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Ward and Kovalev renew rivalries

Frank Monkhouse | 17 June 2017

Fight fans in for a treat on Saturday

The most-anticipated rematch in years, certainly for lovers of the fight game, goes ahead at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, Las Vegas on Saturday evening as Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev renew rivalries.

Unbeaten Ward will duck between the ropes as betting favourite with Coral’s odds compilers, but there’s very little in it, meaning there’s plenty of value around on this one. The highlight of a cracking night of boxing, you can back your winner here.

Fight expected to go the distance

Andre Ward took a points decision win over Sergey Kovalev when the pair met in Sin City in November, but with a margin of just one point on all three scorecards, it was immediately obvious that this one needed sorting.

S.O.G goes into the clash with a perfect fight record of 31 wins from as many contests, 15 of those coming by way of KO. The 33-year-old hasn’t finished an opponent inside the distance since cutting down Englishman Paul Smith in nine rounds two years ago however, with his three contests since, against Sullivan Barrera, Alexander Brand and Kovalev all going the distance.

Ward has been chalked up on the board as a 4/6 jolly, but followers of the favourite may find more to get excited about in the method of victory market, with 10/11 the call on him again impressing the judges at ringside. Those stuck on the fence can include our 2/5 about this one going the distance in their accumulators.

Kovalev aiming to finish the job

Kovalev suffered his first defeat as a professional fighter last time out, and it’s not a feeling he’ll want to get used to. The 34-year-old Russian, now fighting out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida is amongst the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet at the minute, in the eyes of many followers of the noble art, and quick-fire revenge would come as a surprise to no one.

Despite losing on the cards after 12 rounds, he did have Ward on the canvas early in the fight, dumping him on the seat of his pants in round two, but couldn’t find a way to finish the job. If given another chance here, the puncher won’t let his man off so lightly. We’ve got Kovalev to win by KO/TKO at 7/2 – well worth a second look.

The underdog has, in fact, seen three of his last four wins come inside the distance, and brings an earth-shattering 81 per cent knockout ratio into Saturday. Kovalev to have his hand raised at the conclusion, regardless of how he wins, is sure to prove popular in the betting ring, 5/4 the offer.

More of the same from Ward

This is a meeting of two supremely talented boxers, and I’d be surprised if it was over quickly. Ward knows all too well the power coming from the opposite corner, and will aim to use his superior boxing skills to bank the early rounds. He showed first time out that Kovalev can be out-thought.

Making a prediction, I see this being similar to November’s clash, with Ward scraping a narrow, but slightly more convincing, points verdict. For me, S.O.G doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He’s one of the most technically gifted fighters on the planet, and we’ll see another example of that here.

Love boxing? There’s a massive weekend ahead. Get more betting tips here