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2017-06-05
TTR Expert Panel: Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev 2
Pictured: TTR #2 ranked Light Heavyweight Contender Sergey Kovalev


We're closing in on the much anticipated rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev. The first fight was highly competitive with Ward winning by a close, controversial decision. Fans and Press alike have been split on who deserved the win and, naturally, the rematch is expected to be highly competitive as well.

Here is an inside look as the13thround's panel of experts gives you their picks and predictions for the fight.

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Ken Pollitt (Main Page Editor/Rankings and Results Editor, The13thround; member, Record Keeper, Transnational Boxing Rankings Board; Editor, BoxRec; Super Champion, TTR Challenge #17; ten-time Super Champion, TTR Supplementary Challenge):

The Ward-Kovalev rematch could result in Ward winning another razor-thin (114-113 X 3) decision but I think Kovalev's power will prevail. Kovalev may score more than one knockdown resulting in a points verdict in his favor or he might hurt Ward badly enough that the referee will have no choice but to stop the contest.

Their first fight saw Kovalev jump out to an early lead by sweeping the first four rounds including winning the second round 10-8 by scoring the bout's only knockdown. Ward fought his way back by being the more accurate puncher. Most observers did not think Ward did enough to remain unbeaten but a minority, including the three judges and myself, felt he eked out the win. I don't think a fiercely determined Kovalev will allow him to do that on June 17.

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Derek Bonnett (Writer, SecondsOut.Com; member, Transnational Boxing Rankings Board; only TTR member to have won all three Challenges- Super Champion, TTR Superfights Challenge #6; Super Champion, TTR Challenge #18; and Super Champion, TTR Supplementary Challenge #17):

Let me start by saying I felt Kovalev won by two or three points the first time around. However, I do applaud Ward for making serious adjustments to do very well over the second half. Both guys have room to make improvements from the first fight. Even boxing one of his finest performances, Ward was outboxed and out punched early. I think Kovalev is one of few guys who can channel anger into positive energy to win the rematch. He has disdain for Ward and does not believe for a second he lost. Kovalev timed his right hand well to score a KD the first time. In training, he appears to be working his left hook high and low, doubling up. I have no doubt the right hand is a major part of his plan, but the Russian is expanding his arsenal to break Ward's high guard. I expect a very different fight with Ward again starting slowly to bank on another late round rally. His intention will be to start a little earlier with his body attack. This may surprise some, but I think Kovalev prepares for that inside attack with better conditioning and his left hook. Kovalev will hurt Ward early again with the right, but this time he will capitalize on the moment and keep the champion in trouble coupling it with his left hook. The rematch ends before Ward can execute his plan.

Kovalev TKO 4.

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Brad Benton (Writer, The13thround; Super Champion, TTR Challenges #13 and #21; Super Champion; TTR Supplementary Challenge #13)

I have the feeling it will be a true 50-50 type of fight, one where you won't really know who is going to have an upper hand until you have seen a few rounds. In the first fight I really thought Kovalev got off to a really good start and showed he has the power to hurt Ward and put him down. On the flip side, Ward was able to adjust and take it to a range where Kovalev's power wasn't as effective down the stretch, and made it a closer fight. Ward can't simply outbox Kovalev who has shown himself he is a very good boxer and quite intelligent in the ring. Ward had to make it a rough, dirty fight to get back into it the first time, and I have a feeling Kovalev and John David Jackson (Kovalev's trainer) will have been working on this quite a bit; how to prevent Ward from making it an ugly affair again like the last half of the first fight. Will this work? We will see....I may be alone regarding this but I see the act of Ward's Team trying to hire Jackson as a sign of desperation on their part.

I expect a close fight, but I feel Kovalev has more options and room to improve on the first fight leading him to a close decision win.

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Bobby Davis (Writer/Contributor, The13thround):

While I do agree that Ward was able to do well over the course of the 2nd half in the first bout, I don't believe he swept it and I still wound up having Kovalev winning 115-112. I believe an extra motivated Kovalev, having already faced Ward once before and had more time to prepare for his tactics will be an extra tough assignment for Ward this time out. The power Kovalev showed in being able to hurt Ward early last time around will be there again, and I believe Kovalev will be able to do a better job finding Ward. Now obviously Ward is a tremendous fighter and cannot be underestimated. In spite of the controversial outcome the last time around let's not forget Ward hasn't lost a fight Amateur or Professional since the age of 12, and he certainly won't be giving that up easily.

I expect another very competitive bout with Ward doing all he can to make it hard for Kovalev, but ultimately being beaten by a stronger, and better prepared Kovalev who is able to find the target more this time on an opponent he's more familiar with.

Kovalev KO 7

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Marco Pantoja (Super Champion, TTR Superfights Challenge #7; Super Champion, TTR Challenges #20, #22, and #23):

My opinion is that Ward figured him out in the 2nd half of the 1st fight. The body punching was key and to do that Ward will once again try and get inside. He must be very careful early as Kovalev showed he can hurt Andre. I don't buy the Kovalev theory that he over trained in the first fight. Although I had Kovalev winning the 1st fight very closely I feel once a fighter like Ward gets your timing it's just a matter of time before he starts breaking you down. Kovalev is tough and will be dangerous throughout the fight but Ward's ability to adapt and adjust would be the key to victory in another close contested battle.

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Antoine Patry DesLauriers (Founder, Owner, Operator, and Editor, The13thround)

I think in rematches you have to look at who can make the better adjustments. The first fight was a close one. In my opinion the thing that played the biggest factor is Kovalev dropping his pace and opening a door for Ward to gain some kind of momentum back. This is something relatively easy that Kovalev has been addressing in his camp... stamina. I expect Kovalev to come in better shape and be ready to maintain a pace that is required for a clear win.

Ward on the other side probably thinks he has figured out Kovalev enough to be able to win the rematch in clear fashion. I think he will be a little more careful early and gradually try to win a technical battle. Ward needs to fight in straights and use lots of footwork. Timing will also be key.

With Kovalev looking to maintain a higher pace, Ward should have more pressure and even less room for error in the rematch. I think a SD for Kovalev is highly probable. Will we have a rubber match? It's not like either has more lucrative options at the weight with Stevenson not willing to jump in the mix.

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So that's 5 picks for Kovalev, and 1 pick for Ward. 2 are picking Kovalev to win by KO, while everyone else is expecting another close decision. With Pound for Pound supremacy at stake we can expect the very best out of both fighters. We'll see what happens on June 17th!!!


 
Article By: Bobby Davis