The ESPN analyst/trainer/philanthropist Teddy Atlas weighed in on what he thinks will happen tomorrow night in Las Vegas, when Andre Ward defends his light heavyweight titles and seeks to offer a more convincing manner in defeating Russian terminator type Sergey Kovalev at Mandalay Bay, while Kovalev seeks to fight the whole of the affair like he did the first four rounds.
“As I look at this rematch between Kovalev and Ward the first thing I think of is timing, simply put, Ward’s was slightly off in their first match due to inactivity,” Atlas said.
“He was a mili-second late pulling the trigger, which I believe will be different this time. Punches that just missed will find the mark… Also on the side of Ward I believe he will be able to find his rhythm sooner in the fight and he will have a healthy amount of respect and awareness for Kovalev’s right hand. I see Ward feinting at the front door to get the right hand out of the way then either coming in the side entrance or just countering in front after he eludes the right. Also, Ward will recognize that although Kovalev’s right is the danger point, it is his jab that must set up its delivery.”
“So I think Ward will look to take Kovalev’ s jab out of play by dominating with his own. Perhaps a little slip of his head to either side with a sharp jab will do the trick, then once he owns the jabbing war he will have easy access to the inside, where he is just simply better suited to be effective then Kovalev is. As for Kovalev to win, the second time around he must do a better job of acting like the longer, taller guy and not just the more explosive guy. In other words, he must consistently control range and use both his jab and feet to do that. Ward comes in 4 inches, then Kovalev should be back 7 inches. Make him earn his way in, make Ward take chances and make him pay for every inch of real estate in that ring. If you are going to lose make him beat you on the outside, not in the trenches. And finally, when the moments are right, throw 3, even perhaps 4 punch combos instead of the 1 and 2 punch action you settled for in the first fight. Hey, do more when you can do more! In the end, I see a sharper and mentally more aware Ward winning a unanimous decision.”