On Saturday, November 19, at the T-Mobile Arena is Las Vegas, Nevada, WBA Undisputed light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) the knockout artist from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, by way of Kopeysk, Russia, defends his WBA/WBO/IBF titles against former WBA Super World super middleweight champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (30-0, 15 KOs), the Fighting Pride of Oakland, California.
With Isaac Chilemba and Alexander Brand out of the way, all eyes are focused on the upcoming bout between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward.
In a Q&A led by Michael Buffer, Kovalev, his trainer John David Jackson, his manager Egis Klimas, and his promoter Kathy Duva addressed several issues concerning the fight.
“Knowing from experience,” said Duva, “the most fun anyone in my position could have is to be in the position to announce that the biggest fight of the year that everyone wants to see, between two of the top five pound-for-pound fighters that everyone wants to see, with undefeated records—usually it’s a lot of fun.”
Speaking of fun, Michael Buffer had the pleasure of introducing the man of the hour.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we have here the fighter that is universally recognized by most as the true, undisputed light heavyweight champion of the world. That is with no disrespect to Adonis Stephenson—the man the fans and most pundits would agree is definitely the most universally recognized light heavyweight champion of the world is Sergey Kovalev, so let me turn the mic over him and we will take questions.”
“Thank you everyone for coming,” said Kovalev. “I am really happy about the fight that is coming up against Andre Ward on November 19th and I am really excited. I am really excited because the two best boxers in the light heavyweight division will fight. It is three months before the fight and I will just take my time and it will happen.”
Kovalev was asked about the risk-reward ratio in fighting an undefeated world champion who only recently moved up to light heavy.
“This fight for me is dangerous,” he said. “Any fight is dangerous but this fight is really important for my career and for the boxing world because it is a really high level for both of us. When I was a child I was just dream to be on this level so this fight for me really means a lot. For me this fight means everything in my boxing career and after this fight we will find out who is the best pound-for-pound.”
Kovalev’s manager agrees.
“Right now he is a top level guy in the light heavyweight division,” Klimas said. “There is no doubt about it. We never wanted to fight guys that we didn’t know about. They are going to step in the ring and the winner will be the pound-for-pound guy. Sergey Kovalev deserves to fight for the pound-for-pound.”
Who is pound-for-pound is subjective. There are nonstop punching machines like Roman “Chocolito” Gonzalez. There are master boxers like Guillermo Rigondeaux. Life would be considerably poorer without them both. But the winner of Kovalev-Ward will be up there where the air is rare, indisputably among the greatest fighters of their generation.
John David Jackson, a canny operator in and out of the ring, was asked why we don’t see fights of this caliber more often.
“One of the problems making these types of fights is the promoters can’t get along,” Kovalev’s trainer said. “The fighters for the most part will fight each other. Sometimes it is not within their powers to make the fights and that’s why sometimes you don’t see these big fights. Sometimes one TV network has one fighter and another TV network has another fighter. There are a lot of reasons the fights are not made but I am glad this fight is made for the fans—they get to see a world-class fight between two world-class fighters on a world-class level.”
Kovalev is a superstar in Russia. He gets mobbed when he steps out the door.
“I can vouch for that,” Buffer said. “We had a fight in Russia a few weeks ago in Ekaterinburg, Russia and Sergey literally could not go anywhere. He was attracting hordes of people. He is so admired in Russia. There are so many great fighters coming out of Russia. They don’t think of him as the light heavyweight champion or a pound-for-pound champion. They think he can walk on water in the world of boxing.”
Kovalev’s fight against Isaac Chilemba was not his best performance.
“I was happy with the victory over Chilemba,” said Kovalev. “This guy was not a punching bag. He was very uncomfortable for me…I was happy with my last fight and it was good preparation for my next fight for November 19th.”
John David Jackson was also pleased with the performance.
“I was happy with the victory,” he said. “Could he have done some things differently? Yes and he realizes he will be more prepared for the Ward fight. You cannot take any fighter lightly. There is always room for learning and with each passing fight you learn more. And now it’s time to move on and be better prepared for that fight.”
Kovalev decisioned Chilemba, albeit with some difficulty, but believes he will knock out Andre Ward.
“I think so, yes,” said Kovalev. “I will try to knock him out because I am Krusher and I try to live up to my nickname. Let’s do it.”
Knocking out Ward won’t be easy. He is a moving target that punches back.
“He is an intelligent, very smart fighter,” Jackson said. “Anyone that has gone undefeated as an amateur and then undefeated as a pro, that is something you’ve got to respect. Having said that, he does like a challenge. He is difficult and he is good at what he does. We have to break him down systematically and beat him at Sergey’s game. He may do some things that he gets away with, but we will break him down and the fight will go our way. It is a dangerous fight because he is a boxer—he is not a puncher—he has a tendency to be more crafty. So it is a great challenge. That’s why I love the challenge of an Andre Ward fight.”
John David Jackson was a helluva a fighter and knows boxing inside out and upside down. He was asked about Ward’s recent comment comparing himself to Floyd Mayweather, Roy Jones Jr., and Bernard Hopkins.
“He is far from Roy and Floyd and he has a little bit of Bernard in him,” said Jackson. “But he is not them. Ward is good at what Ward does. He is Ward and that works for him. His style is different from everybody else’s and he has mastered that. It is not the most exciting style in the world and it’s not a fan favorite, but it works for him and it got him to be as good as he is today and you can’t take him lightly. So it works for him and whatever shortcomings he has we have to expose that in this fight.”
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.