Kovalev beats Ward predicts Cleverly

By Boxing News - 11/15/2016 - Comments

Kov_Ward Presser

By Scott Gilfoid: WBA ‘regular’ light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly is predicting a 12 round decision win for IBF/WBA/WBO 175lb champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) in his fight against unbeaten talent Andre “SOG” Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) this Saturday night on HBO pay-per-view at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Cleverly sees Kovalev as the bigger fighter than Ward, even though both guys are the same height at 6-foot and look the same size inside the ring. Cleverly says Kovalev will be the busier fighter, and force Ward into a shell on Saturday night.

Cleverly (30-3, 16 KOs) also believes that he and the Kovalev-Ward winner will be facing each other in the future. Gosh, I wouldn’t want to see Cleverly back inside the ring with Kovalev; not after the way that he was blasted out by the Russian fighter three years ago in a 4th round knockout loss in 2013. Cleverly was dropped repeatedly by Kovalev in the 3rd. Cleverly was so badly hurt at the end of the round, the referee had to help him back to his corner. The fight was halted at the start of the 4th with Cleverly hurt and in no shape to continue. If Kovalev and Cleverly face each other again, I think it’ll be the same outcome. Cleverly is a good fighter, but he lacks the power, defense and the punch resistance to compete with a guy like Kovalev. Yeah, Cleverly can fight Kovalev again if he wants to, but I think the outcome would be academic. Kovalev would be too strong for Cleverly once again. Cleverly does better against the lighter punchers. He can hang with some of the hard hitters like Andrzej Fonfara and Braehmer, but he clearly is not going to be able to compete on the same playing field with the likes of Kovalev, Artur Beterbiev, Oleksandr Govozdyk, Joe Smith Jr. and Adonis Stevenson. Those guys hit too hard for Cleverly in my estimation.

It’s premature for the 29-year-old Cleverly to be talking about such things right now, because he’s obviously going to need to face former WBA champion Juergen Braehmer in a rematch soon, and there’s a chance that he could lose to the German fighter the second time around. Cleverly recently beat Braehmer by a 6th round injury stoppage last October in Germany. The fight was stopped due to Braehmer suffering an arm injury. However, if the fight had been allowed to continue for the full 12 rounds, it’s likely that Braehmer would have won, because he was landing the cleaner and harder shots. Braehmer was ahead on all three of the judges’ scorecards by the scores 58-56, 58-56 and 58-56. I agree with those scores. Braehmer, 38, was the bigger fighter of the two by far, and would have won if it had gone the full 12. Braehmer and Cleverly will definitely be fighting each other again, and likely in Germany. I just don’t see Cleverly being able to beat Braehmer unless he suffers another injury.

Cleverly said this to ESPN.com about his prediction of the Kovalev vs. Ward fight on Saturday night:

“It will be close, and go the distance, but I’m going with Kovalev,” Cleverly said. “I see why people are thinking Ward, but Kovalev keeps his distance and has good balance, he has got long punches – and he is the bigger guy. He will win the rounds on work-rate and make Ward very defensive. I think he will win a close decision,” said Cleverly.

I hate to say it, but I think Cleverly is DEAD WRONG with his prediction of Kovalev winning. The thing is you have to have T-A-L-E-N-T, and I think Kovalev is lacking in that department. The talent just isn’t there. Now with Ward, you’ve got a real TALENT of the first order. He does everything well. He’s just gifted. I see Ward as the Mozart of boxing. He’s a genius inside the ring.

I think Ward is going to use his superior boxing skills to make Kovalev look like an amateur on Saturday night. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ward unveils some punching power in this fight to possibly score a knockout. He’s talking about having some surprises in store for the 33-year-old Kovalev in the power department. I think Ward and his trainer Virgil Hunter have been working on his punching power during this training camp in beautiful Hayward, California. Ward may come out there on Saturday showing more than he ever did before.

If Ward increases his punching power by only 30%, it would put him up there with Kovalev in the power department. Ward is one of those Ty Cobb type of guys, who liked to focus on be beauty of the sport by using defense and his superior boxing skills to win fights rather than shooting for knockouts to win in a more brutal, some would say primitive style. Ty Cobb is a baseball great known for getting a lot of hits rather than home runs. Cobb preferred to do that. But just to prove to people that he could hit homers, Cobb went out and hit three homers in one game in 1925 at the age of 38. I think Ward is the same way. He’s never cared about getting a bunch of knockouts, because he’s always been more fascinated by the defensive side of the sport of boxing. However, for this fight against the hard hitting Kovalev, Ward has been working on his punching power. He obviously knows that it would be better for him to KO Kovalev to get him out of there so that he doesn’t have to get hit by him so many times.

Kovalev is dangerous. Even if he whiffs on 99 percent of his punches, he could hurt Ward with the 1 percent of his shots that he does land. Ward can’t afford to leave Kovalev out there swinging for the fences in the later rounds of the fight. He needs to KO him and get out of there as fast as possible on Saturday. It wouldn’t be good news for Ward to have Kovalev throwing his big power shots in the 11th and 12th, looking for a single punch KO. By that point in the fight, Kovalev could be well behind on the scorecards and badly in need of a knockout to get the win.

“The winner is my official mandatory, so will collide with me at some point in the not-so-distant future,” said Cleverly about the Ward vs. Cleverly winner. “They will get their business done and I will get my business done and then it could happen. If it’s Kovalev, people will think I’m crazy to get back in the ring with him, but I’m a fighter, a risk-taker; if it’s there I will do it.”

Cleverly shouldn’t worry his head about getting the winner of the Ward-Kovalev fight, because there are still obstacles in front of him that he needs to get out of the way before that fight takes place. If I’m Cleverly, I’d be just concerned with how I can beat Braehmer the second time, because I would know that he was the better fighter on the light last October. Cleverly needs to come up with some kind of game plan that can negate Braehmer’s talent and punching power.