IS ANDRE WARD SCARED OF SERGEY KOVALEV?
Editorial By John Gatling, Real Combat Media NY Boxing Correspondent
“I’m excited. I had to get past this step, [Kovalev] got past his step. If I’m not ready to fight the best now, I’ll never be ready.”
Andre Ward, after his tedious 12 round UD over Alexander Brand, while being interviewed in the ring with light heavyweight warlord Sergey Kovalev.
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So then, what’s the hold up? In a revealing interview with Radio Rahim, Kovalev promoter Kathy Duva pulled no punches and slugged both Ward and Jay-Z promotional outfit ROC Nation for attempting to sabotage the November 19 mega-bout between Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) and Kovalev (30-0-1, 26KOs).
“We had an agreement, and the other side doesn’t want to come to terms over very petty things,” stated a frustrated Duva. “I’m very disappointed. “
KATHY DUVA INTERVIEW
Here’s what we know: An agreement was made in June for the two pound-for-pound titans to collide in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand if they were to win proverbial tune-up fights. Somewhere down the line, that venue was upgraded to the new T-Mobile Arena. Ward was in attendance for the May 7 Canelo vs Khan event to scout the arena. He came alone, and immediately left following the fight, but not before avoiding all media.
You heard Ward refer to Kovalev’s ‘first step’, courtesy of a tactical UD win over Isaac Chilemba @DIVS Arena in Ekaterinburg, Russia. The last time Kovalev fought there, in December 2011, his opponent, Roman Simakov, tragically died as a result of grievous injuries sustained at the hands of Kovalev. Certainly, this was no easy task for Kovalev, considering he had to prep for a Ward-like opponent in front of that man’s family.
Ward, on the other hand, was back in the friendly confines of Oracle Arena in Oakland, to face a 39 year-old Brand, who was a very small light heavyweight. Brand could easily pass for 49, and was not the type of opponent who would appear to get him ready for the ultra-aggressive Kovalev.
Per their agreement with Ward and ROC Nation in late June, a press conference would be held in Los Angeles on August 9 to formally announce the bout. Duva stated that earlier last week, ROC Nation and Ward reneged on the deal, since it was too close to the Brand fight. LA and Oakland is not very far apart.
Still, Kovalev met what seemed to be an apprehensive Ward in the ring after his defeat of Brand with the hope that he’d show up.
“Where is Ward? We’re doing this for the fans. I’m very disappointed,” said Kovalev to the busy Radio Rahim.
Ward, citing fatigue following his run-of-the-table shutout of Brand, left Kovalev alone at the podium after generating no excitement with Brand. This is the same Ward (aka the “Son of God”) who recently stated that he is a ‘combination of Roy Jones, Floyd Mayweather and Bernard Hopkins’.
Jones once defended his IBF super middleweight title after playing a semi-pro basketball game earlier in the same day. Mayweather is arguably the biggest star in boxing history– who could blame him for being a no-show on the podium? The incomparable Hopkins fought the deadly Kovalev at a real age 49, with absolutely no problems in negotiations.
If Ward fails to face Kovalev, in a fight boxing needs in 2016, it would have to be considered a travesty. Ward has been largely irrelevant over the last 4 years since dominating a light heavyweight Chad Dawson at 168. He then passed on lineal WBC champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson, mentioned as a superfight alternative if Ward fails to come to terms.
Lastly, Kovalev trainer John David Jackson told Radio Rahim that Ward may have lost physical ability, indicating that it may weigh on his decision to face his fighter. Though he earned a clear decision over Brand, Ward does show signs of physical regression in both body and hand speed. He was also clipped by the ancient Brand several times throughout, prompting some doubt as to what would happen against “The Krusher”.
Jackson, for his part, predicted an 11th round stoppage of Ward. “Listen his prime years are gone, he wasted the last 5 years,” said a confident Jackson. “He didn’t have the best power or chin at 168, and his inside game isn’t the best. So we’ll see what happens.”
Indeed we will.
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