By Dan Ambrose: Former world champion Bernard Hopkins doesn’t think it’s a good idea for former WBA/WBC 168lb champion Andre Ward (28-0, 15 KOs) to face unbeaten IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev at this point in his career.
Hopkins reasons that Kovalev is doing really well with his career in recent fights, and he thinks that Ward should just look to get some fights under his belt at 175 before he starts thinking about fighting Kovalev right now. Hopkins is looking at Ward’s career from a business standpoint, and he feels it’s a bad idea for Ward to take the fight right now with Kovalev without milking the fight for as long as possible before taking it.
Ward just signed a three-fight contract with HBO, and it’s unknown if part of the contract had wording for a fight against Kovalev. If Ward turns around and doesn’t fight Kovalev in his three-fight contract, HBO might not be too happy about it.
If all they’re going to get is opponents like Sullivan Barrera (17-0, 12 KOs) instead of Kovalev, they might not feel too happy about it. Barrera is a good fighter, but if HBO thought they were signing Ward to a three fight contract hoping to get a Ward-Kovalev fight in at least one of the fights, it would have to be a disappointment for HBO.
“Andre Ward, I would love to see him as a fan, but if I’m a business partner, I would say wait a minute. The man [Kovalev] has been on a roll since fighting Hopkins; why would I throw Andre Ward into a situation without getting at least two fights under his belt. If they’re wise, they should try to milk it [Kovalev-Ward fight] for as long as they can,” said Hopkins to Fighthype.
Ward is supposed to be in his second of his contract with HBO right now. His first fight was going to be last November on the Miguel Cotto vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez fight card. Ward pulled out of the card due to a knee problem. Now he’s fighting his first fight of his HBO contract against Barrera next Saturday. You’d have to think that Ward won’t fight against after this fight until least November.
If he doesn’t fight Kovalev at that time, then the fight between them won’t be able to take place until 2017. That’s if Ward doesn’t follow Hopkins’ advice to milk the Kovalev fight for as long as possible. If Ward does that, then he could in theory fly through his three-fight contract with HBO without the Kovalev fight being one of them. The question then would be – does HBO sign Ward up for another three-fight contract hoping that one of the fights will be against Kovalev, or do they just give up on Ward and move in another direction?
I don’t think Ward can let the Kovalev fight marinate. Ward needs a big win to increase his popularity in the sport, because it’s been five years since his last big fight against Carl Froch in 2011. If Ward chooses to just take soft fights to milk his contract with HBO and let his fight with Kovalev marinate, I don’t think it’s going to become a bigger fight. The only way it would become a bigger fight would be if Ward beat the likes of Adonis Stevenson, Eleider Alvarez, Artur Beterbiev, Andrzej Fonfara and Juergen Braehmer in the next two years. I would be very surprised if any of those fighters agreed to face Ward.