Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-1, 26 KOs), the knockout artist from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, by way of Kopeysk, Russia, defends his WBA Super World/IBF World/WBO World light heavyweight titles Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a fight televised live on HBO PPV, against former WBA Super World/WBC World super middleweight champion Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KOs), the master boxer from Oakland, California.
Kovalev fought his way out of obscurity to global renown. He fights because fighting is what he does best. But he also fights for family and country.
“It’s my home because all my friends there my family,” Kovalev told Larry King on Russian RT television. “I am honored that I will bring the Russian flag into the ring because in Russia, the Russian streets gave me all what I have.”
When asked about Ward Kovalev said, “Boxing specialists look at him something much better, he do something better than me, I don’t know like, I don’t care about this at all who is the underdog and who is the favorite.
“He’s not a fighter he’s a boxer very smart boxer. And what he brings into the ring, I wanna see that. He’s a guest in my division.”
Ward has not lost a fight in 20 years. A sweet scientist of the old school, he was birthed in a boxing laboratory run by coach deluxe Virgil Hunter. His star turn in the Super Six Tournament, where he dismantled opponents round by round on the way to cleaning out a stacked super middleweight division, established Ward as one of the finest boxer-punchers of his generation.
Sophisticated, subtle, perhaps the best boxer alive, he’ll do anything to win and look good doing it. But Ward is not there to knock you out. He is there to outsmart you. He is there to outbox you. He is there to beat you up.
Everyone loves Kovalev. He drops guys to the canvas with the nonchalance of eggs falling to a sidewalk. But he is not just a one-dimensional machine bent on destruction. His game is nuanced. He is not only strong. Kovalev is also smart.
Ward spoke about Kovalev during a recent teleconference call.
“We don’t approach the fight being enamored with anything a guy does well,” Ward said. “We acknowledge it and we respect it and we understand what we’re up against, but I been in the ring with big punchers, good boxers, you name it. At the end of the day, to be a champion you have to be able to beat whatever’s in front of you and Kovalev is not just a big puncher. He’s a boxer. He’s a thinker. He understands range, positioning and different things like that. There’s a lot more to him than just being a big puncher. But at the end of the day many people make the same mistake with me. They call me a great boxer or a great neutralizer, but there’s so much more going on with me than that. If I was just about defense and neutralizing then a lot of these big punchers would just try to walk through me and there’s a reason they’re not. But that’s what fight night is all about, it’s not about talking about it to try to prove your case, it’s about the opportunity to be great.”
Ward may be slowing down.
“As you get older, it’s about becoming more efficient,” he said. “I’ve heard some people say that I’m not the same fighter that I was when I was in my 20s and I hope I’m not. I should be getting better and more efficient, that’s what it’s about. It’s not about making unnecessary moves. It’s about making the necessary moves when you need to make them. You got to find ways to make adjustments to get the job done in these big moments. That’s what’s going to separate the guy who gets his hand raised from the guy who doesn’t.”
Ward has never fought in Las Vegas. This is his first pay-per-view. He wants to give the fans their money’s worth, but some contentiousness exists.
“I know they want blood,” said Ward. “They want me knocked down and staggered. I’ve studied this sport for many years and if you look at old footage of Roy Jones, Bernard Hopkins and old interviews and footage of Floyd Mayweather, it’s the same kind of things that were said about them and those three guys are legends and hall of famers. You can’t be worried about that because you understand that some people get it and some people won’t, but you have to do what you have to do.”
This article was penned by the author who is not related to the WBA and the statements, expressions or opinions referenced herein are that of the author alone and not the WBA.