Andre Ward Vs. Sergey Kovalev

When Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KO) and WBA, IBF and WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KO) take the ring on Saturday night in Las Vegas, there will be tons on the land. In addition to Kovalev’s three 175-pound titles, two undefeated records and the title of Pound-for-Pound champ will also be at stake. This is a boxing match of epic proportions.
Art: Brian Mazique, Getty
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Andre Ward Vs. Sergey Kovalev

Art: Brian Mazique, Getty

The two men have had their final face-offs and both have successfully weighed in. It’s time to find out who holds sway in the Sweet Science.

When: Saturday, November 19 at 9 p.m. ET

Where: T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas

TV: HBO PPV

Odds: (-155 Ward)

OAKLAND, CA – AUGUST 06: Andre Ward (left) fights against Alexander Brand in their WBO Intercontinental Light Heavyweight Title bout at ORACLE Arena on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

In the final tune-up fight before setting his sights solely on Kovalev, Ward faced veteran boxer Alexander Brand in August. It wasn’t a pretty fight, though Brand is a difficult opponent to look good against.

He’s very awkward and he was more concerned with surviving the 12 rounds than he was winning the fight. It could be said, Ward wasn’t as sharp as he or his camp might have expected, but it’s difficult to know what part of the performance was Ward’s rust or Brand’s awkwardness.

In any case, most would agree, Ward will need to be sharper if he hopes to defeat Kovalev on Saturday night.

Kovalev Decisions Chilemba

Sergey Kovalev celebrates after defeating Nadjib Mohammedi in their light heavyweight title boxing bout Saturday, July 25, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Likewise, Kovalev’s performance against the crafty Isaac Chilemba wasn’t among the best of his career. The Russian champion struggled against Chilemba’s length, jab and foot movement. These are all qualities Ward possesses.

That may explain why the Oakland native is favored to beat Kovalev by oddsmakers. Kovalev did defeat Chilemba, even dropping him in the seventh round. but it was a far cry from the destructive displays he’d put on in his previous 13 fights.

Were Kovalev’s issues with Chilemba precursor to the fight with Ward, or was The Krusher simply bored and awaiting a real challenge? We’ll find out soon enough.

Who Wins?

For Kovalev to win, he has to prove he can take away Ward’s angles. The challenger’s movement will be his greatest asset on Saturday, as he is an expert of evading punches while remaining in the pocket. Kovalev must establish the jab and eliminate the escape routes.

This will discourage Ward from throwing power counters.

Ward must force Kovalev to chase to open up that counter game. If Kovalev is too eager to score the KO, or he tires in the seventh or eighth round, he’ll be there for Ward to seize. Ward doesn’t stop many opponents, but something about the fight has me thinking TKO finish.

Great fighters rise to the occasion on the biggest stages. It doesn’t get any bigger than the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday, and Ward will be ready.

Prediction: Ward by 10th-Round TKO

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