Andre “S.O.G.” Ward(31-0) and Sergey “The Krusher” Kovalev(30-1-1) will once again knuckle up to face off against one another in another superfight, this one is being billed “The Rematch”.
This much anticipated rematch between these two top five pound for pound fighters takes place June 17 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and will be for the unified WBA, WBO, IBF, and the vacant Ring magazine light heavyweight titles.
In their first encounter, Ward had to pick himself off of the canvas in the early going to then make key adjustments like better inside fighting to beat Kovalev down the stretch in a very close controversial decision win.
In looking at both fighters, I feel that each fighter just seems to have that one difficult style that will always trouble one another. Ward has the better close range fighting game and Kovalev is a better long range fighter than Ward, so fights between these two combatants will always be tight close fights.
So needless to say, I am expecting to see another close possible controversial decision win for the victor in this rematch clash. It will be very interesting to see which fighter will make the biggest recognizable adjustments to get some separation in those close rounds to secure the win.
Ward has got to get right at Kovalevs chest at the exact second off of the release of his jabs. I would also like to see Ward attack the body mercifully due to the fact that Kovalev appears to be extremely bothered and has to reposition his stance whenever his midsection is being hit.
As for Kovalev, he must fight at an arms length distance to give himself the absolute best striking opportunities. Kovalev also has to continue to use that long stiff jab that gave Ward fitts in their first affair.
If I am Kovalev, I would employ my jab to also stab with it towards the pit of Wards stomach to help set up his killer right hand over the top.
This one is really really hard to call, for me the safe pick is to take Ward by unanimous decision. However, as I continue to study their first fight, I come away from it thinking that Ward can NOT box Kovalev any better than he did in the last six rounds of their first encounter. And here is the thing with that, even against an exhausted Kovalev, even then I didn’t see Ward sweep those pivotal last six rounds.
Staying on Kovalev and his conditioning issues, Team Kovalev has this time around hired a Russian conditioning guru to make sure that the Kovalev gas tank is sitting pretty for the later rounds.
Problem is that I believe Kovalevs exhaustion is of the mind. Ward has a chess boxing style that forces foes to think faster than they are used to, so it’s not out of the question that Kovalev was and may be drained more so mentally than physically once again.
In saying all of that, I am taking Ward to outwit and outsmart Kovalev in a 7 rounds to 5 split decision.