We’ve seen and heard much animus in the leadup to the sequel showdon between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev, two of the three best light heavyweights on this planet. It leads us to wonder..could that animosity result in a better fight tomorrow night?
Because, friends, let us face it, that first fight wasn’t a fan friendly barn burner full of action galore and swings in tension and momentum. Yes, you had Ward knocked down early, and that was a novel situation. But you also had average punch volume and an above average amount of clutchery and grabbing. It was not a crap fight, it sure had it’s moments, and there was drama, because it was so evenly contested—but the actual fight wasn’t one for the ages.
Will this one be?
One reason it could be different and better is this: if Sergey Kovalev transfers the emotions he’s been feeling since he heard the other guys’ name called as the winner last November, and uses those emotions as fuel. You saw that he looked legit pissed at the final presser yesterday and that he stalked from the room, left the building, blew off the ceremonial staredown. He was feeling emotions. Among them, anger. Possibly frustration and some mental duress, as well, but we can’t be sure. His people said he is like the caged tiger, who wants to be let out of the cage to perform an act of structured violence. But suppose he is angry, and on Saturday, he fights angry. Not stupid and savage but savage and smart, letting the punches fly with a righteous fury, instead of a controlled and patient manner.
Sergio Mora, the ex 154 champ, was on TALKBOX this week, and told us that he thinks both guys are legit pissed. They ain’t playin. “I watched live, I had really good seats..and I thought Ward brought more at the end,” he said, noting “Ward stole the show” because he did better, later. And later is what people most remember.
Snake gave the fight to Ward by two rounds live, then on TV he saw a two round edge, then upon another screening, Ward 7-5.
Mora digressed and noted he hears from Joe Blow that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—“You’re a fuckin’ idiot,” they rail—but he told us what we know, that he has an advanced degree in this discipline.
“I think the intensity, the anger, the passion, is definitely fueling this next fight,” the 36 year old Cali resident stated to the Everlast TALKBOX downloaders. “Kovalev naturally is the bad guy, he doesn’t hide it, he tells you he wants to hurt people, he tells you he has a big Russian chip on his shoulder he wants to get off,” Mora said. And he said Ward is the God guy, wants to do the right thing, but has a nasty street side. “That’s why he isnt as popular, he doesn’t do all the shenanigans,” Mora continued. “Fuck them,” Mora railed, of folks who frown on Ward for not playing the shit-talking game in the manner they desire.
We digressed quickly into a discussion of why Ward isn’t more popular, talking about sanctimonious and self righteousness and then veered into the ridiculous. What if Kovalev marched to the ring with Vladimir Putin on Saturday, and Mora chuckled. I reached out to him Friday and asked for a point blank prediction, then.
“IF it were any other fighter other than Kovalev being this upset and emotional before fight, I would say advantage Ward,” Mora said. “But Kovalev is mean, not emotional. I think this time Kovalev wins UD.” So, no biggie that he bolted the presser? “Nah. All that talking in English having to repeat same old answers is getting to him. He’s ready.”
Listeners got more insight into the Ward-Kovalev sequel from Main Events maven Kathy Duva. She told us that Serget Kovalev, her guy, reminds her on a dauly basis of Main Events guy Evander Holyfield. “That incredible belief in themself that is unshakeable no matter what obstacles they run into. This leadup so reminds me of the leadup to Bowe-Holyfield,” she related. “Holyfield is going to beat Bowe,” Duva was telling people, before the 1993 sequel between Bowe and Evander, who was commander in the rematch, winning a UD12. Holyfield knew what adjustment he had to make and had a not to be denied POV. To reiterate..Duva thinks Sergey is Evander and Ward is Bowe heading into tomorrow, before their second of three matches.
We also touched on a fight that I wondered if we can draw a parallel from. The Marvin Hagler v Thomas Hearns tango, 1985..Pat Putnam of SI thought it would go the distance…both fighters said it wouldn’t go past three. Duva chuckled, and said she hopes she got Hagler in this one, and we see a similar sort of shootout. Ward isn’t prone to such offensive fury, so we both doubt he plays either Hearns or Hagler tomorrow. Duva thinks Kovalev could well press like Hagler did in the 1985 abbreviated classic. Duva swears that he gassed early in the first fight, and will go 12 rounds the way he did the first four last time. Time tells…
The promoter recalls that three weeks before the first fight, she saw Sergey and “he looked awful.” Overtraining, she said. He was drawn and beat three weeks before. Not so this time. “This time he learned from that,” Duva said. This time, he lowered his pride level, she said, and listened to an expert, a conditioning coach who works with biathletes.
Most probably, this fight looks a lot like the first one. Kovalev says the Krusher will be present this time. Ward says a new and different Ward shows up in Vegas. They are what they are, though, and I will mostly bewatching to see if Kovalev has the same snap he did early and if yes, can he maintain it. I think Ward the defensive master, a supremely talented nullifier of offense, unless his reflexes have further dimmed.
What say you, friends?