Sergey Kovalev will defend his WBA/WBO/IBF light heavyweight titles against Andre Ward over a scheduled 12 rounds at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, November 19, but only if both men beat their upcoming respective opponents. Kovalev is slated to meet Isaac Chilemba on July 11, while Ward is scheduled to fight on July 30 (or perhaps August 6) against an opponent yet to be named.
Thirty-three-year-old Kovalev, a Russian who fights out of Fort Lauderdale, is a seven-year pro (29-0-1, 26 KOs) who won the WBO title in August 2013 by stopping Nathan Cleverly via fourth-round TKO and the WBA and IBF straps in November 2014 by beating Bernard Hopkins via unanimous decision. The aptly nicknamed “Krusher” last defended this January, retiring Jean Pascal in the seventh. Kovalev had beaten Pascal once before, last March, stopping him by eighth-round TKO. Undefeated, the power-punching Russian has but one “blemish” on his record, a technical decision draw against Grover Young in August 2011.
Born in San Francisco but fighting out of Oakland since 2004, 32-year-old Ward is undefeated (29-0, 15 KOs). Second-ranked by the WBA, “S.O.G.” won the sanctioning body’s Super World super middleweight title by beating Mikkel Kessler via 11th-round technical decision in November 2009. He won the WBC version by defeating Carl Froch via unanimous decision in December 2011. The WBC stripped him of his title in April 2013 due to inactivity. He vacated his WBA belt last November when he moved up in weight. He’s fought once as a light heavy, beating Sullivan Barrera by unanimous decision this March.
Upsets happen (think Andrzej Fonfara-Joe Smith Jr.), but it’s highly unlikely that Kovalev and Ward will lose their upcoming interim matches. Assuming they don’t, the bout (an HBO pay-per-view) must surely be considered the most anticipated of the year.
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.