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On Saturday night, HBO Boxing presents a rematch of one of the biggest fights of 2016, as Andre Ward (31-0; 15 KO) once again takes on Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1; 26 KO) The fight is for Ward’s WBA, WBO, and IBF Light Heavyweight (175 pound) titles. Ring Magazine not only has these two as the top 2 in the division – it has them as the top 2 in all of boxing. The fight will air live on PPV this Saturday, June 17 with a fight time of 9:00 p.m. ET. Ward vs. Kovalev II caps off a four fight PPV card that also includes top 10 pound for pound fighter Guillermo Rigondeaux.
How do these two stack up?
Ward: 33 years old | 6’0” | 71″ reach | orthodox stance
Kovalev: 34 years old | 6’0″ | 72″ reach | orthodox stance
What have these two done recently?
Ward: W – Sergy Kovalev (UD) | W – Alexander Brand (UD) | W – Sullivan Barrera (UD)
Kovalev: L – Andre Ward (UD) | W – Isaac Chilemba (UD) | W – Jean Pascal (RTD)
How did these two get here?
Andre Ward became the undeniable king of Super Middleweight back in 2012, then lost a few years to a legal battle, fighting only once between 2012 and 2015. In 2016, he came back full time as a Light Heavyweight and went 2-0 in warm up fights getting ready to take on the Russian destroyer Kovalev. Though he walked out of their first fight with a unanimous decision win (114-113 across the board), most felt that win was perhaps not a robbery, but certainly undeserved. Ward is one of the best technicians in the game, and also underrated as a more rough and tumble fighter when needed. It will be interesting to see what kind of strategy he brings in this time.
Sergey Kovalev has been on a path of destruction for years, but it was around 2013 when he started gaining real national recognition. He rolled through every opponent, including a career best win over Bernard Hopkins in 2014, before finally taking his first loss against Ward. Kovalev is a power puncher with a massive KO ratio, but against both Hopkins and Ward he reminded everyone that he’s not just a heavy punch – he beat Hopkins by outworking him over the course of 12 rounds, and as mentioned above, most would say the same about his work against Ward. This is his chance to show how he bounces back from adversity.
What can fans expect?
I was torn on the first fight and went back and forth there. This one, I feel a little bit more comfortable in my pick. Like most, I did score that first fight for Kovalev – he dropped Ward in the second round and landed more power shots throughout in my eyes. This time, I expect to see two differences: 1) a more aggressive Kovalev going for the KO that he thinks he needs in order to win; and 2) a more savvy Ward who will have learned from the first fight and made some adjustments. Close rematches tend to favor the smarter fighter and here, that’s Andre Ward. I don’t think this will be a total blow-out, but I also don’t think it will be a controversy.
Prediction: Andre Ward, UD