It goes down tonight, that once common but now rare phenomenon of the best fighting the best, Kovalev vs Ward, a showdown for much more than several light heavyweight title belts, but a match that barely transcends the narrow confines of what has become a niche sport, featuring as it does two boxers who are hardly household names, at least in the U.S. But look at that! A flurry of pre-fight publicity has nudged the needle of general interest, at least a tad. My goodness, #KovalevWard is even trending on Twitter!
Not that visitors to this website need anything extra to get jacked for this match. The stakes are high, both men are in or very close to their athletic primes, and if it does unfold as the highly competitive and exciting contest which many anticipate (Our fervent prayer to the Boxing Gods: Please don’t let it be a boring clinch-fest! Please don’t let it be a boring clinch-fest!), than the winner becomes what boxing is always in desperate need of: a star. If Ward dethrones Kovalev in impressive fashion, look to see his face popping up everywhere as he assumes the position once held by Floyd Mayweather, that being an undefeated, multi-division, American-born world champion who is not just the best fighter in the game today, but most assuredly a future Hall of Famer, an all-time great, “#TBE” and all that.
If Kovalev wins, especially should he triumph by emphatic stoppage, he officially joins Gennady Golovkin as the other monstrously powerful force in boxing, a lethal power puncher who is seemingly unstoppable. Like Golovkin, he has a unique charisma all his own, but in contrast to GGG’s good-natured persona and goofy grin, Kovalev’s charm entails a chilling and genuine aura of menace and a grim desire to inflict pain and suffering on his opponents. Of course the down side could be that if “Krusher” dispatches Ward in violent fashion, he may have to endure Golovkin’s fate in today’s anemic version of boxing chock full of anemic boxers, that being having precious few opponents with the cojones necessary to step up and take him on.
But it’s just as likely that Ward will triumph, because #KovalevWard is indeed that rare thing, a genuine “pick ’em” fight. Even so, our contributors all pulled the trigger yesterday and offered up their picks and tonight we find out whose tea leaves are the real deal. In the meantime, we offer once again Lee Wylie’s brilliant video on this match-up, which you likely have already seen, but let’s face it, it definitely bears repeat viewings. In fact, it’s nothing less than mandatory viewing for serious fight fans as the minutes count down to tonight’s opening bell. No one breaks down fights like Mr. Wylie and he outdoes himself in both his “Beyond A Punch” video and his detailed essay on the fight.
Finally, some original photos from yesterday’s weigh-in by Jeff Lockhart, an outstanding photographer who is on location for Ward vs Kovalev on behalf of The Fight City. We are proud to feature Jeff’s work and look forward to collaborating with him again in the future.
So, are we hyped yet? Yeah, us too. #KovalevWard. It goes down tonight. Here’s hoping it’s a thriller and a chiller. — Robert Portis
#KovalevWard weigh-in photos by Jeff Lockhart.