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Kovalev v Ward: Boxing’s biggest battle for pound-for-pound supremacy

Lee Gormley | 20 November 2016

Kovalev v Ward tips on battle for supremacy

In the current climate, boxing fans are regularly facing the disappointment of many desired blockbuster fights being scuppered by financial or contractual issues. But on November 19, the showdown between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev is set to finally see two of the sport’s best collide at the peak of their powers.

Who are you backing from our Kovalev v Ward tips? The pair collide on November 19th in Nevada.

Who are you backing from our Kovalev v Ward tips? The pair collide on November 19th in Nevada.

With the proposed middleweight mega-bout between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin continuously being overlooked for a much later date, this light-heavyweight showdown can fill the void as arguably the biggest match-up since Floyd Mayweather finally took on Manny Pacquiao last year.

Both current unified 175lbs champion Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) and former super-middleweight kingpin Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) were admirably eager to secure their monumental meeting, with the pair preparing to collide at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

In what is set to be a fascinating clash of styles in Nevada, it’s American Ward who will enter as the odds-on 4/6 favourite with Coral for victory and subsequent pound-for-pound supremacy. While dominant Russian Kovalev is seen at 6/5 to prevail in this meeting between undefeated elite fighters.

High stakes on the line in awaited clash

The stakes couldn’t be higher for both men, with a chance of becoming globally recognised as the sport’s leading light up for grabs, as well as the eventual victor confirming their status as the division king.

Ward prepared for his Kovalev showdown with a comfortable points win over Brand.

Ward prepared for his Kovalev showdown with a comfortable points win over Brand.

Not to mention the sickening disappointment awaiting the fighter who comes up short when they ultimately face their maiden loss, with Kovalev and Ward both undefeated in their respective illustrious careers to date.

In fact, Ward, who is 6/5 to earn a trademark points decision success, has not tasted defeat since he was 13 years of age, having risen through the professional ranks to become an untouchable force following an esteemed amateur background.

The now 32-year-old was the last American boxer to win an Olympic Gold medal at the 2004 Athens Games, and he has never looked back since, emulating his amateur success as a pro when reigning as the unified 168lbs emperor.

Ward seeking place in history with win

Ward’s path to glory was littered with many of the sport’s big names, but he managed to impressively deal with anyone who stood in his way, including former champions Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and Britain’s Carl Froch.

Moving up in weight had no impact on his prowess either, as he comfortably overcame hard-hitting Cuban Sullivan Barrera and Colombian Alexander Brand in the build-up to his imminent bout against Kovalev, who Ward is eager to topple to cement his own legacy.

Ward's defensive prowess and impressive ring movement could see him overcome Kovalev in their high-profile meeting.

Ward’s defensive prowess and impressive ring movement could see him overcome Kovalev in their high-profile meeting.

“There are times and places for tune-ups and stay-busy fights. I don’t necessarily think fighters should fight killers every time but, at some point in time, fighters should be fighting the best in their division, period,” said the Californian.

“It has always been like that and it should always be like that. That is what keeps our sport alive and well.

“My legacy is really important to me. I feel this [fight] is the best way to secure my position in boxing history and hopefully the Hall of Fame one day – to fight the best and beat the best.”

“How is he going to deal with me?”

Ward’s slick defensive and countering skills have made him a master of the sweet science, being able to completely dismantle opponents by nullifying their strong suits and capitalising, whether on the inside or from distance.

The unbeaten American has come face-to-face with huge punchers before but Kovalev is seemingly a different animal, boasting an 84 per cent knockout rate from his victories. Though, when asked how he would deal with the Russian’s formidable power, Ward was confidently dismissive.

The power Kovalev possesses is a big threat to Ward.

The power Kovalev possesses is a big threat to Ward.

“How is he going to deal with me? It is a two-way street here,” he said. “We respect what he brings to the table, but he is going to have to be everything that he says that he is, because I am going to be ready and I am going to be prepared.

“I am not enamoured with him. Once a fighter becomes enamoured with another, to the point where they can’t perform and compete, you have got problems.”

Ward’s power was questioned when being unable to stop a durable Brand in August, with his last KO victory coming against Paul Smith in 2015, but he is 9/2 to halt Kovalev in their highly-awaited contest.

Kovalev much more than just power

When the super-fight was eventually agreed, it was instantly regarded as a battle of Kovalev’s power against Ward’s defensive movement, but the defending WBA, IBF and WBO light-heavyweight champion possesses a lot more in his armoury than just a devastating shot.

The Russian champion will aim to successfully defend his light-heavyweight crowns.

The Russian champion will aim to successfully defend his light-heavyweight crowns.

The 33-year-old can easily halt a fight with either hand, but his ability to cut off the ring and stalk his prey as such could play a part against Ward. He also shares a great jab with Ward and is adept at piling immense pressure on those in front of him.

Kovalev will also be boosted by the fact he is the naturally bigger man, but Ward has proved in the past that simply doesn’t matter when you have such proven defensive capabilities. The challenger recently added fuel to the fire by claiming he has actually rarely watched his upcoming foe in action, but ‘Krusher’ refused to be drawn into mind games.

“I don’t think at all what Ward is doing, I don’t think,” stated Kovalev, who is 9/4 to hand Ward his first ever defeat by KO. “I’m thinking only about me, what I’m going to do. I don’t care about what Andre Ward thinks.

“I don’t care what he’s watching…

“You can ask him about what he thinks that he watches only one of my fights. He can say that he saw only one fight, but he can watch all my fights.

Does pound-for-pound supremacy await Kovalev or Ward on November 19th?

Does pound-for-pound supremacy await Kovalev or Ward on November 19th?

“I don’t know what he’s watching or I don’t care what he’s watching. My goal is to get victory and not to think about what Andre Ward is watching or not watching, what he’s doing. I’m just working now on my body, on my shape.”

In what is set to be the most significant bout of 2016, there is much riding on victory for both undefeated masters of their craft Kovalev and Ward, as light-heavyweight supremacy and pound-for-pound distinction awaits the winner of boxing’s latest super-fight on November 19.

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