Kovalev vs Ward: The Fight City Picks

It may not be the most electrifying match-up as far as the general public is concerned, but Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward is in fact one of the very best matches the sport can offer today and it has boxing fans seriously excited. Saturday night will see a showdown between two of the very best pugilists in the world, both champions, both undefeated. It’s a huge, high-stakes challenge and the biggest fight thus far in both men’s careers. The winner will be widely regarded as perhaps the very best fighter in all of boxing and even bigger matches and bigger paydays will inevitably follow, while it will be back to the proverbial drawing board for the loser. Without further ado, our picks for what could be 2016’s Fight Of The Year. Check ’em out:


I’ve gone back and forth on this, and although Ward is crafty and tricky, and although Kovalev had trouble with Chilemba, I see this going the distance with Kovalev winning all of the later rounds. Early on it’s gonna be tight and Ward is going to be effective defensively and using his jab, but at some point Kovalev is going to nail him. And from then on Ward is going to be in a defensive shell and Sergey will be in charge. Kovalev by decision.   — Manny Montreal

I’ve never felt more stupid about a pick than I did after Kovalev dismantled Bernard Hopkins in 2014. I chose Hopkins to win, thinking his combination of wits, experience and relative physical vigour would be enough to suffocate the Russian. Kovalev proved himself to be a shrewd and patient ring tactician in that fight, far more so than I believed. Still, I have difficulty seeing him boxing that successfully against Ward, who will close the distance and make it a grueling, physical scrap. In this scenario, Kovalev’s greatest strength will be nullified and Andre can make use of his superior infighting and prove himself the meaner man. Ward by decision.           — Eliott McCormick 

Ward dominates Dawson back in 2012.

Mentally, Ward is still razor sharp. But considering age, inactivity and now the step up in weight, I don’t think he is physically the same fighter he was back at the time of the Super Six tournament. And I suspect a less mobile and more hittable Andre Ward will experience many of the same problems Bernard Hopkins did against Kovalev. Ward will do better than Hopkins, but I don’t think he will have an answer for the champion’s long jab to the body, or the feints and threat of the right hand which will keep him honest and from seizing the initiative. Consequently, I think Ward may struggle to find the right range, the eye of the storm so to speak, where his faster hands and shorter punches will have more impact, and where Kovalev’s straighter, more powerful blows will be nullified. The fight will probably go the distance, but I don’t think Ward will be busy enough from the outside, or effective enough on the inside, to win more rounds than “Krusher” and swing the judges’ verdict his way.          — Lee Wylie 

This, my friends, is a question of power – or rather, the ability to withstand power. Make no mistake about it, the odds of Sergey Kovalev landing clean on Andre Ward on at least one occasion when they meet this Saturday night are great. The question is: how will Ward withstand Kovalev’s power? The truth is, I simply don’t know. What I do know, however, is that things will look very good for Ward should those thunderous shots of Kovalev’s not break him down. This one’s a true pick ‘em fight. With that in mind then, I’m going to be charitable and give Ward the benefit of the doubt. Why? Because he’s never given me a reason not to. Therefore, at very great risk of eating my words, I’m going with Ward by split or majority decision.        —Sean Crose

Kovalev corners Pascal.

This match-up is more than just a classic boxer-puncher scenario. Ward can no doubt fight inside, and Kovalev has skills to box from range. However, I see Ward as the more versatile of the two and being able to stay in control wherever the fight takes place. He may absorb the hardest punches of his career but I see him standing up to those shots and soldiering on. Ward by comfortable decision.       — Jamie Rebner

Much of the conventional wisdom says Sergey Kovalev, the larger fighter and heavier puncher, will bully Andre Ward about the ring. A few other things like Ward’s inactivity and Kovalev’s better preparation and opposition tend to support that idea. But for some reason I’m having a difficult time envisioning Ward being denied. While he is the smaller fighter and hasn’t been very consistent in the last few years, he is more skilled and more likely to adjust and find a way to win if needed. It would make a little more sense for Kovalev to score a late stoppage or something along those lines, but Ward will figure something out and score a career-defining victory by decision.         — Patrick Connor

The smart choice is to put your money on Andre Ward. He is the better technician and he hasn’t lost a fight since he was 13 years old. We’ve seen him go up against bigger and stronger men in the past with the same results: Ward takes away his opponents’ best weapons and systematically dismantles them. But Sergey Kovalev is a different kind of beast. Besides the ridiculous punching power, he has underrated boxing skills. That said, I can see Ward frustrating Kovalev, but I can also see Kovalev making adjustments and taking advantage of his opportunities. It’s a tough pick to make, but I see Kovalev getting a late round stoppage in a fantastic fight.     — Alfonso Jasso 

Will Ward still be smiling on Saturday?
Will Ward still be smiling on Saturday?

Ward is as technical as they come and has a beard that can withstand punishment. But so far in his light heavyweight climb he has yet to face anyone with a big punch. Add to that the fact that Kovalev has faced both Hopkins and Isaac Chilemba and beaten them, and I have to go with a semi-dominant victory for the big Russian. Kovalev by UD.          — Chris Connor

This match is all about who can dictate the pace of the bout. Whoever is able to control pace and distance will emerge victorious. Based on his track record, the pick here is Ward. He will find a way to outfox, outbox, and outwork Kovalev to win this pound-for-pound contest. Ward by decision.         — Thad Moore 

Since this bout was proposed I’ve narrowly favoured Kovalev, but I haven’t spent too much time imagining how the contest will unfold. I’ve just trusted that Kovalev, who is much better than his last performance indicates, will trouble Ward with his ramrod jab, considerable physical strength and fearsome power. We all know S.O.G is as cagey and efficient as they come, but he’s also had just three fights in three years against humdrum opposition, and all the while Kovalev has been honing his craft and growing in confidence. I think he will unsettle Ward with the jab, hurt him at least once along the way and win a close majority decision. Then again, will I be massively shocked if Ward does to Kovalev what Terence Crawford did to Viktor Postol? No, probably not. I can’t wait.    — Ronnie McCluskey 

Sergey wins
The Krusher

Like anyone offering a prediction for this fight, I’m fully prepared to be proven wrong, but my thinking here is that Ward will be able to employ a more effective jab than Kovalev and as a result control distance, which is crucial. Also, Ward’s masterful in-fighting will surprise Kovalev, who has perhaps become too accustomed to having his way with every opponent. Along those lines, Ward is the only light heavyweight out there who can make Kovalev more reactive than proactive, and overcoming that will be the Russian’s greatest challenge. How will Kovalev adjust when his rhythm and timing are being consistently disrupted? Kovalev will keep this fight highly competitive, tense, and fascinating throughout, but Andre Ward will emerge with a close but clear unanimous decision victory.     — Zachary Alapi

As everyone says, this is a tough fight to pick and it’s not difficult to envision either man finding a way to win. But in the end, I have to pick Kovalev, almost on principle, as Ward’s career has been stalled for over four years. He’s going from guys like Brand and Barrera to one of the very best in the sport, pound-for-pound, and I don’t think he’s going to be ready. It’s been years since Ward has seen anything close to the kind of ruthlessness, aggression and firepower that Kovalev brings to the table and that’s a long time to go between legitimate challenges. I see Kovalev in firm control during the late going of a highly competitive battle, his power keeping Ward on the defensive. Kovalev by decision.    — Michael Carbert  

Kovalev vs Ward is the kind of match-up boxing has been screaming for. Two undefeated pound-for-pound greats facing off for light heavyweight pre-eminence isn’t exactly a regular occurrence in the sport, so it’s easy to see why it has fans excited. Whether or not the contest itself can live up to expectations remains to be seen. Look for Ward to start the fight on the back foot until he finds his spots against the big-punching Kovalev. The Russian will take the early rounds before the American finds his rhythm and works his way to a decision victory.       — Daniel Attias

A true "pick 'em" fight.
A true “pick ’em” fight.

Kovalev’s power obviously makes him dangerous throughout this fight, but I think Ward’s mastery of positioning, footwork and timing will be the deciding factors. I can see Ward dictating where and how the most meaningful exchanges take place, while frustrating and out-boxing the Russian to earn a fairly clear unanimous decision. Ward by unanimous decision.       — Matt O’Brien 

This is an intriguing match-up for a number of reasons, not least being that it’s easy to envision scenarios for either man to win. But ultimately I think 12 rounds is a long time for Ward to stay away from Kovalev’s power. Overall, Ward has faced the stronger opposition, though you have to go back six or seven years to his fights with Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler. But he’s never faced a puncher like Kovalev, who is at his peak and primed to take advantage of this huge opportunity. At some point “Krusher” is going to land some big shots and I don’t see Ward handling it well. Kovalev knows how to get the distance he wants with that jab and in the later rounds he’s going to punish Ward. If the challenger’s corner doesn’t stop it, the referee will. Kovalev by TKO.     — Robert Portis 

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One thought on “Kovalev vs Ward: The Fight City Picks

  • November 19, 2016 at 9:55 am

    True pick’em fight! Leading up to the fight I had Kovalev winning by late stoppage. His distance management and power will make it very tough for Ward to get on the inside. He’ll definitely have to take some shots if he wants this fight to get on the inside. But as fight night is here, I’ve actually leaned towards SOG by late stoppage! Although Kovalev himself is a very underrated boxer, SOG is the true maestro. He has the IQ to nullify Krusher’s jab and the type of jab that would disrupt any opponents rhythm. He’ll have the advantage in hand and foot speed to let his punches go and angle out. I don’t think this fight is going 12. These are 2 hungry lions about to be let loose against each other! We’re all in for a treat


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