rounds, and then gradually fought his way back into the bout. Kovalev afterward complained that the American judges were biased. The 126 punches Kovalev landed were the most landed on Ward since he faced Sakio Bika in November 2010. Kovalev had knocked out 12 of his previous 14 opponents. Only two of 11 opponents in his 12-round fights had lasted all 12 rounds.
So what does Kovalev need to do this time? It will be all American judges again, so he might want to take it out of their hands and finish by KO: “I will finish [Ward’s] boxing career because like, right now, I’m already in a corner and I don’t have like another way except like get a victory over him … it’s a necessary victory.
“Ward got a gift the first time, the best gift he received in his life,” Kovalev said. “He hit me with little punches, punches like a girl. None of his punches hurt me. They were little punches and the judges counted them. That’s what they saw. The public and anyone watching that fight saw something else.”
His problem is that if he is to avenge that solitary loss on his record he will probably have to stop the clever and elusive Ward (31-0, 15 KOs), a task which has so far proved beyond all-comers. Ward hasn’t lost a fought since he was 15 and has been the boxing betting favorite in his last matches. In the first go-round, he landed the higher percentage of total punches (34.4% to 26.6%), landed a higher percentage of jabs (32.75 to 19.8%) and a higher percentage of power shots (36.1% to 33.6%).
Ward, the consummate technician who has frequently topped the ring’s mythical pound-for- pound greatest rankings, tells Kovalev: “I’m going to keep it short and sweet. You’ve got what you asked for but now you’ve got to see me again. This time, leave the excuses at home.”
Kovalev and his team are certain that he over-trained for each of his last two fights – the Ward bout and a convincing, 12-round unanimous-decision victory over South Africa’s Isaac Chilemba last July 11 in Ekaterinburg, Russia. Kovalev said he found his “energy bag was empty” one month before the Ward fight, and it showed in the second half of the bout. Kovalev made numerous changes during this training camp, throughout which he worked with a new strength and conditioning coach, Alexander Mikhailovich. They’ve focused more on speed than strength over the past two months.
Kovalev trainer John David Jackson said the only major adjustment is to fight “more aggressive” in the second half of the fight while seeing if Ward will fight differently. There is no rematch clause after this fight like the last, so it’s do-or- die for Kovalev’s title chances.
Professional Boxing Record (Last 5 Fights)
Andre Kovalev (30-1-1)
Andre Ward – Loss by UD, 19 Nov 2016 @ T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Isaac Chilemba – Win by UD, 11 Jul 2016 @ DIVS, Yekaterinburg, Russia.
Jean Pascal – Win by RTD, 30 Jan 2016, Bell Centre, Quebec, Canada.
France Nadjib Mohammedi – Win by KO, 25 Jul 2015, Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Jean Pascal – Win by TKO, 14 Mar 2015, Canada Bell Centre, Quebec, Canada.
Andre Ward (31-0)
Russia Sergey Kovalev – Win by UD, Nov 19, 2016, T-Mobile Arena, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
Alexander Brand – Win by UD, Aug 6, 2016, Oracle Arena, Oakland, California, U.S.
Sullivan Barrera – Win by UD, Mar 26, 2016, Oracle Arena, Oakland, California, U.S.
Paul Smith – Win by TKO, Jun 20, 2015, Oracle Arena, Oakland, California, U.S.
Edwin Rodríguez – Win by U, Nov 16, 2013, Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, California, U.S.
Ward vs Kovalev II Boxing Pick: Andre Ward
Ward wore down Kovalev last time, and I see no reason for anything to change. Ward again by unanimous decision.