Sergey Kovalev looks to reclaim belts on Saturday
“Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev II: The Rematch” will take place at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday for the unified IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight championship.
Let’s hope actions indeed speak louder than words because, if the pre-fight comments by former champ Kovalev are any indication of what is to come on fight night, the action should be fast and furious.
In short, Kovalev, 30-1-1 (26), believes he clearly beat Ward, 31-0 (15), in their first fight and wants his belts back. He also doesn’t appear to particularly like Andre Ward.
The two first met last November in a highly-anticipated matchup that saw Ward overcome a second round knockdown to pry the belts from defending champion Kovalev by way of a highly debatable unanimous decision.
After that fight, Kovalev said he was “disappointed with the decision” and he was “hungry for a rematch.” Some of his post-fight comments alluded to the possibility that geography may have played a role in a home advantage for the “Son of God,” with the razor-thin decision going Ward’s way.
“I’m the guest here in the U.S.A.,” said Kovalev. “(Ward)’s a local and all the judges were from the U.S.A. I agree they support a boxer but be honest. This is a sport; don’t make it politics. I won this fight.”
Kovalev, 34, is one of the most respected (see: feared) boxers in the game, largely due to amassing 26 knockouts in 30 wins as a professional, along with the very close decision loss to Ward and one draw. Kovalev has made it clear he plans to use all of his power, and more, heading into bout No. 2. He clearly doesn’t want to leave the result up to the judges this time.
“I feel like I let the fans down because, in the last fight, I promised, I promised to boxing fans that I would kick his ass much, much, much more and I let them down. But I won the fight. I should have got the victory,” said Kovalev. “It wasn’t my goal to knock him out but after the fifth round, my energy level went down. I think I over-trained. I never did a training camp like I did for the Ward camp. I did much, much more than usual.”
While many fans and experts see Ward as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world, Kovalev made it clear that he doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about when it comes to his San Francisco-born rival.
“He cannot knock me out. He slaps like a woman,” said Kovalev. “He is not going to knock me out. I am ready for anything. He is a guy who thinks too much of himself. He walks around like he has a crown on his head. He doesn’t deserve any respect from me. I want to punish him. In the next fight, I will give him much more knockdowns. I will kick his ass.”
So what can fans can expect from Kovalev heading into the rematch?
“I apologized to my fans because my performance in my last fight was not very good and I know I can do better. I fought without energy in the last fight and I still won the fight,” he said. “The next fight, there will be more punches. The first fight was the biggest fight of my career but the rematch means much more and I am very happy that I got this opportunity to get my belts back. My goal is to get those belts back on June 17th in Las Vegas.”