The term “superfight” has become overused and is losing its punch, so to speak, being handed out like it’s a free $5 voucher for the Bellagio. But the bout between WBA, WBO, and IBF light-heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) and former unified champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (30-0-0, 15 KOs) is one fight that’s deserving of the label (9:00 PM ET, Saturday, November 19 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas).
Not only do both men come into this fight undefeated, but both are ranked in the top-five pound-for-pound and both are still in their primes. It promises to be a slug-fest between two of the best boxers in the world.
How does the champ stack up against the challenger?
Kovalev enters this fight as the unified world champion, the top-ranked light-heavyweight boxer in the world, and the second-ranked pound-for-pound boxer in the world. The 6’0″ Russian is known for his petrifying punching power – 86-percent of his wins have come via knockout – hence the nickname “Krusher.”
Not only does Kovalev possess ferocious right and left hooks, but his jab has even scored him multiple knockdowns. While he’s proven to have a strong chin by going toe-to-toe with his opponent and trading punches (see his fight with Jean Pascal), he’s so much more than just a brawler.
The “Krusher” has displayed excellent movement in the ring, and his feet may be just as quick as his hands, which is almost unfathomable. He has the nose of a shark and doesn’t hesitate to pounce when he smells blood in the water. But that doesn’t come at the expense of patience as he methodically work his way into striking distance in the early stages.
Basically, Kovalev is the complete package, which also explains his undefeated record.
Andre Ward spent most of his career in the super middleweight class. He’s now a legitimate threat in the light-heavyweight division. He enters the fight ranked as a top-five light-heavyweight according to BoxRec, The Ring, and Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. All three also have Ward ranked in the top-five pound-for-pound.
While Ward shares some similarities with his opponent, they differ in many ways, too. Ward’s punches don’t carry the same sting as Kovalev’s, but he gets the nod when it comes to punching speed. The “Son of God” has modelled his fighting style after greats Roy Jones Jr., Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Bernard Hopkins, which is easy to notice when you watch his feet. Ward’s quick footwork and deceptive body movement let him weave around strikes, answering with rapid counter-punches.
It is widely assumed that the winner of this match will be named the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, but who will that be, you ask?
One of Ward’s biggest strengths is his ability in the clinch, and with his biggest advantage in this fight being his quickness and movement, he will surely be looking to get in tight with Kovalev, hoping to wear down the champion. However, if Ward weaves the wrong way just once from the clinch, the result may be the bell. The challenger has proven to have a strong chin, thus far, but hasn’t taken a blow from anyone like Kovalev in his career.
If Kovalev is unable to end this match by knockout, I don’t like his chances of winning it by decision; Ward is too fast and too accurate; he’ll land more punches than he takes. Kovalev has to ensure that he makes his power punches count.
Despite the odds siding with Ward, I’ll roll with the champion to put the challenger on his back.
Pick: Sergey Kovalev.
Photo credit: Никто не забыт [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
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