12 Jun Ward/Kovalev 2: The Case For Both Men – Compelling Uncertainty
Signed, sealed and delivered. The highly anticipated and historically necessary rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev is upon us. Experts are once again basically split as to the outcome, with a slight majority favoring Ward. Fans of both fighters are absolutely certain that their man is about to make mincemeat, or “easy work,” of the other. The fans shouldn’t be so sure of themselves. Much like their first encounter, Ward/Kovalev 2 is a hard fight to pick with absolute certainty. Either man could win, and a compelling case can be made for both. To further illustrate this “compelling uncertainty,” Intelligent Boxing has asked staff writer Mike Samuels, who is picking Ward to win, to make the case for a Kovalev victory, while staff writer Michael Atkins, who is picking Kovalev, has authored a firm argument for a Ward triumph. Ward/Kovalev 2 is that kind of showdown, and this is the case for both fighters.
Michael Atkins: Why Andre Ward Will Beat Sergey Kovalev
For Andre Ward, to fail on June 17th is to lose everything. Certainly, win or lose, Ward will be a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee. If, however, he loses, Hall of Fame or not, Ward will be forever remembered, primarily, for winning a very unpopular decision, then losing to the fearsome Russian. His career accomplishments–the Super Six, blowing out Chad Dawson–will still be a part of recorded history, but when his name comes up in the future, the Kovalev fights will be what he is remembered for, fair or not. Andre Ward knows this. He also knows, deep down, that most people felt Kovalev earned the nod in their first fight. This is one of several reasons, perhaps the most important one, why Ward will win. He is well aware that this prizefight is for all the marbles. Past, present and future, the perceptions of each all hang on the outcome of the Kovalev rematch. If he wins this fight more convincingly, their first bout will be remembered as a very close call. A loss will permanently cast it as a “gift.” Ward is a proud and sensitive man. You can bet that criticism of the scoring in their first encounter, questions regarding the legitimacy of his victory, do bother him, and he will be very determined to eliminate all doubt in the rematch.
Andre Ward will win because Sergey Kovalev will help him, and has helped him, to do it. Ward will enter the ring on June 17th, a little bit closer to his top form, in part because he has the first bout under his belt, and also because Kovalev knocked a lot of the ring rust off of him last November. In addition, Kovalev’s game plan will not exactly be a mystery–batter Ward into submission–, which is an advantage to a fighter as intelligent as Ward. “SOG” has gotten a good look at the “Krusher,” and it will be hard for Sergey to surprise him with anything the second time around. This will also allow Ward to roll out his game plan a little earlier than in their first meeting.
Andre Ward will beat Sergey Kovalev because he isn’t averse to winning ugly. Winning, itself, is a skill.”SOG” has been a winner for nearly his entire boxing career, and he isn’t, nor has he ever been, encumbered by the need to look good doing it. In the NFL, the New England Patriots epitomize this. They aren’t just good; they know how to win. There have been many talented fighters who couldn’t close the show , get over the top, win the big one. Ward isn’t one of them; he isn’t just good–he knows how to win. Andre Ward is an extremely intelligent, aware boxer who finds the path to victory in nearly every situation and exploits it. The fact that sometimes this may not be aesthetically appealing doesn’t concern him at all. His sole aim is winning, one way or another.
Andre Ward will emerge victorious in the most highly anticipated rematch in years, because the contest itself is likely to go the full distance to a decision. Ward will have the home-field advantage, much like last time. The fight will once again feature three American judges and be held in Las Vegas, where the judges tend to favor styles like Ward’s. If Ward/Kovalev 2 is close and goes to the scorecards, Andre Ward has the greater likelihood of getting the nod.
Andre Ward has a history of rising to the occasion, upping his game, when the stakes are highest. Expect him to do it again on June 17th.
Mike Samuels: Why Sergey Kovalev Will Beat Andre Ward (Again)
To be blunt, Kovalev defeated Andre Ward the first time around, regardless of how the judges at ringside tallied the fight. Andre Ward wasn’t completely dominated from start to finish, but he was clearly the lesser man for what should have been the first time in two decades inside the ring, looking back all the way back to “SOG’s” teenage years.
Andre Ward is a hell of a fighter. There’s no mistaking that. He has a lot more accomplishments to attain, but beating Sergey Kovalev on June 17th isn’t one of them. If it wasn’t evident by those blinded by his split-decision victory the first time around, it will be more than apparent after Kovalev starts swinging, and connecting, against Ward in the rematch on Saturday night.
Kovalev has gone on record believing that he over-trained leading up to the first fight. It may sound like an excuse, something boxers are notorious for, but when you take into consideration it was the biggest fight of his career, against the best fighter he’s ever faced, it’s not unimaginable to think the “Krusher” may have gone into camp trying to turn water into wine.
Fighters often talk about having the “blueprint” to beat an opponent. Kovalev doesn’t need a blueprint to beat Andre Ward. He’s entering the ring on Saturday with a chip the size of the former Soviet Union on his shoulder. This time, fans can expect him to be more calculated in his attack, without falling into a pace that will favor Ward, both from a fighting standpoint and judicial position.
One would believe that Kovalev must score a knockout over Ward to get the victory that was stolen from him the first time around. That’s not hard to believe when you consider that the fight is taking place in Vegas, and will be evaluated by three American judges, just as was the case previously. However, at the end of the day, boxing is a business. The sport is out to generate revenue, and there’s no better way to do this than to extract as much from Ward and Kovalev as possible.
If Kovalev can make Ward uncomfortable, score a knockdown, and keep the pace up long enough to be standing at the final bell, there’s a very good chance, that despite how wide the scorecards should be at the end of twelve rounds, the tables are turned in favor of the Russian born slugger, and he escapes Sin City with a close, and yet again controversial, victory.
And that’s just what he’s doing to do.
There’s no contractual obligation for either fighter to participate in a third fight. If the rematch is close, or controversial in any way, there could be significant interest in a third fight. Boxing loves trilogies, after all.
It may be quite the stretch to see these two fighters face off for a third time, regardless of how close or disputed the decision is. Andre Ward isn’t exactly a fan favorite, and he’s never cared about being one. He’s going to enter the ring Saturday and play it safe. He knows the judges will likely give him the benefit of close rounds, and deep down he understands that even though boxing is a business, there’s more money to be made with him facing bigger and better challenges not named Sergey Kovalev at a future date.
Kovalev doesn’t want to hear any more about Ward and his plans. Saturday night’s fight is beyond personal for the Russian bomber, and he’s smart enough to let the emotional letdown of the first fight fuel him in a way that Andre Ward couldn’t possible understand. There isn’t any amount of clinching or final second flurrying that will stop Sergey Kovalev from delivering on a promise he’s made himself, his country, and his fans.
He’s coming to beat Andre Ward on Saturday night.