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Kovalev to be ringside for Ward vs. Brand

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

By Patrick McHugh: Sergey Kovalev will be at ringside tonight for Andre Ward’s tune-up fight against Alexander Brand (25-1, 19 KOs) at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. Kovalev, the IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion, will be in attendance to scout out Ward, who he’ll be facing next on November 19th on HBO pay-per-view, provide that Ward wins the fight tonight against the 39-year-old Brand. The fight between Kovalev and Ward will be officially announce inside the ring after the Ward-Brand fight. The fight will be televised on HBO Boxing.

The venue for the Kovalev vs. Ward fight was supposed to be taking place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, there’s a possibility that it could be moved to Madison Square Garden in New York. Having the fight staged in New York might help with ticket sales for the venue due to the large Russian community in the New York area. Having the fight in Las Vegas isn’t as good a deal because Kovalev and Ward’s fans would need to travel a long ways to attend the fight.

Kovalev, 6’0”, will have a good chance of beating Ward on November 19 due to his size, jab and punching power. Kovalev also throws more punches than Ward typically does. I’m not sure that Ward would be able to increase his punch output for a fight against the Russian fighter. It’s more likely the case that Ward will try and wrap Kovalev up in a clinch to keep him from getting his shots off on the inside. On the outside, Ward will use movement and his stiff jab to try and control the action.

You can expect to see Ward using a lot more movement in this fight than he’s used in his last two encounters inside the ring against Sullivan Barrera and Paul Smith. Ward was able to use movement in those fights because they were slow and not huge punchers that he had to worry about. Against Kovalev, Ward would need to worry all the time because if Kovalev catches him with a big shot, he could hurt Ward and then get him out of there. Ward has been hurt in the past by different fighters, but none of them were able to take advantage of the situation after hurting him. Kovalev is good enough to do a number on Ward if he stuns him with one of his big shots.

Brand has a chance of being the spoiler of Ward’s big plans by somehow beating him tonight. It’s going to be hard though because of Ward’s huge size advantage in the fight. If the two of them were the same size, then you could give Brand a small chance of scoring an upset due to his punching power. However, the 6-foot Ward looks like he’s three inches taller and with a lot longer reach. Brand’s only chance of winning the fight is if he can get inside Ward’s long reach and tag him with big power shots.

Ward will likely look to try and put on a show tonight in hitting the 39-year-old Brand at will with power shots. If Ward can score a knockout in this fight, it would help hype his fight against Kovalev up by making the casual boxing fans think that he’s a super exciting knockout puncher. The reality is that Ward has always been a finesse type fighter, content to win his fights by any means necessary. If that means doing a lot of holding and wrestling to win, Ward has always been ready to use those tools to win.

Against Brand, it’s in Ward’s best interest to come out of his finesse mode so that he can score a knockout and impress the casual boxing fans. The more fans that Ward wins over with his performance tonight against Brand, and then the more of them that will want to purchase his fight against Kovalev on HBO pay-per-view on November 19. For that reason, it’s quite likely that Ward will try his hardest tonight to get a knockout win over Brand. Ward’s management at Roc Nation Sports has picked a small enough and old enough fighter for him to get the KO. All Ward needs to do is make sure he sits down on his shots enough tonight for him to get the stoppage.

Ward could hurt his cause by failing to impress if he chooses to fight a safety first fight against Brand. That wouldn’t be good because Kovalev failed to impress in his recent 12 round decision win over Isaac Chilemba last July in Russia. Ward’s management probably didn’t realize what the negative reaction would be for them to match him against such an old and small fighter like Brand.

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