Hopkins favors Kovalev over Andre Ward
By Allan Fox: Bernard Hopkins believes that it wouldn’t be a good thing for former WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward (28-0, 15 KOs) to get inside the ring and face IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs) right now due to Ward’s inactivity.
Hopkins notes that Ward hasn’t been fighting on a regular basis for some time, and because of that, he feels that it would be bad management to let Ward face the hard hitting Kovalev. Hopkins doesn’t say how long he thinks that Ward’s promoters at Roc Nation Sports should wait before they put him in with Kovalev.
Hopkins just thinks that it wouldn’t be a good idea to let him face the Russian fighter right now. Unfortunately for Ward, he’s under contract with HBO, and the idea is that he faces Kovalev near the end of 2016. If Ward says he wants to use his entire three-fight contract with HBO for tune-up purposes, I’m not sure that HBO is going to like that idea.
I think they want the Kovalev-Ward PPV fight this year. That means that Ward is not going to get endless tune-ups to make up for his lost time that he missed in his career by rarely fighting from 2012 to 2016. Ward fought only once in 2012, 2013 and 2015. He didn’t fight at all in 2015. Thus far, Ward hasn’t fought this year yet, but he’s expected to fight on March 26 against light heavyweight Sullivan Barrera.
“Right now, it would be Sergey because of the activity of Andre Ward,” Hopkins said to esnewsreporting about who would win between the two fighters. “A guy like Sergey is getting better. I know from experience; he’s getting better every fight. We know he can punch. When you look at Andre Ward, who had a long distance of inactivity, who is now back on track through Roc Nation, he’s now in position to get the fights that he wants, and signs a big deal with HBO. Now he can fulfill that greatness that he has inside of him. He has the chance to beat anybody under the right circumstances of being ready in the [light heavyweight] division, but it won’t be a cakewalk. Right now, it would be really bad management to throw him in the ring with Sergey. Right now because of activity, not because activity, not because of talent; because of activity to get him prepared to get him prepared mentally and physically. You understand, I was in the ring with him [Kovalev]. When a guy hits hard like a guy like Sergey, he has to be seen as the most accurate and the biggest puncher right now. Absolutely.”
Hopkins fought Kovalev in his last fight in November 2014, and lost the fight by a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision by the scores of 120-106, 120-107 and 120-107. Hopkins hasn’t come close to fighting since then.
In looking at Ward’s performance in his last fight against Paul Smith last year, I think he’ll have a hard time beating Kovalev. Ward won’t be able to beat Kovalev by fighting on the outside. If Ward reverts back to his Super Six tournament smothering style, I don’t think he’ll be strong enough to wrestle Kovalev for 12 rounds. Kovalev is the stronger guy than Ward.
When Ward was wrestling guys against the ropes and smothering their offense with grappling moves, he was usually about the same size as the guys he was wrestling with in the ring. Ward won’t have the power to wrestle the bigger Kovalev for 12 rounds to smother his offense. In other words, Ward would need to be able to actually fight Kovalev if he wanted to beat him. Ward does have a good jab and fast hands, but Kovalev’s is just as good, and he has far superior punching power. That’s why I think Ward will revert back to the smothering tactics that he used in his fights in the Super Six tournament in hopes of keeping Kovalev from throwing punches.
Ward did beat a light heavyweight in September of 2012, when he stopped former WBC 175lb champion Chad Dawson in the 10th round. However, Dawson made a huge blunder in coming down to 168 to fight Ward instead of making him fight at 175. The result was that Dawson ended up weight drained. There’s a big difference between Dawson and Kovalev. Beating Dawson is no big deal, as we’ve seen with him losing to Adonis Stevenson in one round and recently getting beaten by Tommy Karpency.
I don’t think it’s going to make a difference how many tune-up fights Ward has to get ready for Kovalev. I think it’s a case of Ward being too small, too weak, and too out of his best weight class to beat Kovalev. I also think Ward missed the best years of his career by rarely fighting, and he’s not the same fighter that won the Super Six tournament in 2011.
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