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Ward: Kovalev gets frustrated when he can’t KO his opponents

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By Allan Fox: Former super middleweight champion Andre “SOG” Ward (30-0, 15 Kos) questions the conditioning of IBF/IWBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs), and he believes he’s going to take advantage of it on November 19 when the two of them face each other on HBO PPV.

Ward says he’s seen only one of Kovalev’s fights, and yet he’s seen enough of him from the one fight to know that he gets frustrated when he can’t get a KO in his fights. It’s unclear what fight that Ward saw of Kovalev, because he didn’t seem to get frustrated when he went the full 12 rounds against his last opponent Isaac Chilemba or in his fight against Bernard Hopkins in 2014.

“He tires in fights, he gets frustrated when he can’t get guys out of there, or when he can’t knock them out and endurance and conditioning are my strengths,” said Ward to

If Kovalev doesn’t get frustrated against Ward on November 19th, then it’s going to take a different game plan for Ward for him to win the fight. If he’s counting on Kovalev getting tired and frustrated from hitting him and not being able to get the KO, I think that’s a losing strategy on Ward’s part.

You can’t count on your opponent getting frustrated. Getting caught in a guessing game like that could be a dead end for Ward, because he’s fortune telling in trying to get what Kovalev will be thinking if he can’t get a KO in the fight. Kovalev didn’t get frustrated against Chilemba or Hopkins. He seemed to change tactics mentally in going from looking for a KO to that of focusing on boxing his way to a decision. Chilemba and Hopkins weren’t going after Kovalev to make a fight of it.

Ward did not look good in his toughest fight of his comeback against Sullvan Barrera last March. Ward was mostly just trying to get out of the way of Barrera’s shots, and he wasn’t doing much on offense himself. The judges scored the fight a lot wider than I had it. I thought Ward barely won the fight, because he wasn’t doing enough on offense. Barrera looked to be the better fighter offensively with the superior power and the better hand speed. If that’s all Ward is going to do against Kovalev on November 19th, then he’s going to lose the fight.

“I want to take him places he’s never been before,” said Ward. I don’t like bullies, I don’t advocate bullying and I’ve never been bullied, and that’s not going to change in this fight. There’s no perfect fight to prepare for certain individuals and obviously you just need to be there on the night and rise to the occasion.”

Ward appears to be very cocky for someone who has yet to accomplish anything at 175 of note. For a fighter who hasn’t beaten anyone that is arguably good since his clinch-filled win over Carl Froch in 2011, Ward seems to be very confident. I could understand Ward’s confidence if he had been beating good fighters in the last five years, but he hasn’t beaten anyone of note since the Froch fight. Ward’s wins over these guys came against flawed fighters: Paul Smith, Alexander Brand, Sullivan Barrera, Edwin Rodriguez, and Chad Dawson. Those are Ward’s opponnents in the last five years since his win over Froch in 2011.

It sounds like the 32-year-old Ward is making excuses for him not getting the proper preparation for the Kovalev fight that he needed to in order to beat him. You can’t look at Ward’s two fights in his comeback against super middleweights Alexander Brand and Paul Smith and think that those fights prepared him in any way for the Kovalev fight.

Barrera was a good opponent to help Ward to prepare for the Kovalev fight, but that wasn’t enough. Ward needed more than just that fight to help get ready for Kovalev. For Ward to be prepared in the right way for the Kovalev fight, he needed to fight guys like Artur Beterbiev and Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Those would be tough fights for Ward. If the judges were going to score the fights where Ward and his opponents are landing the same amount of blows like which was the case with the Ward-Barrera fight, then you’ve got to give the fight to the guy that is landing the harder shots.

Trainer Abel Sanchez notes that Ward hasn’t gotten the preparation that he needs to be ready for the Kovalev fight, and I happen to agree with him. For Ward to be saying that there’s “no perfect fight to prepare for certain individuals,” I think that’s an excuse not to get prepared. I don’t know if it was Ward’s promoters at Roc Nation Sports who chose to match him against super middleweights Alexander Brand and Paul Smith, or if that was Ward’s case.

Whatever the case, those were really poor chooses to prepare for a fighter like Sergey Kovalev. There may not be a perfect fight to prepare for a difficult opponent, but you can do a lot better than Ward did in preparing for Kovalev. Fighting Alexander Brand and Paul Smith to get ready for Kovalev is something of a joke. At least Kovalev took on a fighter that was similar to Ward in Chilemba, You can argue that Kovalev got prepared well for the Ward fight by facing Chilemba. You cannot say that Brand and Paul Smith prepared Ward in any way for what he’s going to face when he gets inside the ring with Kovalev.

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