Ward-Kovalev 2 Preview and Predictions
Published: June 16, 2017
LAS VEGAS - Tomorrow night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas the rematch between Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) and Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) will take place. The rematch has been filled with much more tension and animosity then the first encounter, as the stakes are higher for both men. Ward wants to resolve any questions that fans and pundits may have from the first fight with Kovalev. The former Russian champion simply wants to win his titles back from an opponent he feels he bested the first time.
Factors such as who will make the proper adjustments to gain a distinct advantage in the rematch linger. The 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist wants to get off to a better start in the rematch. In the first bout, he was knocked down in the second round and lost a majority of the first six rounds. Kovalev has stated on numerous occasions that he feels he gassed out after the fifth round in the first fight. He has hired a new Russian strength and conditioning coach to address the stamina problems. While most observers had Kovalev winning a close decision in the first fight, the judges almost gave Ward a clean sweep of rounds 7-12 last November. One judge gave Kovalev the 12th round, landing all three with scorecards of 114-113 for Ward.
In the first fight, both men seemed to have a certain level of respect for another, while the rematch has been riddled with an apparent dislike for one another. Ward did not show up for an episode of HBO’s faceoff that has become a staple for the network in promoting fights. Kovalev abruptly left the final press conference after speaking. Then you have the entire drama of ‘he said, she said’ between Ward’s camp and Kovalev’s trainer John David Jackson of who contacted whom about switching over to help train Ward. There are more storylines for the rematch than the original. Both men spoke with ESPN regarding what they feel they need to accomplish in the rematch.
Hector Franco: I am going to keep this as simple as I possibly can. I had Kovalev winning the first fight with Ward and believe he will pull off the victory in the rematch in much more convincing fashion. The Russian’s jab will prove to be the difference. I have Kovalev winning by unanimous decision.
Joseph Correa: I believe Ward will have an easier time this go around. He has the mental edge being that he was awarded the first fight even though it was a controversial decision. After the knockdown, Ward made adjustments that allowed him to get back into the fight and control the pace. Kovalev made no adjustments and seemed out of his element for most of the second half of the fight. For Kovalev to win, he must stick to what he does and not allow Ward to rough him up in the inside. My pick: Ward via unanimous decision.
Daniel Zaldivar: I will just get straight to the point: Kovalev will pull out the win in this second matchup. Don't get me wrong, Ward is a champion and will surely come into this fight with more in his arsenal after already being in the ring once with the “Krusher.” However, I just think that Kovalev has so much built up aggression after the controversial decision, that he might likely get the KO. He has already proved that he can send Ward to the canvas and has also seen his jab become a factor. If Kovalev is honestly nervous for it to go to the scorecards again, then he has to get the stoppage/KO. That is the only way he takes it out of the judges’ hands. If this happens (or Kovalev just ends up getting the win) then a trilogy is inevitable. If Ward wins again, then Kovalev can say goodbye to any future bouts with the bay area native. Kovalev by 8th round KO.
Steven Weinberg: The only thing Kovalev can do to "finish off" Ward this time around is to apply more pressure. If Ward starts to feel the pressure, he will simply clutch and grab just like in the first fight. Kovalev will have to counter that by fighting on the inside, which he is not known for, and which Ward is a master. I doubt that Kovalev will have been able to learn to how to fight as effectively on the inside as Ward can in one training camp. Ward by 12 round decision -after which I will officially retire my "Krusher" t-shirt.
Kelly Owen: I have Andre Ward by split decision in another highly entertaining and hotly disputed fight. Although, if Sergey Kovalev can be careful not to let Ward land too many power sapping body shots or employ the draining stand up wrestling technique that he previously lacked an answer for, he has a solid chance of dominating the fight. Kovalev needs to force Ward to the ropes to be in a better position to land powerful combinations that can earn him an early knockout, or determine close rounds in his favor. Ward is an astute fighter and has the tendency to utilize his jab more effectively than Sergey, and if he takes the fight on the inside, Kovalev will have his work cut out for him. Ward exhibited his ability to adjust in the later rounds of the first fight, and although he was knocked down early, he can handle the pop in Kovalev’s hands.
The Frontproof Media staff has 3 for Ward and 2 for Kovalev.
(Feature Photo: Roc Nation Sports and Main Events)