Andre Ward: “My job is to get my hand raised, and that’s what we’re focused on.”

Updated: November 15, 2016

For years, Floyd Mayweather was widely considered the best fighter in the world, pound-for-pound until his retirement last year. However, Andre Ward was considered a close second.

Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) will have an opportunity to cement his place as the world’s best fighter, pound-for-pound when he challenges unified IBF/WBA and WBO light-heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) in what should be a memorable clash of unbeaten.

Kovalev-Ward “Pound For Pound” takes place on Saturday, November 19, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. HBO Pay-Per-View will televise the event beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.

“I feel that this fight with Kovalev is 50-50,” Ward said after a recent media day workout. “That’s how I approach all of my big fights. I don’t go into the fight thinking, ‘I’ve got a clear-cut advantage here’ or ‘I’ve got to run through this guy.’ Personally, for me, I can’t roll like that. I’ve got to keep myself honest, stay on my grind, keep my head down and force myself to keep working. I truly believe Kovalev is everything they say he is, and I’m everything that I’ve shown over the years.”

Ward’s humbleness, hard-working ethic, athleticism, and intelligence will be tested to it’s very limits a she tries to figure out a way to defeat the devastating and punishing Kovalev. Need not worry, however, since Ward’s experience may be the difference in what will be the biggest fight of either fighter’s career.

Ward, a former Olympic gold medalist in 2004, winner of Showtime’s Super Six: World Boxing Classic Tournament that lasted nearly two years, and a former unified WBA/WBC super middleweight champion, has the experience and knowledge needed to dethrone a fighter as relentless and punishing as Kovlaev.

As usual, Ward downplays any of the previous in-ring achievements and past performances. Every fight is different. Every fighter is different. None of the fighters (Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Chad Dawson) that Ward has faced throughout his career are as special as Kovalev.

Kovalev’s burst onto the light-heavyweight title scene began in August 2013 when he destroyed Nathan Cleverly to claim the WBO light-heavyweight title. While Ward dominated the 168-pound class, Kovalev cleaned-up the 175-pound weight division. Kovalev destroyed Ismyal Sillah,   Cedric Agnew, Blake Caparello, Jean Pascal (twice), Nabjib Mohammedi, and his 12-round performance against Bernard Hopkins to unify the WBO/WBA and IBF titles was a classic showcase of power and utter dominance.

Very few fighters can stand-up to Kovalev’s power, but Ward, isn’t worried about the champion’s punishing style.

“There are always different game plans, nuances, different things you’re working on but I respect every fight that I fight,” Ward said. “I don’t get caught up in the whole puncher thing, anybody can get you out of there if you get hit right. I don’t think I’d be sitting here in this position right now if I hadn’t had these highs and lows. We’ve got to find a way to get it done, and we’re going to find a way to get it done. I don’t care what he’s got in his gloves, who he’s knocked out or what he’s done. My job is to get my hand raised, and that’s what we’re focused on.”

Ward’s style is so illusive, he easily adapts to whatever his opponent his doing, or isn’t doing. Ward has been training systematically hard for what is another big fight that should add to his growing legacy.

Ward said: “I have days where I do some type of cardio in the morning – sprints, distant running – then go back to training camp to get some rest and eat. Then we come to the gym and spar and hit the heavy bag. It’s a monotonous process when you’re in training camp, and that’s pretty much every day. Of course we take days off to rest the body and be smart, but it’s really the same thing

every day. As you get closer, you start to pull back a little bit so you don’t over train. That’s normally the week of the fight, so up until the Saturday before the fight, you’re full steam ahead. 100 miles an hour.”

“Typically, Virgil and I will go through our process together,” Ward added. “He watches a lot more film than I do. He’s up until 3:00 a.m. or 4:00 a.m. watching film. As I’ve gotten older, I watch less film. I don’t need to see 10 fights to see tendencies and certain things. I know what I need to see. I may go back and watch a round here and there, but I try and leave room for my instincts. I’m very instinctual. You’ve got to be able to think on the fly thinking on the highest level. I leave room for that. It’s not a checklist you go down. You can’t get into a ring thinking like that. I just believe that who I am and what I have is enough, and that’s what I’m standing on.”

In addition, Ward, who has fought predominantly in California throughout his career, will be fighting in Las Vegas for the first time. Boxing’s biggest stars such as Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Lennox Lewis became Pay-Per-View entities by fighting in Vegas.

“It’s a beautiful thing to be fighting in Vegas,” Ward said. “I’m excited. What better time than now in this stage in my career. I’m just excited to continue to prepare so I can do my part to give the fans their money’s worth, those that pay to be there and those paying to watch it. That’s what I’m focused on, and I’m extremely happy to be a part of it. T-Mobile is a new arena, and a new

chapter, and to be a part of it is a beautiful thing.”

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