Andre Ward (-135) vs Sergey Kovalev (+115)
Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) moved up to light heavyweight division this year in search of a challenge. Well, his request will finally be granted when he steps into the ring against Russian Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 19.
After just three fights over a four-year span (due to a legal battle with his former promoter), Ward made the leap in weight class and already has two wins in 2016. The former Olympic gold medalist won on a pair of unanimous decisions, one over Sullivan Barrera (117-109, 119-109, 117-108) in March, and another over Alexander Brand (all three judges 120-108) in August.
Kovalev has been a light heavyweight since day one and punches like it. The number two pound-for-pound fighter in the world has ended 84-percent of his fights inside the distance, but is coming off a unanimous decision win over Isaac Chilemba.
This fight is being billed as a classic battle of power vs technique. Despite his inactivity from 2012 to 2015, Ward remains perhaps the most polished fighter in the sport. In his last two fights, Ward was brilliant defensively; Brand and Barrera only connected on 16 and 15-percent of their punches, respectively. But even that percentage might be too high when taking shots from Krusher.
A brawler that wants to stay on top of Ward for 12 rounds, Kovalev has talked about his desire to knock Ward out, but oddsmakers are favoring this fight going the distance. A decision would favor the technically sound American, meaning if you’re taking the Russian, you may as well bet for the knockout (which is what I’m doing).
Ward hasn’t been very active in his first two fights in light heavyweight, settling for landing jabs and trying to avoid exposing himself. He still got marked up by Barrera, only adding to the concerns that he won’t survive 12 against Kovalev.
And though Ward has only been knocked down once in his career, the man to deliver that punch doesn’t believe the 32-year-old will pull this fight off. Darnell Boone fought both Kovalev and Ward tough in his career, and his analysis that Ward still isn’t ready for this fight is just another reason to hesitate about backing the American.
Overall, for a fight the boxing world seems to be split 50-50 on, I’m glad I can get a little value on the powerful Russian, especially when you call for the KO.
Pick: Kovalev (+115).
Photo Credit: TheDailySportsHerald (Originally uploaded to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/].