Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev: The Boxing Tribune Preview

By BT1
Nov. 17, 2016

By Danny Howard

Finally, this weekend has come and with it brings the most competitive and important fight for the year. The nights two competitors are both in a place going into this fight where their legitimacies are finally put front and center with the winner being a very strong candidate for the best fighter in the sport.

Sergey Kovalev may be the best fighter at Light Heavyweight, but has earned that distinction without finding himself across from an opponent that could truly challenge him. That opportunity presents itself in former Super Middleweight champion Ward, who himself is looking to reaffirm his status as the sports best after years of being dragged through the mud for the “audacity” of taking steps to control his destiny.

Of course, that belt isn’t going to be handed over so easily and it seems appropriate considering Ward’s circumstances that he’ll have to take it from the toughest fight out there in Kovalev. The Russian destroyer’s reign at Light Heavyweight has been a crippling and bruising one, emphasized by his battering of Bernard Hopkins last year.

Kovalev’s strength is in part boosted because of his skill; not being a one-dimensional slugger who hopes he’s just stronger than the guy in front of him. His opponents haven’t been up to snuff when it comes to actually figuring out what to do with him when they’re across from him. If they aren’t already in survival mode, they usually resolve to hit him with whatever they can in a desperate attempt to stop him.

Ward doesn’t normally enjoy that advantage, but he’s been able to beat up and embarrass much a much higher quality of opposition than Kovalev has. Since moving up to Light Heavyweight, Ward looks mostly the same as he did at Super Middleweight even with a few years off from his self-imposed exile, still looking good in every area to be considered dangerous.

Of course, Ward brings something to the game that might hurt or help his chances and that is the ability to fight on the inside. Kovalev is a ranged fighter, but the idea of working close to him is suicide to most, but Ward’s punch selection along with his gritty style could cause a lot of trouble if he can handle Kovalev on the way in there.

The critical moment for either man will be in the first four rounds of the fight. If Kovalev can hurt Ward or even drop him, essentially keeping Ward away from him, he will be able to escape with the win. If Ward can slow the pace down enough and work his way on the inside, mugging Kovalev and keeping him off-balance when he does try to engage, Ward could run away with this one with a considerable amount of distance.

Ultimately, class beats brass when all other things are equal, and that’s what we have here. Nobody else can beat these two but each other, but Ward’s better skill set as well as Kovalev’s questionable late-round stamina and tendency to be a little careless when things are going slow will build up an early hole for him. There might be drama late in the fight, but it’ll just purely be dramatic because of how out of reach the fight will seem at that time.

Andre Ward will not only pick up the biggest win of his career along with the Light Heavyweight title after a stunningly one-sided decision win over Sergey Kovalev, but may do so in a performance that will re-establish his status as boxing’s pound for pound best fighter.

Danny Howard has been all over the place, writing for FightHype, the Yahoo Contributor Network and the Examiner. He also became a legend in his own mind by writing “And Stay Down! Boxing's Worst Comebacks, which you can either buy on Amazon or email him for a free copy. Howard doesn't have time to drown in the nega-verse that is social media, but you can find him on Facebook or breathe life into his long dead Twitter @dbbox625 or let him have it directly at Daniel.Howard6@att.net