Andre Ward is in Sergey Kovalev’s way

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Updated: November 18, 2016
Ward-Kovalev

 The debate as to whether Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) is the best fighter in the world will be settled this Saturday, as the undefeated and unified WBO/WBA and IBF light-heavyweight champion, defends his 175-pound crown against former unified WBC/WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KOs). “Kovalev vs. Ward: Pound-for Pound,” will be televised live on HBO Pay-Per-View at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Kovalev, who has cleaned out the light-heavyweight class, eagerly awaits the biggest challenge of his career on the biggest stage of his career.

“I’m excited and everything is going good. I’m waiting for this day, November 19, and I am ready to fight,” Kovalev said. “I don’t have anything personal about him (Ward). I should to win this fight, I only have to prove (to) myself who I am. I am fighting for me first of all, and after this really for boxing fans. This is my boxing career since 11 years old and right now Andre Ward (is) in my way. And he wants to get my titles but I’m still alive.”

Although Ward has won big fights against the likes of Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, Chad Dawson, Allan Green, and Arthur Abraham, Kovalev too has won his share of big fights.

To Kovalev’s credit, he is the only fighter to have twice knocked out Jean Pascal defeat Bernard Hopkins in convincing fashion. Hopkins’ crafty style and worldly, in-ring experience wasn’t enough to sway Kovalev. Even though the Hopkins fight was amongst Kovalev’s most dominant, it was certainly a learning experience.

“I got some experience from my fight against Bernard Hopkins,” Kovalev said. “He showed that never give up. That you should to fight all 12 rounds and hope for your win.”

Ward, who won two tune-up fights in March and August of this year, in recent years had extended periods of inactivity due to a shoulder injury and a lawsuit against late promoter Dan Goossen, who died of liver cancer in September 2014.

“We agreed two fights before our fight,” Kovalev said. “I was ready last year to fight, but Andre wasn’t ready to fight without two fights at light heavyweight. We sign agreement that two more fights and then let’s fight in 2016.”

Kovalev was very candid talking about Ward and what he should expect on Saturday. Kovalev expects Ward to be best-prepared and 1000% focused.

“I think he (Ward) will look much better in my fight November 19 because, he long time didn’t fight, couple years he had a rest and Sullivan Barrera was first fight when he returned,” Kovalev added. “And with Alexander Brand he was better than against Sullivan Barrera. I accept that he’s going to look much better November 19. In best shape.”

Ward, trained by his godfather Virgil Hunter, will be opposed by Kovalev’s trainer John David Jackson, a former WBA middleweight champion in the 1990s.

“John (David Jackson) just gives me freedom to do what I want, what I would like to do,” Kovalev said. “You know, just like adjust some things and advice between rounds about technique. Working a lot with mitts. I like work with him and feel comfortable.”

One of the things that Kovalev and Jackson discussed was Ward’s movement. A fighter that uses the ring, as well as Ward, is very difficult to hit with body shots. Ward isn’t going to stand idle and allow Kovalev to land body shots. Kovalev is going to have to either counter Ward, or effectively find his range behind the jab to set-up his punches.

“I don’t think that Andre Ward (will) let me use a lot of body shots because he has great legs and a lot of movements,” Kovalev said. “You know he’s very smart. And I think first part of this fight is going to be a lot mentally, but I should prove that I’m Krusher and that I’m going to do my job. He’s going to do his job, me to do my job.”

In his last fight, Kovalev did dominate Isaac Chilemba in July, but did not get the spectacular knockout that everyone had grown accused to watching. Kovalev did use his performance against Chilemba as a blueprint (somewhat) as to how he will fight Ward this Saturday.

“I think my last fight against Chilemba it was like a similar fight you know, because Chilemba’s a little bit style as Andre Ward. But Andre Ward is Andre Ward, a little bit different and stronger, smarter, undefeated and more motivated than Chilemba. I’m interested what he will bring November 19 to the ring.”

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