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Kovalev says Andre Ward is a “paper champion”

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

By Allan Fox: Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) has confirmed that he’s still with his trainer John David Jackson, and his focus is on kicking Andre “SOG” Ward’s backside in their rematch on June 17 on HBO PPV at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kovalev say Ward isn’t a real champion. He’s a “fake champion” or “paper champion,” which means he’s a champion in name only but a legitimate one.

Kovalev feels this way because he thinks that he should have been given the win over Ward in their last fight in November. The judges saw it differently, giving Ward a narrow 12 round decision.

“Let’s do the rematch and then speak [against Stevenson fight],” said Kovalev. “Right now, I have the focus on this fight. I kick his [expletive] and get the belts back, and go home and have a rest. It’s 50-50 fight now, because right now he knows my style,” said Kovalev about Ward. “Right now, he believes in himself, because right now he’s like a champion with one word – paper champion. He’s right now more confident with himself. I was tired and I won the fight against Ward. What’s going to happen if I don’t tire,” said Kovalev.

Kovalev, 34, says he faded in his last fight with Ward in round 5 because he’d over-trained for the fight. Kovalev has since removed one of his trainers from his team, and he feels that he won’t have the same stamina issues in the rematch with Ward. We’ll see about that. Kovalev looked a lot better in his fight before the Ward match against Isaac Chilemba last July in Russia. The difference between the Kovalev-Chilemba and Kovalev-Ward fights was the grappling that Ward did.

The inside grappling that Ward employed as a survival mechanism from rounds 3-12 tired Kovalev off. He found out the hard way that wrestling causes fighters to lose their power and stamina. It was less of an issue for Ward though, because his bread and butter is light punches that he throws. Ward focuses on landing lighter shots that enable him to win rounds. He doesn’t try and load up.

So, Kovalev was never going to come out ahead in a battle with Ward on the inside, because it was meant to tie him up, tire him out, and prevent him from getting his power shots off. Kovalev will be dealing with the same thing from Ward in the rematch between them on June 17. The only thing that will be different from the first fight between them is Ward will start grappling immediately in the 1st round rather than waiting until round 3 like he did last November.

He’s not the strongest,” said Kovalev in commenting on whether Ward is the best opponent he’s faced during his career. “Before I fought Ward, I fought a much harder fight in first fight against Jean Pascal. In my pro career, my hardest fight was against Darnell Boone. I don’t even remember the 7th and 8th rounds. My memory was turned off,” said Kovalev.

Kovalev had a hard time beating journeyman Darnell Boone in their first fight seven years ago in October 2010. Kovalev won the fight by a narrow 8 round unanimous decision by the scores 76-75, 76-75 for Kovalev and 76-75 for Boone. Kovalev was hurt by Boone in that fight. Boone is a big puncher with past wins over Adonis Stevenson and Willie Monroe Jr. When Kovalev fought Boone in his first fight, Boone was in the prime of his career at age 30. Boone has slipped a notch since then, and he’s now more of an easy mark for fighters. Boone is definitely a bigger puncher than Ward.

The same can be said for Jean Pascal. Kovalev took some big shots from Pascal in their first fight in 2015. That was not an easy fight for Koavalev despite him stopping Pascal in the 8th. If Pascal had done what Ward did in taking the fight to the inside and wrestling Kovalev instead of fighting him, Pascal would have been even more difficult.

The thing that made Ward effective against Kovalev was him tying him up round after round, and smothering him. Ward made it very hard for Kovalev to get his shots off. It didn’t help that the referee wasn’t breaking the fighters apart. A good referee would have been separating them so that the boxing fans could see some action instead of 3 minutes of mauling each round. It’s unclear why the referee chose not to pull the fighters apart so that actual fighting could take place.

“I deleted all my mistakes,” said Kovalev in speaking to about the mistakes he made in his last 2 fights against Andre Ward and Isaac Chilemba. “In my last 2 fights, I was tiring for Chilemba and Ward. I fought similar. People can say what they want. But right now, we’re still working together and it means it’s bull [expletive] what people say, and we’ll kick his [expletive] in the rematch on June 17th,” said Kovalev. “I want to kick his [expletive] and destroy him; destroy this guy as a boxer and as a champion. For me, he’s not a champion. He’s a fake champion. He’s living right now with his status. He’s a fake champion. He believes in his victory. Now he’s trying to get people to believe in his victory,” said Kovalev.

It’s good news that Kovalev has finally addressed the reports about his trainer Jackson having spoken to Ward’s team about him switching sides to his team. Jackson already said that he was contacted by Ward’s team about them wanting him to trainer Ward. Kovalev has now nipped it in the bud by saying Jackson is still with him and will be training him for the Ward fight. You can call this gamesmanship on Ward’s team’s part. I don’t think it’s going to bother Kovalev enough for him to lose sleep over.

Kovalev isn’t going to get out there inside the ring on June 17 and wonder whether he should try and take Ward’s head off or not. The trainer stuff might play well with some hardcore boxing fans that focus on small insider type stuff, but it’s not going to work with Kovalev to throw him off. It’s also not particularly interesting for the casual boxing fans, who are interested in the actual fighter rather than about trainers and such. It’s a waste of time. If Ward isn’t good enough to bat Kovalev in the rematch, then there’s nothing he can do.

It won’t be Kovalev’s trainer that will be hitting him on June 17. It’s going to be Kovalev. Ward is going to need to come up with a good Plan-B for the Kovalev rematch because I don’t think wrestling is going to work this time. If Plan-A, B, C, D and E is little more than different variations of Ward holding and mauling, then I don’t think he’s going to win the fight. This is boxing, and all Ward has in the cupboard is how to grapple with Kovalev instead of fighting him, then I don’t see him winning. Ward has got to have more to his game than just him spoiling for 12 rounds by trying to nullify Kovalev’s offense. You’ve got to have more than that if you want to win without controversy.

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

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