By Tom Donelson / Author, Member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Our mutual friend Rusty Rubin (R.I.P.) was instrumental in connecting Tom to dmboxing.com in 2008.
Sergey Kovalev faces Andre Ward in their second bout. For Kovalev, this represents revenge as he felt that he won their first fight and he certainly had a good case. Ward managed to win a close bout on the judges’ score card but in their first bout, Ward did not look like the Ward of old using his speed and defense to avoid getting hit while countering effectively. Whether this was due to his age, past injuries or the early power of Kovalev, Ward did not look like the fighter who dominated the Super Middleweight division against some of the elite fighters of that division.
The question will be if Ward can recapture some of his youth and show the defensive skills that allowed him to prosper in the Super Middleweight. Kovalev is a solid boxer with power go to with his sound techniques. Throughout the bout, his punches had more pop and this was self-evident over the first four rounds in which he sent Ward down for an eight count while taking a big lead on the cards. Starting in the third round, Ward simply turned the fight into a brawl and fought on the inside of the powerful Russian.
Ward showed adaptability in their first fight but the question is whether he would repeat a similar performance. As for Kovalev, his power served him well except he couldn’t stop Ward and allow the fight to be in the hands of the judges. While the fight was close, I scored the first fight for Kovalev but the fight was close enough to go the other way.
Kovalev in their first fight dominated the opening rounds by using his jab, keeping Ward off guard and this opening allowed him to land his power shots. Will Kovalev come out fast and try to dominate the early portion of the fight? Kovalev showed that he had the more power in his punches but he allowed Ward to pressure him on the inside so Kovalev may be smart to box and jab since his jab is powerful enough to disrupt Ward’s own counters while opening up his power shots.
Ward needs to pound the body as he did in the first fight to slow Kovalev down and then take control in the second half of the fight.
This fight will be between Ward’s guile and Kovalev’s power.