By Rajeev Lewis
This Saturday June 17, at the Mandalay Bay, Andre “Son of God” Ward will defend his WBA, IBF, and WBO Light-Heavyweight titles against former champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev. The HBO pay-per-view will be a rematch of their first meeting last November. The initial fight matched two undefeated top fighters, and the rematch promises to be another excellent display of boxing. Here are our Staff Picks:
John Cudney: Ward by 8–4-ish decision. It will look like the second half of the first fight. Ward will land cleanly, while Kovalev will show enough aggression to win a scattershot of rounds across the scorecards. The Kovalev KO punch won’t land on Ward. Ward now knows enough about Kovalev to stay away from the homerun shots while landing his own offense.
Rajeev Lewis: Ward by decision in a less close fight than before. He had to survive a rude awakening in their initial meeting but now he knows Kovalev’s power and angles well, and will be smoother in the ring. It is in a way remarkable that previously he went directly from fighting Alexander Brand to a monster like Kovalev; he won’t have such a rough transition this time.
Leo: I have to say Ward. I don’t think Kovalev has made the necessary adjustments to beat Ward’s grind.
Babajide Sotande-Peters: There is a slightly lazy consensus surrounding the fight (see above) which is that because Ward “figured” Kovalev out and won the second half of the first fight, he should boast to a clearer victory here. I don’t agree. It is clear that the two are evenly matched and can get the better of one another depending on the range they are engaging with each other in. With this in mind I expect a tense high level chess match with debatable rounds and scoring controversy. But I think owing to the uproar over the first fight and the underlying economic interest behind having a rubber match, Kovalev will have his hand raised after 12 hard fought rounds.
a c: Ward didn’t take the first fight seriously. He came out thinking Kovalev was just another puncher with no skill and nearly paid for it. This time he should start the fight in 5th gear and have a much easier time. Ward by decision.
Graeme Cross: Looking at the trend of Kovalev fading the last time from over-training and the time before from under-training… how many excuses do you need? Ward by points.
Gleb Kuzin: Kovalev by decision. Ward was pushed to the limit while Kovalev had a lot to improve. He lacked conditioning, the left food, the body attack, and the right gameplan. He only needs to be 30% than the first time to beat Ward decisively.
Final Tally: 5–2, advantage Ward.