This past November the two best light heavyweights in the world squared off in the fighting capital of the world. The fight was advertised as a true “50-50” fight and that there was no clear favorite. The fight played out just like its tagline as the decision came down to one decisive point on all three of the judge’s score cards. The final result of one of 2016’s best fights was Andre Ward winning via unanimous decision. All three judges scored the contest 114-113 in favor of the Oakland native, to the surprise of many, even the victor based on his reaction to the announcement.
The final result spurred discussions throughout the boxing world. Just as the fight was promoted as being a true 50-50 fight, the final decision seems to be 50-50 in terms of half of the boxing world believes Ward won, while the other half believes Kovalev did enough to retain his titles.
One thing was for sure after the first bout, a rematch was needed. Partly because Kovalev deserves a shot at redemption because he was so close to beating the undefeated Ward. Bust mostly because fans still are not sure who the better fighter is.
Boxing fans will get their wish seven months later as the two are set to square off in a rematch on HBO pay per view this Saturday night in Las Vegas. It is rare in today’s boxing world that there are two fighters who both have strong cases for being in the top five pound for pound list who are in the same division and are willing to fight each other. It is even rarer that they are willing to fight each other twice in a single year.
Kovalev vows that this fight he will be more aggressive and also will keep his power and speed throughout the full 12 rounds. In the first fight it was clear that he slowed down a lot after five rounds, allowing Ward to come back and ultimately win the fight. Kovalev believes that a different approach to training for the rematch is his key to walking away the victor this time around.
“For this fight, I definitely had to get in shape, have different emotions and different motivations,” Kovalev said. “I don’t just want to get my belts back and thank boxing fans for the support. I want to thank my hater. They motivate me to keep going. I want to get my belts and I’m here for this.”
Kovalev also says that in the first fight Ward faced Sergey Kovalev but in this fight he will be fighting the Krusher.
Yeah, my fists will say it. I’ve already said enough. I want to say to Team Ward they’ve said a lot of trash to my side, my team. He will pay for everything; I promise you. I appreciate him giving me the opportunity to get my belts back and on (Saturday) it’s going to be a different fight.”
Andre Ward understands that he dug himself a hole in the first fight. He says that will not be the case this time around.
“Tactically, I obviously want to have a better start and I’m going to have a better start,” Ward said. “That’s really what got me in my hole, the start. I’m sure he’s made some adjustments and he’s going to come harder, but I’m ready. I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do. When you prepare the way you’re supposed to and all the boxes are checked, it’s time to go to work. And I’m going to go to work, having fun and enjoying what I do, and put on a show in the process.”
Both fighters have made it clear in the build up of their rematch that they are not fond of one another. Kovalev walked out of their press conference once he was finished answering questions, leaving Ward and his team alone on the stage. Kovalev is not interested in making any new fans in America, and that was proven in Friday’s weigh-in which saw the Russian greeted with loud boos as he stepped on the scale. It will certainly be a pro-Andre Ward crowd in Vegas on Saturday.
Boxing fans hope that the Krusher versus the Son of God produces another classic fight between two of the best boxers of their generation.
Featured Image via Reuters