Kovalev vs Ward, tonight’s big showdown at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, is known as ‘My Fight’. And that promo tag couldn’t be more fitting. Because this is a matchup all fans can call their own since it’s a matchup of titans they specifically asked for. These kinds of encounters happen in boxing, just not nearly enough. So there’s plenty of reason to get excited about this one, folks.
Why it’s the most anticipated fight of 2016 is written on the wall. Kovalev vs Ward is mightily significant for the Light Heavyweights and the sport of boxing itself, for the simple reason that these are division elites who also fair high in the Pound for Pound Rankings. Someone’s ‘0’ has got to go, and there are multiple world titles, important legacies and future Hall of Fame standings on the line, so, yeah, there’s major clout and appeal behind this thing. Kovalev and Ward are also the golden gooses of promoters Roc Nation (Ward’s) and Main Events (Kovalev’s). So the risks seem huge here. But so do the rewards.
Tale of the Tape
Record: 30-0-1, 26 KO – Born: Kopeysk, Russia – Age: 33 – Height / Reach: 6′ 0″ / 73″ – Stance: Orthodox – KO Ratio: 84% – Last 5: 5-0, 3 KO – Rounds Boxed: 114 – Latest Win: Isaac Chilemba (UD 12)
Best Wins: Isaac Chilemba (UD 12), Jean Pascal (RTD 7), Jean Pascal (TKO 8), Bernard Hopkins (UD 12), Nathan Cleverly (TKO 4)
Record: 30-0, 15 KO – Born: California, US – Age: 32 – Height / Reach: 6′ 0″ / 71″ – Stance: Orthodox – KO Ratio: 50% – Last 5: 5-0, 2 KO – Rounds Boxed: 218 – Latest Win: Alexander Brand (UD 12)
Best Wins: Carl Froch (UD 12), Arthur Abraham (UD 12), Sakio Bika (UD 12), Allan Green (UD 12), Mikkel Kessler (TD 11)
Kovalev vs Ward: Weigh-In
Check out HBO Boxing’s Weigh-In below which saw both fighters come in smack on the 175 pound limit at Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.
Stylistically, Kovalev vs Ward has the potential to blow fight fans’ hair back. Because this looks like one of those slick boxer vs puncher situations renowned for going down well with audiences. Ward, a master technician who toppled the world’s very best 168-pounders during the Super Six Tournament, represents a monumental challenge for a multi-belted champion here.
But Kovalev isn’t just a wham-bam-goodnight opponent. His ferocious power and stalking nature have helped produce some highlight reel finishes during his dominant reign, but his underrated smarts and patience should not be overlooked by anyone. Least of all Ward and his team. Kovalev is also the defending titlist here, looking to keep a tight hold of his WBA, WBO and IBF straps. Will he be leaving with them?
Well, it’s a 50-50 fight if you ask most keen observers right now. And Boxing Base is unashamedly on the fence with them for the most part too. Ward has the tools to beat Kovalev, no doubt. Ward’s strong both in-close and at range, is often a nightmare to nail clean, and has a reputation for being three moves ahead of his opponents. But it’s true he did most of his trail blazing at 168 pounds, not 175 where his only solid scalp came against Sullivan Barrera in March. So the big question: Is Ward adequately prepared for the strong, mean, fully-fledged Light Heavy he’ll find tonight?
Kovalev also has a great chance of taking care of business when the bell chimes. He has very sound fundamentals, knows how to lure opponents into traps, has savage TNT power, and often delivers chills thanks to his detached, calculating manner. This guy is considered one of boxing’s baddest men, certainly the beast of the Light Heavys, and rightly so. If we’re talking pure talent and skill, Kovalev’s toolset pales notably against a craftsman like Ward, but Kovalev’s firepower makes him a serious threat. One punch could change the fight, period.
As for the HBO PPV price tag, even forgetting the undercard (which isn’t actually too shabby), Kovalev vs Ward should be well worth the green all on its own. Let’s all just hope this potential barnburner turns into the spectacle we’re hoping it will be. On paper, the gold is there. If you’re based in the UK, Sky Sports 1 is your ticket tonight.
What say you, readers? We want your take on Kovalev vs Ward in the comments below. Who do you see capturing Light Heavyweight world supremacy tonight? And how will the action play out?