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Kovalev: I don’t see anything new from Andre Ward

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

By Allan Fox: Sergey Kovalev was at ringside last Saturday night to see former super middleweight champion Andre Ward’s fight against Alexander Brand (25-2, 19 KOs) at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. Kovalev says he didn’t see anything new from the 32-year-old Ward that he hadn’t seen before from him. Ward beat Brand by a 12 round unanimous decision by the scores of 120-108, 120-108 and 120-108.

The fight was televised by HBO Boxing. The commentators for HBO seemed impressed enough by Ward’s performance, but they didn’t go overboard in pouring the praise on him the way they do with other fighters. That gives you a hint that they may not have been entirely been impressed with what they saw last night. They had to say something though, because the fight was seen as a very boring one by a lot of boxing fans. For the HBO commentators to whitewash it by saying that it was good performance and good fight from Ward was predictable.

Kovalev did see one small thing that was new and that was Ward’s changing from the orthodox fighting stance to southpaw in the 6th round. However, Ward only attempted that change of stance briefly and abandoned it after he started taking head shots from the 39-year-ol Brand. It clearly wasn’t a successful experiment on Ward’s part in switching stances, as he was far more successful in fighting out of the right-handed [orthodox] stance than he was using the southpaw stance.

Kovalev and Ward will be fighting on November 19 on HBO pay-per-view. However, after seeing Ward’s boring fight last night against Brand, you have to wonder whether HBO is making a mistake by putting the Kovalev vs. Ward fight on pay-per-view. It might be better off for them to put it on regular HBO and just being happy with the likely good ratings it brings in. I think the fight is not a PPV worthy match-up in my view. HBO can obviously do what they want, but they might regret making the decision of putting this on PPV if it fails to bring in decent buys.

I believe the fight needs to be built up more before they match them. Ward needs to fight Artur Beterbiev, Joe Smith Jr., Andrzej Fonfara, Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Adonis Stevenson before he faces Kovaev. If Ward can beat all those fighters, then I see a fight against him and Kovalev being a big deal. But for Ward to go from fighting the little known Alexander Brand into a fight against Kovalev, I think it’s a mistake.

“I was here at the fight against Sullivan Barrera,” said Kovalev to “He‘s [Ward] looking good. I don’t see any change, like [with] his style, his size of his body. It’s a small difference from super middleweight to light heavyweight. It’s not a lot. This fight is going to be the biggest of my career. How will I beat him? It’s my goal right now. I will try to decide the problem and the goal on November 19. His style is very interesting, very good. He’s a champion. I saw today, it was a very good performance against Alexander Brand, but I know he will be much better when it’s our fight on November 19. I don’t see something new except the change from right orthodox to southpaw. It’s something new,” said Kovalev.

I think Kovalev is being too kind to Ward by saying that he doesn’t see any change in his ability since he moved up from super middleweight. All it takes is one glance to see that Ward isn’t the same fighter that he once was since moving up to the light heavyweight division. I don’t think that’s because of the weight going up. I see it as the negative effect from Ward’s two years of inactivity and his four years of not fighting frequently.

Ward stopped fighting on a frequent basis after winning the Super Six tournament in 2011. For all intents and purposes, Ward has been a part time fighter for the last five years. When back from the sport of boxing for five years, it’s pretty much impossible to get back to the level you were at previously. I don’t care what sport you compete in. When you go part time for five years, you’re not going to be the same athlete that you were before you became a part time athlete.

Ward tried the southpaw stance in the 6th round against Brand, but it was entirely unsuccessful. Brand was able to land his shots at a better clip than he was when Ward was fighting out of the orthodox stance. If Ward is going to try fighting southpaw against Kovalev on November 19, I can see him getting knocked out by the hard hitting Russian fighter. Some fighters are good at fighting out of the southpaw stance. For example, light welterweight champion Terence Crawford is quite good at fighting southpaw. He’s as good at fighting southpaw as he is at fighting out of his normal orthodox stance. Ward isn’t the same way. He looks more like a fighter who was fiddling around with the southpaw stance in training camp and decided to try it on a whim during the fight. It was a poor move on Ward’s part because he’s not proficient at fighting at southpaw. Kovalev has nothing to worry about at all if Ward switches to southpaw on November 19. In fact, Kovalev should hope that Ward does get overconfident and make the mistake of switching to southpaw against him, because he’ll be able to take advantage of that move.

“I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it,” Ward said about his fight against Kovalev. “I want to be the light heavyweight champion of the world. I had to get past this step. He had to get past his step. I’ll see you in November.”

Ward is going to need to bring a lot more to the table in this fight if he wants to beat Kovaev because the Ward we saw last night would lose to him badly. Ward is not going to be able to hang with Kovalev if all he can do is throw single shots all night long. That tactic is going to be a huge fail for him. Kovaev will take the singe shots that War throws and hammer him with combinations one after another until he either gets him out of there or has battered him so badly that the judges won’t have any problems in picking the right guy when it comes to scoring the fight on 11/19.

“Of course, I’m ready. He’s ready. I’m ready, too. I want to say let’s do this Nov. 19,” said Kovalev.

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