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Lewis gives Ward edge over Kovalev


By Scott Gilfoid: Former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis gives Andre Ward the slight edge over IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev on Saturday night. Lewis thinks Ward has to get off to a fast start against Kovalev, and to make sure he gets close to him so that he can get his shots off.

The closer the better for Ward, as he’s got a great inside game that he uses to dominate his opponents. Lewis sees Kovalev being tough on the outside where he can land his big power shots. That’s not good for Ward to let Kovalev stay outside. Ward needs to crowd Kovalev to keep him from getting his big shots off the way he likes to do.

Kovalev can’t fight on the inside. I’ve seen him struggle when his opponents got in close. In Kovalev’s fights against Jean Pascal, he looked confused and troubled. Pascal could have given himself a real chance of winning both fights against Kovalev if he’d stayed in close instead of letting him get to the outside.

Lewis said this to about the Kovalev vs. Ward fight:

“I think it’s a style match-up because both have different styles, but I may give the edge to Ward, although he is taking on a bigger and heavier guy,” said Lewis. “I believe Andre has to get it going from the get-go. Kovalev is great at distance and Andre really has to cut down the space between them.”

It goes without saying that the 32-year-old Ward needs to start quickly against Kovalev. If he starts out slowly, he may not be around for long. Kovalev tends to score a lot of knockouts in the first three rounds of his fights. Of course, Kovalev is always dangerous, even in the later rounds of his fights.

Most of the KOs that Kovalev gets happens early in his fights. So it’s in Ward’s best interest to start quickly, and not let Kovalev get his shots off during the early rounds. Ward might want to go back to the same game plan that he used to get the better of Carl Froch in their fight in 2011. Ward did a marvelous job of smothering Froch by staying close to him and nailing him on the inside. Froch was as helpless as a baby in that fight, and didn’t have any real ideas what to do to land his bigger shots.

“If Kovalev finds it hard to hit Andre and get in on him it may be one plus to him [Ward],” Lewis said. “If Ward can’t get in and get into Kovalev’s body or hit him with any combinations, it will be a plus for him [Kovalev].”

It’s pretty clear to me that Kovalev is going to have MAJOR trouble on Saturday night landing anything at all. I watched Kovalev’s last fight against Isaac Chilemba earlier today, and I think he looked terrible in that fight. Kovalev wasn’t throwing shots, and he was missing many of the shots he did throw. The rounds were decided on a small handful of punches that Kovalev was landing. These were not one-sided rounds by any means. Kovalev barely won most of the rounds, and the only reason he did that was because Chilemba wasn’t busy enough. He was totally defensive. Chilemba’s trainer needed to tell him to let his hands go, because he probably would have won the fight if he’d thrown 10 to 20 more punches per rounds. Chilemba’s accuracy was excellent in that fight. The only thing that was missing was his work-rate. Ward is a smart fighter, and he’s not going to need to be told by his trainer Virgil Hunter to increase his work rate, because he’s going to know what he needs done for him to win the fight. That’s the great thing about Ward. He doesn’t need to be told what to do, because he can make adjustments on his own.

If Ward can get off to a quick start on Saturday night, it’s going to be bad news for Kovalev, because he tends to be the only one throwing punches early in his fights. His opponents are usually looking to survive early on, and focusing more on their boxing rather than looking to slug it out with him. If Ward is aggressive early, he’s going to need to take a certain amount of heavy shots from Kovalev. He’s not going to be able to fight at a fast pace early in the fight without taking some major shots from Kovalev. But Ward has shown that he has a great chin during his career, and I expect him to do the same thing on Saturday night.

“It is an interesting fight that I can’t wait to see. Look at both of their last fights; they didn’t really get off as well as they can,” said Lewis about Ward and Kovalev’s last fights.
Well, I do agree with Lewis about Ward and Kovalev not looking spectacular in their last fights. However, Ward still looked incredible with the masterful performance he put in against Alexander Brand compared to how Kovalev struggled against Chilemba.

It was a shutout victory for Ward. In contrast, Kovalev had problems with Chilemba’s jabs and pin point shots to the head. Chilemba’s shots bothered Kovalev a lot, making him hesitant to throw his punches. By the last four rounds of the fight, Kovalev was attacking Chilemba in a gingerly manner. It wasn’t the Kovalev we’d seen in his previous fights. He looked timid and unsure of himself.

It’s unclear if Kovalev has a rematch clause in his contract for the Ward fight. I believe Ward is the mandatory for him, so that would mean no rematch clause. It would still be interesting to see at least two fights between them if it turns out to be an exciting match on Saturday. a lot of boxing fans will want to see them do it again if it’s not boring or too one-sided.

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