The 12-round mega-fight will be contested for Kovalev’s WBO, IBF and WBA Light Heavyweight title at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The bout, which is presented by Main Events, Roc Nation Sports, Krusher Promotions and Andre Ward Promotions, will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9:00 pm, EST/6:00 pm, PST.
Read on for Round By Round Boxing‘s staff predictions for Kovalev vs. Ward and leave us a comment letting us know who you think will win.
Round By Round Boxing Staff Predictions - 2017
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All photos by David Spagnolo/Main Events
Liam Brady, Graphic Designer/Staff Writer
What a fantastic fight. A win-win for both, in my opinion. Sergey Kovalev gets his defining fight in Andre Ward, an opponent that outweighs the elusive Adonis Stevenson by a mile. Furthermore, it is also very defining for Ward. Having cleaned out the Super middleweight division, a chance to topple ‘the man’ at Light heavyweight will add more luster to an already impressive amateur and pro career.
Moving onto the narrative of the fight, I am sold on Ward in this matchup. I believe he has too many tricks in the bag, so to speak, and therefore will make it a hard night’s work for Kovalev. Ward’s speed, judgement of distance, ability to get out of range, and upper body movement, prevents him from being a stationary target. Thus, Kovalev will be denied the chance to land flush and exert his full punching power, an attribute that is a game changer.
The judgement of distance will be facilitated by the jab of Ward, which is very authoritative. He keeps his left hand moving in front of the opponent, impairing their vision. Then, he will fire the jab low, and occasionally high, in order to keep the opponent guessing. Establishing this early on will allow Ward to keep Kovalev at range, so if Kovalev does tag Ward, which is likely to happen at some point, he is over-stretching, and therefore not able to plant his feet perfectly and maximize the punching power.
Kovalev, in his own right, is a very methodical boxer, who can systematically break down opponents. I believe he needs to stop Ward’s fluidity and movement by hitting the body, which has been effective in the past against opponents like Blake Caparello. However, his level of refinement is not like Ward’s, who I see evading Kovalev’s best shots, due to the above-mentioned attributes. Moreover, he is far more suited for 12 rounds than Kovalev, having gone the distance nine times, as opposed to the two times Kovalev has.
I foresee Ward staying out of range, and outboxing Kovalev, comfortably throughout the fight. If the fight does go close quarters, Ward’s ability to smother his opponent’s work on the inside will come into play, and I feel his physicality at Light heavyweight has been proven against solid guys like Sullivan Barrera. To conclude, I am picking Ward by unanimous decision. I feel he will not give Kovalev the time and space to land his hurtful shots, and instead he will make his opponent chase shadows.
Brandon Glass, Staff Writer
Can we get a round of applause for boxing allowing this fight to happen? Ultimately I don’t feel the need to go to in-depth on the back stories of these two, as they are both pretty notable. So far, Andre Ward’s fights at 175 haven’t been as riveting as they should. Even though Ward has had issues with “legal entanglements” and injuries, both playing a major part in his inactivity in the recent past, he’s gonna get up for this fight. I believe he will bring his “A” game.
Sergey Kovalev has been chugging right along, though some of his recent fights have shown a frustrated, less impressive than usual champion. He still has cannons attached to his shoulders and that alone can change any fight, no matter the circumstances. I believe his cavalier attitude and cruel “inside the ring” persona, will be peak based on the banter surrounding the press conferences leading up.
I mulled over this for a while. However the kind of boxing fan I am, I will always pick skills over power. No matter how powerful Kovalev is; if we remove that factor, is there any chance he beats Ward? I think most would say no.
I will always believe the guy who can’t rely on power, will be more resourceful, resilient, and bring more to the table out of necessity. I have to pick Ward. Doesn’t mean I don’t think Kovalev isn’t capable, or skilled. I just think Ward has to use more tools, based on his limited power. And he’s just as nasty inside the ring.
Mike Burnell, Staff Writer
On November 19 the anxiously anticipated Light heavyweight extravaganza will take place as Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 Kos) squares off with Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (30-0, 15 Kos) for recognition as both the world and pound-for-pound champion.
The match is very even with regard to height and reach, but it is the polar opposite stylistic dynamics that make this arguably the most compelling bout in boxing. Kovalev plays the role of the menacing, aggressive puncher in stark comparison to the slick footwork, defense and brilliant counter punching of Ward. It has the same ingredients that have historically produced both classics and duds alike.
There are no secrets as it relates to strategy when the two clash this Saturday. The Russian strongman will pressure Ward and try to cut the ring off and force Ward to engage–no easy feat. Ward will attempt to use Kovalev’s pressure against him by slipping his punches and countering sharply while controlling the distance and tempo with his feet.
The first few rounds will belong to S.O.G. as he boxes intelligently and makes Kovalev miss with his harder shots. Ward will eat a few jabs and glancing blows while landing stinging counters before sliding out of harm’s way.
Somewhere around the middle of the fight, Kovalev will find the beat and land some damaging punches, hurting Ward who escapes. Expect Krusher to land more effectively from that point forward and slowly begin to successfully cut off the ring on Ward.
Andre will dig deep and win a couple more rounds but a late knockdown closes the gap and makes the fight essentially even. After 12 rounds Andre Ward will have his hand raised in an unpopular decision that will demand a rematch.
Jack O’Connell, Staff Writer
Give Andre Ward credit. Minus a few tune up fights, he has fought nothing but top opposition for the last six years. A schedule this vigorous should wear out most fighters, but Ward has been so untouchable, that his slowdown is almost nonexistent. Now he’s jumping up in weight to take on one of the most feared destroyers in the game, Sergey Kovalev.
Kovalev brings to the table a plethora of tools. A thick jab, ring generalship, a granite chin. Oh yeah. He also has cinderblocks for fists.
Thinking about this prediction, the first thought to pop in my mind was Kovalev’s deconstruction of Bernard Hopkins. Ward fights quite a bit like Hopkins.
They both rely on timing, positioning, and dirty clinches. Kovalev has able to force Hopkins into survival mode all night by backing him up with his jab. When he got Hopkins on the ropes, Kovalev pounded B-Hop’s body, which in turn set up right crosses.
It was a masterful performance from Kovalev, one that I think reflects on what he’ll do to Ward.
Another big factor in this fight is that fact that Ward cannot hurt Kovalev. Ward has never been a power puncher, and Kovalev doesn’t get hurt, period.
I see a tactical, tense, chess match at first, before Kovalev turns up the heat and begins backing up Ward and landing shots. Ward is too smart to get knocked out, but I expect him to get buzzed quite a bit.
Amber Williams, Photographer
Merissa Dyer, Staff Writer
I could not have bet on Donald Trump winning, but I can surely bet on Andre Ward.
He’s proved on multiple occasions to have the intelligence and physical prowess to out-class his opponents. Not to mention, his work ethic in the gym is insane.
Ward is not given the credit he deserves for being one boxing’s toughest fighters, but his toughness is exactly what he needs in this fight. We can’t, however, dismiss Sergey Kovalev.
Don’t get me wrong–this is not going to be an easy fight for Ward, especially having moved up in weight class. Kovalev has already proved he can scare the living daylights out of a textbook boxer.
However, I think Ward has the intellect, coaching and physical abilities on his side to come through with a victory. I have Ward taking this fight the full distance and winning by majority decision.
Alan Garcia, Staff Writer
Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward, it’s been a while since we’ve had a fantastic matchup like this one. Two undefeated champions with everything to lose and everything to gain will battle it out on Saturday night for the glory of being the No. 1 pound-for-pound champion of the Light heavyweight division.
A victory for either of the two men will solidify their status as a great champion. If Kovalev wins, all doubt against his boxing craft will be silenced and therefore he will receive the long awaited, true recognition as the legitimate Light heavyweight champion of the world. If Ward wins, he will quiet boxing’s “old timers” opinions on his boxing craft, and will gain the respect of many who don’t think he has what it takes to win against Kovalev.
Whatever the outcome of the fight, my hat goes off to both men. I tip my hat to Sergey Kovalev because he has the will and attitude of what a common boxer should have nowadays. A man who wants to rise above himself and conquer every man who steps up to the challenge because he’s already conquered himself (he’s what Nietzsche refers to as the “ubermensch”), and that “will” is the reason for Kovalev’s success.
Ward has gained my respect since the day I was informed he signed the fight against Kovalev. Andre Ward’s boxing never really caught my attention, and puzzles me when his praises seem so far fetched. I don’t take anything away from Ward, he’s a great technician and has good textbook boxing knowledge, but against who?
I haven’t seen Ward face a real challenge that I consider meaningful. Jermaine Taylor, Carl Froch and Chad Dawson are the only notable names I consider on his resume. But yet, Taylor was already on his way out, and it wasn’t a prime Taylor. Froch’s boxing style is upright and straight forward, made for an unorthodox defensive fighter like Ward. And Chad Dawson went down in weight for the fight.
Most critics can say the same about Kovalev not facing top opposition either, but the difference is that there are no good opposition for a comparative argument against Kovalev’s resume, and the only one that was, he already beat—Bernard Hopkins. Kovalev is trying to fight the best out there and he’s been calling out the best. If the men Kovalev has fought are “tune ups” or “stay busy” fights (which are winnable fights), why hasn’t Ward fought those men in order to make a good comparative argument? Because Kovalev is constantly proving himself and to his fans why he’s the best, he finally gets to fight a top name to prove just that.
I hope that this fight lives up to the hype and by the way I see it, it will. This fight is the clash of styles that makes boxing so appealing. The heavy handed power puncher chasing after the fast agile counter puncher. This is the style of fight Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan was marketed as, the only difference is that this is a legit fight because both men will be fighting in their corresponding weight class.
All in all, my respect goes out to both of these men for agreeing to fight each other. This fight isn’t too hard for me to decipher. I have Kovalev winning by knockout in the ninth or 10th round. Ward will do his best to fight a perfect fight, measuring distance, countering and scoring pot shot points. The thing is that once Kovalev catches him with a power punch, Ward wont take it too well and therefore will succumb to Kovalev’s pressure. Ward hasn’t ever been hit by a true power puncher like Kovalev and it’s going to be very interesting to see how he’ll react to it.
Andrew Kang, Staff Writer
This is the biggest fight that could be made right now, outside of Gennady Golovkin vs. Canelo Alvarez.
Pitting two of the top five pound-for-pound boxers in the world, the boxer-puncher in Russia’s Sergey Kovalev versus the defensive wizard in the American, Andre Ward. On paper, this is an even money fight as reflected in the betting odds which has it as a virtual “pick’em.”
I believe the champion Kovalev’s underrated nimble footwork and hand speed will surprise Ward in the early rounds before eventually finding his rhythm and begin the repeatedly catching Kovalev with lead left hook-right cross combinations.
The fight will be as close as Andre wants to make it. If he resorts to sticking and moving, he wins a scientific match and utilizes his edge in hand speed, defense and mobility.
If he gets too confident after building an early lead, Ward may engage Kovalev more and may even get caught by the more powerful champion’s counter rights. I like Ward by unanimous decision.
Julio Sanchez, Photographer
Sarah Gruber, Staff Writer
Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev vs. Andre “S.O.G” Ward is really happening and it should be amazing to watch. Not only are two of the best fighters in the world going toe-to-toe, but their styles could not differ more from one another.
Kovalev is a power puncher, with strong boxing skills which allow him to set up his power shot’s masterfully. Kovalev has that intangible seek and destroy mindset; something boxing aficionado’s might describe as having “that dog in him.”
Kovalev is coming to take his opponent out every time he steps in the ring. I believe Kovalev will be looking to do the same thing to Ward on Saturday night, he should be looking to acutely step up his powerful power shots and attempt to knock Ward out. This task however will not be easy.
Ward is a pure boxing technician, he is the poster child for the sweet science concept of hit and not get hit. Ward’s style is not exciting to the knockout, fight in a phone booth, barn burner type boxing fan since he is a highly defensive-minded fighter.
The defensive technicians are often overlooked in today’s boxing world. But for those, like myself, that love the sweet science behind boxing, Ward is poetry in motion.
Ward possess great boxing intellect, he knows the game very well, and can often disturb an opponent’s game plan by frustrating them with his speed, timing and accurately.
Nonetheless, with his powerful right hand, Kovalev only need’s one powerful punch to land to end the fight any point. This is a true 50/50 fight.
I give the slight edge to Andre Ward because I think his ring IQ, speed, accuracy and timing will ensure the lead over Kovalev as the fight wears on.
Alex Burgos, Editor-in-Chief
I’ve been contemplating this matchup for a very long time. About a year ago I thought there was no way Sergey Kovalev could lose to Andre Ward, but as time has passed, Ward has once again made me a believer in his style and ultimately in the fact that skills pay the bills.
That isn’t to say that Kovalev is some oaf with no boxing ability–we learned that he’s got some tricks up his sleeve against Bernard Hopkins–but Ward has continusouly proved throughout his career that he can make the necessary adjustments against any style of fighter and is cut from a different cloth.
I think each man will have moments, but for the majority of the bout I see Ward frustrating Kovalev and making him overexert himself (especially late in the bout) as he looks to land “Krushing” blows.
Ward will have to stand up to Kovalev in spots, but as long as he can weather the early storm and avoid eating flush power shots, I feel he’s got the ability to defeat Kovalev and will walk away as boxing’s new pound-for-pound king.
I’ve flip flopped back and forth throughout the last few months, but I think I am finally ready to go with Andre Ward over Sergey Kovalev by decision.
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