Does Kovalev Have Value in Rematch with Ward?

Andre Ward (-143) vs Sergey Kovalev (+125), Draw (+2000)

The highly-anticipated light heavyweight rematch between The Ring, WBA, IBF, and WBO champion Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) and former champ Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) is finally upon us. The top two pound-for-pound fighters in the world meet again this Saturday (June 17th) for a bitter grudge match.

Andre Ward narrowly won the first fight in a controversial decision victory. Kovalev won his rounds more convincingly and knocked Ward down early in the fight, but Ward came back in the later rounds to claw his way back on the scorecard.

The rematch clause was immediately activated by the Kovalev camp following the loss, and Kovalev now has a shot at redemption. Ward, on the other hand, has the chance to prove once and for all that he is the undisputed king of the light heavyweight division.

You can make a convincing argument for either fighter heading into the rematch. Ward is a more cerebral and technical fighter, and the first fight allowed him to study and analyze Kovalev. It’s no coincidence that Ward looked better as the fight went on. He’ll return to the ring with a better understanding of how to handle Kovalev and exploit his weaknesses. 

Kovalev claimed he overtrained for Ward for the first fight and was drained by the time of the bout. According to Team Krusher, he’ll be fresher and stronger for the rematch, and won’t fade down the stretch. Kovalev may have shown Ward a little too much respect in the earlier rounds of the first fight, but now he knows that Ward doesn’t have the power to pose a serious threat to him. He’ll be a lot more willing to open himself up for the chance to put Ward away in the opening rounds.

Both fighters can claim a psychological edge, as well. Ward can take comfort in knowing that the fight will be overlooked by three American judges, just like the first, despite Kovalev’s calls for at least one International judge. Kovalev can rest assured that Ward has little chance of winning by knockout, and also knows that he has the power to put the American on the mat.

If the fight goes the full 12 rounds, I can see the decision going to either fighter. But Kovalev has the ability to lay Ward flat at any time in the fight and especially in the opening rounds. I don’t think he’ll be as cautious this time, and that could be problematic for Ward.

Pick: Sergey Kovalev (+125)