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Ward vs Kovalev: Sergey’s power will be a problem for Andre

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

By Allan Fox: Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) is now scheduled to challenge IBF/WBA/WBC light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) in the next three months on November 19 in what will be a real test of whether Ward can hang with the best at 175. It’s good that the fight got negotiated because for a time there it was unclear if it would get put together.

We don’t yet whether Ward is cut out to be fighting in the light heavyweight division because he’ s only fought one actual light heavyweight during his three-fight comeback and that was the badly flawed Sullivan Barrera. Ward’s other two fights came against super middleweights Alexander Brand and Paul Smith. Ward didn’t even look good in those fights. He couldn’t do anything with Brand, and Smith staggered him in the 7th round with a right hand in their fight last year.

Kovalev, 33, has all the advantages in this fight due to his punching power, high work rate and the fact that he’s been active for the last five years. Ward stopped being an active fighter after his win over Carl Froch in 2011. Since that win, Ward has fought on an irregular basis.

The inactivity has hurt Ward’s skills in a major way, because he’s not the fighter that he once was. While some feel that Ward will eventually get back to where he was in the past if he fights enough times, I don’t know if it’s possible for Ward to get back to where he was before, because he looks slower of hand and foot. His reflexes don’t appear to be as fast as well. But more importantly, Ward’s punch volume is not as high as it should be for him to take on a guy like Kovalev. Ward isn’t going to beat Kovalev with his hunt and peck style of fighting. That approach works on limited fighter like Smith, Brand and Barrera, but not on a talented fighter in his prime like Kovalev.

The venue for the Kovalev-Ward fight will be a neutral one at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ward is the American, but Kovalev has a lot of boxing fans in the Nevada area and he could have the crowd on his side on November 19th, especially if he’s the one trying to make the fight by slugging the entire time. Ward could turn off the fans if he chooses to box, hold and wrestle.

The fans want to see action, and Ward is going to need to raise his game considerably or else he’s going to be booed out of the arena. The days where Ward clinched and wrestled his way to victories in the Super Six tournament are long over. The boxing fans are going to want to see action in this fight for them to feel like they’ve got their money’s worth. The fight will fight will be televised on HBO pay-per-view, so the two fighters have a responsibility to put in some effort to make it an interesting fight to watch.

“Now it will be the venue for the first Pound-For-Pound showdown of the new millennium. This should be a great night!” said Kovalev’s promoter Kathy Duva.

The whole pound for pound jazz is kind of overrated. I think that stuff is lost on the casual boxing fans. They only care about who wins and how exciting the fight is. The pound-for-pound stuff is a hardcore fan type of thing, and there aren’t enough of those types of fans that really care. The important thing that comes out of the Kovalev-Ward fight is an exciting performance and a great ending. If this fight turns out to be a stinker like the recent Terence Crawford vs. Viktor Postol and the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Andre Berto fight last year, it’s going to anger a lot of the paying fans.

The winner of the Ward vs. Kovalev fight will be seen at least as the second best fighter in the 175lb division. For them to be seen as the main guy, they’ll need to take on and beat WBC champion Adonis Stevenson. It’s unknown if that fight can ever get made. Hopefully they can make that fight happen in 2017, so that the boxing fans can see who the No.1 fighter is in the division.

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