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Andre Ward says Canelo making MISTAKE bulking up for Kovalev fight

Image: Andre Ward says Canelo making MISTAKE bulking up for Kovalev fight

By Allan Fox: Andre ‘SOG’ Ward believes that Saul Canelo Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) may have made a mistake in training for his fight next Saturday night by bulking up to take on the naturally bigger 6’0″ WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev (34-3-1, 29 KOs).

Ward notes that the wide-bodied Canelo has ALREADY been gassing out in his own weight class at middleweight, and now he’s decided to bulk up to have extra size to compete in the 175-lb division against Kovalev. That could prove to be a mistake by the 5’8″ Canelo.

Next Saturday on November 2, Canelo will be facing Kovalev at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. DAZN will be showing the fight in the U.S.

Ward defeated Kovalev twice in CONTROVERSIAL fights

In 2016 and 2017, Ward defeated Kovalev twice in fights that ended in controversy. The Russian Kovalev appeared to win the first fight with Ward in November 2016, but found himself on the receiving end of a controversial 12 round unanimous decision loss in Las Vegas. In the rematch, Ward stopped Kovalev in the 8th round in June 2017 in Las Vegas.

Ward appeared to land 3 consecutive low blows that had Kovalev bent over holding his groin in the 8th. The referee Tony Week then stopped the fight. Unfortunately for Ward, he was never given full credit for the victory by a lot of boxing fans. It’s unfortunate but the referee’s decision not to call the shots low actually hurt Ward, because he might have knocked Kovalev out WITHOUT controversy. Shortly after that, Ward retired without facing Kovalev in a trilogy match to clear up the controversy surrounding their two fights.

Ward: Kovalev is no longer the same guy he once was

“He [Kovalev] hits solid, but it takes more than that,” said Ward to Fighthype when asked if Kovalev still hits hard. “I didn’t see the big right hand against [Anthony] Yarde. I watched the whole fight, and called the fight. And I didn’t see it. And saw a good jab, but I saw an aging fighter. I saw a fighter that no longer has the confidence he once had, and he’s no longer the ‘Krusher.’ That’s no knock on him. He’s Kovalev, Sergey Kovalev.

“There’s a difference. That guy is long gone, and he’s been long gone. So Canelo is fighting Sergey Kovalev. He’s still very formidable, and very solid and he’s still dangerous, but he’s not that guy anymore. The first six rounds are going to be very interesting. I think the best Canelo can do is get out of there 2 or 3 or 4 or 2. If he gets out of there with 2 rounds, and Kovalev has won 4 [in first six rounds], and then step it up in the last half of the fight. But Canelo is going to have to be in the lion’s den to get the work he wants to get in,” said Ward.

Kovalev did look powerful against Anthony Yarde in their fight last August. He hit Yarde with a lot huge of huge shots that would have hurt a lot of fighters. The reason why Kovalev didn’t look powerful was his conditioning. Kovalev faded early in that fight, and didn’t show his power again until late after he got his second wind.

It’s too late for Kovalev to become a body puncher says Ward

“I heard [trainer] Buddy McGirt say that Kovalev is going to hit to the body, but Kovalev has never hit to the body,” said Ward. “He’s not trained like that, and it’s not his foundation. So it’s late in the game to start teaching somebody to start hitting to the body. He may land some shots, but he may be in range to get hit. It’s too late for that.

“You may be able to teach him to do one or two things to stick him [Canelo] down there, but an all out body attack? You’re going to get hit, and get hit more. So, I’ve gone back and forth. I can see Canelo stopping him late, and I can see it being a close fight,” said Ward.

With Kovalev’s power, he can certainly become a body puncher if he chooses to. The problem with Kovalev going to Canelo’s body is he’ll need to take the counter shots from him. A guy with a good chin like IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) could get away with that against Canelo. Kovalev might not be able to take Canelo’s counter shots when he goes to the body.

Canelo was wise not to pick Beterbiev to challenge for a title, because that’s a fighter that would force him to take a lot of body shots. Ward didn’t fight Beterbiev either, and some boxing fans think he retired in order to avoid the Russian. So in that respect, Ward saying that Canelo is taking a “calculated risk” in facing Kovalev could apply also apply to himself. Ward chose to fight Kovalev instead of Beterbiev.

Canelo making a mistake in bulking up for Kovalev

“If I had to choose, I’m going to go with Canelo late, or by a decision,” said Ward in predicting a victory for Alvarez over Kovalev. “But here’s the thing about Canelo: I’m hearing a lot about Canelo bulking and building. That’s the wrong thing to do. He’s gassing at his regular weight. So, I made that mistake in my first fight with Kovalev.

“Putting on too much mass, and making the mistake of thinking I had to look the part instead of being myself. In the second fight, I went back to my roots, and said I’m going to look the way I look, and my weight is going to fall where it’s going to fall. And I was a lot faster and a lot stronger, and I got my spring back.

“I think Canelo is making a mistake. He looks real wide, and he’s already a thick dude and he’s looking real wide. I don’t think that’s a good idea. So if he comes in there looking like that, then he’s probably going to get hit more than he normally does. I’m giving you a lot of back and forth, but that’s how it’s playing out in my head. There’s a lot of things that can happen. One minute I can see Canelo late, and then the next minute I can see Canelo fading and Kovalev doing better than you thought he was going to do down the stretch,” said Ward.

It could prove correct what Ward says about Canelo making a mistake in bulking up for the Kovalev fight. However, it’s unclear whether Canelo has actually added any weight for this fight. Canelo looked to be the same size as always in his recent meeting with the media two weeks ago.

Kovalev is only as good as you let him says Ward

“Kovalev is the type of dude right now where he’s going to be as good as you allow him to be,” said Ward. “At his age with the amount of miles on his odometer, he’s going to be as good as you allow him to be. And if Canelo fades with this extra mass, plus he’s already fading at his normal weight, Kovalev may look a little bit better than he normally would down the stretch.

“I don’t really have a prediction, but if I had to, I’d say Canelo late or maybe a decision. But there’s a lot of things that can go different ways in the fight. Right,” said Ward when told that Canelo probably took the fight with Kovalev because he sees him diminishing. “Yeah, I didn’t really see it [Kovalev’s power] in his fight with Yarde, and Yarde fought a good fight. But I didn’t see anything that Yarde did to where I thought, ‘That’s why I didn’t see the power [from Kovalev].’ Kovalev had opportunities,” said Ward.

Kovalev will be as good as he can be. Ward’s comment about Kovalev only being as good as you let him doesn’t make sense. That comment applies any fight involving any fighter. The Canelo-Kovalev fight will come down to which of them is the better guy, and the fight could end by a knockout. But if Kovalev loses, it won’t be due to Canelo not letting him be as good as he can be. That’s nonsense. Conditioning could prove to be a factor in this fight for either fighter.

Ward: Kovalev looked OLD and feeble against Yarde

“Buddy McGirt was calling for it, and he didn’t really respond to what Buddy was telling him to do,” said Ward about Kovalev’s last fight against Yarde. “Buddy was telling him to box, but when have you ever seen Kovalev go away from a guy and look feeble like that. He just looked old. The problem with Kovalev is…he’s not going to acknowledge what happened and get better,” said Ward in talking about his opinion that Kovalev hasn’t learned from his 2 losses against him.

“He’s going to keep getting hit to the body. No,” said Ward when asked if Kovalev has gotten better since their fight. “He did a great job against [Eleider] Alvarez in out-boxing Alvarez. He was a punch or two away from getting knocked out.

“Am I exaggerating with that? Listen, he said, ‘If I got stopped in this fight, I would have retired.’ So that means he was a punch or two away from getting knocked out and retired. Kovalev would have retired, those are his words, if he had gotten stopped. Right there. I’m not going to say that he has one foot out the door, but that tells you how much he has left in the tank.

“He’s a punch or two away from retiring, and Yarde just happened to gas himself out. Kovalev wakes up, and he’s as good as you allow him to be. Then he woke up and got a new life. That’s a known fact. You got two tired fighters [Kovalev and Yarde], and then one fighter is less tired than the other, so you’ve got a new life. Kovalev got a new life. He’s less dead than me. So it’s a lack of conditioning,” said Ward.

Kovalev didn’t look feeble against Yarde. When he bouncing combinations off Yarde’s head, he looked dangerous.

Kovalev might have better conditioning in later rounds than Canelo

“It’s possible [that Kovalev could have better conditioning in later rounds than Canelo],” said Ward. “It’s a tricky fight to make a prediction on, and I can see it going a lot of ways. But if I had to pick, I’m leaning towards Canelo. I have zero faith in Kovalev. It’s a tough question,” said Ward when asked if Canelo will get credit if he beats Kovalev. “We have to be honest.

“Canelo is not fighting the Krusher. He’s fighting Sergey Kovalev. Let’s be honest about that. But he’s still jumping up two weight glasses, and he’s taking on a guy with something left in the tank. If Canelo gets reckless and gets caught, but I just don’t know if Canelo gets caught if Kovalev has what it takes to follow up. I just don’t see that guy, and I haven’t seen that guy for a long time,” said Ward.

Kovalev did fade late in the middle rounds against Yarde, but he came back strong in the 10th. Canelo faded in the second half of his two fights with Golovkin and in his last contest against Daniel Jacobs. It’s reasonable to assume Canelo will fade in the second half against Kovalev next Saturday. If it’s true that Canelo has packed on size for the Kovalev fight, then that could cause him to gas even before the second half. Kovalev’s combination punching could be a problem for Canelo, because he struggled against GGG when he threw combinations.

Canelo taking “Calculated risk” fighting Kovalev

So we give Canelo credit, but we have to say that it’s a risk, but a calculated risk,” said Ward. “That’s a fair statement. And that’s not marginalizing, and that’s not minimizing. That’s not taking anything away from him, but we’ve got to be honest about what’s happening. It’s a calculated risk. So if he can pull it off, it’s a great job, but it’s a great job in lieu of everything else Kovalev is bringing to the ring.

“A lot baggage, man. No,” said Ward when asked if he thinks the judges will be a factor in the Canelo-Kovalev fight. “Like I said, I can see Canelo late. Kovalev is getting up there in age, man. If it’s gotten to the point where if it’s that rough on him, it may not make sense for him to keep going,” said Ward.

Like a lot of boxing fans, Ward isn’t giving Canelo credit for him hand-picking 36-year-old Kovalev to try and win a world title at 175. It’s patently obvious that Canelo picked Kovalev because he’s there to be beat. Canelo could have selected IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev, but he wanted Kovalev. That’s obviously a calculated risk on Canelo’s part, and it’s hard to give him full respect for that reason.

Crawford picks Canelo by 6th round knockout over Kovalev

“I got Canelo by stoppage about six rounds,” said Terence Crawford to Fighthype. “Canelo got some underrated defense. He don’t get hit like a lot of people think he do, and I think he’s going to go the body real well. And I think he’s going to get the job done. We shall see,” said Crawford when asked if Canelo will need to eat some of Kovalev’s jabs as he’s coming forward.

Canelo hasn’t been shown to be a knockout puncher when facing good opposition. The guys that he’s knocked out in the past have been shot fighters like Amir Khan, Alfredo Angulo, James Kirland and Kermit Cintron.  Given Canelo’s poor stamina, and lack of knockouts since moving to 160, it’s doubtful that he’ll knockout Kovalev. If there’s going to be  stoppage, it’ll be Kovalev.

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