Every so often life gives us special events which captivate our attention and set the stage for individuals to rise to the pinnacle of their profession. In boxing nights like these are few and far between. Super fights, which resonate throughout history, have shaped the landscape of professional boxing. Ali-Frazier, Ali-Foreman, Leonard-Hearns, Tyson-Holyfield, Mayweather-Pacquiao are nights that have brought the eyes of the world to the sport of boxing. Moments like these live on, they offer men opportunities to elevate their status in history on the biggest stage, under the brightest lights.
Tonight, Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev attempt to etch their lineage in boxing lore in a matchup of two undefeated prizefighters in the prime of their careers. Andre Ward is the last man to win the gold medal for the United States of America in boxing and has had a career filled with trials and tribulations. From winning the highly regarded Super Six Tournament in the middleweight division by defeating the likes of Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch, to having unforeseen legal issues which has limited Ward to fighting only four times in the past four years. His inactivity has led many to undervalue his supremacy as one of the top boxers in the world. Tonight is the night in which Ward can silence the doubters and elevate his status to the top of the pound for pound list.
For Sergey Kovalev, a fighter from Russia who has coveted the big stage, this fight with Ward could not come soon enough. Kovalev (known as the crusher) has defeated the likes of Bernard Hopkins and every opponent that has stood in his way. Tonight Kovalev seeks to ascend to the top spot of the pound for pound list and cement his legacy as the best fighter in the world.
Andre Ward 30-0 15 knockouts;
Tko win over MIkkel Kessler round 11;
Unanimous decision Win over Arthur Abraham;
Tko win over Chad Dawson.
Sergey Kovalev 30-0-1 26 KOs;
Tko win over Jean Pascal;
Unanimous decision win over Bernard Hopkins;
Unanimous decisions win over Isaac Chilemba.
KEYS TO VICTORY
For “The Crusher” Kovalev to win he has to establish the pace. He cannot sit back and try to win a chess match with Ward. He must establish himself as the aggressor and look to bully Andre in the ring. He must set the tone early with punches to the body and force Ward into a dogfight. However, he must pace himself and not smother his punches. If Kovalev can establish body punching and mix combinations upstairs, Ward could be in for a long night.
For Andre Ward there are various ways in which he can look to exploit Kovalev’s weaknesses. Andre Ward must use his ring intelligence and IQ. He must look to vary his looks throughout the fight as he wont be able to dance on the outside for 12 rounds. Andre must use the sweet science by controlling the range in the fight. That means he must keep Sergey on the outside, while at times looking to smother Kovalev’s power punches on the inside. If Andre Ward can control the range, he can frustrate Kovalev and use his aggression against him.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION AND BETTING STRATEGY
The headline reads “COMING OUT PARTY FOR ANDRE WARD.” I predict Ward will seize the opportunity tonight in Vegas. He will shine under the bright lights, coming out and setting the pace with the heavy puncher Kovalev. I believe Ward will be right there and look to land hard shots early while looking to tie Kovalev up on the inside. Barring a few tense moments (possible flash knockdown), Ahead of the Spread Boxing predicts Andre Ward to frustrate, counter punch and walk Sergey Kovalev down (especially in the later rounds) on his way to victory. 117-111 Andre Ward.
Disclaimer: In boxing anything can happen with the judges, especially in Las Vegas. With that being said, always be careful betting fights because what YOU see may not always be what THEY see (example: Pacquiao-Bradley I).
A fight prop I would be interested in is “Ward by unanimous decision.” Even a possible “Exact-Result TKO” of Kovalev late in the fight but I would only take a TKO prop if it’s offered at a favorable price and if you’re looking to bet a long shot that still has some real potential. The safe bet is “Ward by majority decision” as one judge can often have the fight a draw so that people who bet unanimous decision lose. Ahead of the Spread Boxing will also be giving live round by round coverage of the fight so make sure to check our twitter feed.
Make sure to check back with Ahead of the Spread Boxing, as we will be doing a monthly fighter breakdown of rising stars while previewing future fights.