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Kovalev tells Ward: “Get prepared,” then storms out of press conference

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev Ward vs. Kovalev 2

By Jeff Aranow: Former IBF/WBA/WBC light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev gave Andre Ward a stern warning before storming out of Thursday’s press conference ahead of their fight this Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kovalev looked angry like he wants to give Ward a thrashing on Saturday night.

(Photo Credit: Roc Nation Sports/Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos)

Ward, 33, didn’t see too bothered by Kovalev’s warning, but that’s how Ward is. He’s been beaten yet, so warnings don’t bother him. Ward came as close as a fighter can come to getting beaten in his previous fight against Kovalev, but the 3 judges gave it to him. The decision was very, very questionable. You can’t call it a gift decision, but you also can’t deny that Ward was fortunate that he had these 3 judges working. Another set of judges might have seen things differently.

“I already said enough, and I’ll prove it on June 17th in the ring,” said Kovalev at the final press conference on Thursday. “And you, get prepared,” said Kovalev pointing his finger at Ward before walking out of the press conference.

Kovalev looked really angry when he was speaking with Ward. That warning suggested that Kovalev wants to tear Ward apart on Saturday night. If Kovalev doesn’t run out of gas like he did the last time they fought, then Ward is going to have to come up with a good Plan-C for him to win. We already know what Plan-A and Plan B is for Ward. He’s either going to move around or fight on the inside.

If neither of those things are working, then Ward is going to need to come up with something different. Just what that would be is unclear. If Ward can’t beat Kovalev on the inside, then he’s really in trouble, because that was what saved him last time. Kovalev was the better fighter when there was distance between them. But when the action was in close, Ward was a little bit better than Kovalev. Ward wasn’t a lot better, but he was definitely fighting better in close.

“You aren’t going to do nothing,” said Ward responding to Kovalev’s warning. “Don’t point your finger at me, Bro,” said Ward.
I don’t think Kovaev is comfortable with the back and forth talking between them. Ward knows English, and Kovalev is pretty much at his mercy unless he has his interpreter there by his side to help him with English.

It’s difficult to know who will win the fight on Saturday night based on the things the two fighters have said to each other. Ward seems as he always is, but the mystique that he once had is gone. Kovalev burst it last time out in knocking Ward down in the 2nd round and getting the better of him through the first 6 rounds. Ward admitted that he got into a hole right away in getting knocked down in the 2nd round of the fight, but he says he made adjustments after that. Kovalev was still getting the better of Ward in rounds 3, 4, 5 and 6. The adjustments that Ward speaks of where ineffective until Kovalev started to fade a little bit in the second half of the match.

The last six rounds were even rounds. Ward didn’t dominate and neither did Kovalev. It was basically a tie. The judges gave Ward every round in the second, but their scoring didn’t match the actual was taking place. The judges’ scoring seemed to match the cheering for Ward from the pro-Ward crowd, but not the fight that was taking place inside the ring. Did the judges get their cues from the crowd in whom to give rounds to? It’s unknown.

” I’m going to make adjustments,” said Ward. ”I’m not going to be distracted by the talk. I’m not going to be distracted by the ploys. You are going to see a different Andre Ward. I’m going to leave it at that. You’re going to see another guy inside there on Saturday night. That’s my favorite time, the show and tell time. All the talking is good for the fans. It’s good to build it up. But anybody knows me knows I’m about action. I’m about getting it done. I just like to show up and get it done,” said Ward.

There’s not much that Ward can do differently in the rematch with Kovalev on Saturday night that he didn’t already show in the first fight. Ward can move more or fight on the inside a little more. I think that’s about it as far as Andre Ward showing a different side of his game. Ward isn’t going to beat Kovalev with his jabs or pot shots from the outside. Kovalev is too good at replaying with his own jab and right hands.

I don’t think Ward wants or needs that kind of a fight. I don’t know that Ward can win this fight against Kovalev by staying on the outside. The Russian fighter is too rangy, power and skilled for Ward to stand on the outside and beat him with jabs and pot shots. That would be a mistake for Ward if he fought like that. He would need to make adjustments too quickly if he decided to keep the action on the outside for 12 rounds.

“All I got to do is be myself, and that’s going to be enough,” said Ward. “The question is how are you going to respond and we responded like we’re supposed to do. I just need to do what I did the first time, and turn it up. I want to have a better start and I’m going to have a better start. That’s what really got me in the hole. I’m going to come harder,” said Ward.

If Ward is going to try and fight Kovalev, it could be a fight that ends in a knockout either way. Ward isn’t going to knock Kovalev out if he fights like he did the last time, because he spent too much time fighting on the inside. Ward is not a big puncher on the inside. Ward’s trainer Virgil Hunter sees him as a powerful body puncher, but he’s not going to knock Kovalev out with a body shot. Ward is going to need to knock him out with

I’m ready. I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do, and all the boxes are checked. I’m ready to go to work, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to have fun with what I do and put on a show in the process,” said Ward.

We need a clear decision between these fighters on Saturday. If Ward can turn it up like he says he can, then that’s good news for the fans, because Ward will win the second fight and can move on. There will be no reason for them to fight a third time other than for a money grab. Ward winning the second fight should be enough of an indication that he’s the better fighter for him to move on. That means Ward needs to show that he can beat other top fighters like Adonis Stevenson, Artur Beterbiev, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Joe Smith Jr. and Eleider Alvarez. Ward facing any of those guys would be a good lateral move from Kovalev. But if Ward goes back to fight the likes of Alexander Brandon, Paul Smith, Chad Dawson and Sullivan Barrera, then you’ve got to figure that he doesn’t feel like he’s up to the task of beating those guys.

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