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Usyk helping Kovalev prepare for Ward

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By Dan Ambrose: Unbeaten WBO World cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk says he’s assisting IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) prepare for his fight this month against former 168lb world champion Andre “SOG” Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) on November 19 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The 6’3” southpaw Usyk says he’s helping Kovalev by working as a sparring partner for him. That’s a kind gesture on the 29-year-old Usyk’s part, as he’s a world champion now after his recent one-sided 12 round unanimous decision win over Krzysztof Glowacki last September in Gdansk, Poland.

Usyk beat Glowacki by the scores 117-111, 119-109 and 117-111. Glowacki was considered to be the best fighter in the cruiserweight division by many boxing fans before Usyk beat him.
“We want him to prepare good,” said Usyk to about Kovalev in his fight against Andre Ward. “I’m going to be his sparring partner.”

When asked who he thinks will win the fight between Kovalev and Ward, Usyk said, “If I had super powers, I’d tell you.”

It’s unclear how long Usyk has been helping Kovalev prepare for the Ward fight. If he’s just starting, then there’s not a lot of time to get him ready. However, it might not take a lot of sparring from Usyk to sharpen Kovalev up for Ward. Even if it’s just a week, that could plenty of time, because it’s happening right before the fight this month.

Usyk is a lot different fighter than Ward. He’s three inches taller than the 6’0” Ward, and he has and seven inch reach advantage. Usyk is also a much bigger puncher with either hand than Ward. Sparring Usyk has got to be a handful for Kovalev due to his size, mobility, power and overall reach. Usyk is a very mobile fighter, and much more mobile than Andre Ward.

Usyk isn’t as fast of hand than Ward, but he’s completely different in a lot of ways. Ward isn’t a southpaw, but he does like to fight out of the southpaw stance from time to time. Usyk could get Kovalev ready for that part of Ward’s game. But if you look at how Ward fights nowadays, he’s mostly stationary now. He doesn’t move much.

That could change for this fight, but I still don’t think we’ll see a lot of movement from Ward. He doesn’t seem to have the legs that he had five years ago when he was fighting on a regular basis. Ward has been a part time fighter for the last four years, and that might be the reason why he doesn’t move like he used to. When a fighter is inactive for a long period of time, they lose parts of their games. With Ward, he seems to have lost some hand speed and mobility.

It would be interesting if Ward moves up to the cruiserweight division one day to take on Usyk. I don’t know if Ward will make the move anytime soon, but it’s not likely that we’re going to see Usyk drain down to 175 to accommodate Ward of World Boxing Council light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson. Usyk is too big for him to melt down to the light heavyweight division.

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