Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev will resume their rivalry in a Las Vegas rematch and we asked our Panel of experts to pick a winner.
Ward claimed a narrow victory in the first fight in November, winning by a single point on all three scorecards, and he defends the WBA ‘super’, IBF and WBO light-heavyweight titles in this second clash with Kovalev in the early hours of Sunday morning, live on Sky Sports.
Live Fight Night International
June 18, 2017, 2:00am
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Can Ward enhance his status as one of the world’s top fighters with a repeat victory, or will Kovalev gain a satisfying revenge win? Our Panel have made their predictions…
I’m expecting a similar sort of fight, although there should be more work from Kovalev, who will be trying to force victory this time. But Ward is difficult to beat, he’s hard to hit. Kovalev did find a way to catch him and Ward will try to adjust from that, he’s so clever.
I’m not sure whether Ward will be able to employ those tactics where he sits on your chest and mauls you, ties you up. He cannot do that effectively against a bigger man. Kovalev is the stronger man at light-heavyweight and I just think he will take the rematch on points, unless he manages to deliver that knockout blow earlier.
I think Ward will have adjusted for the rematch, because he’s a very smart fighter. But we know what happens when Kovalev lands. If Kovalev can sustain that aggression a bit more, then Ward could be in trouble. But Ward is excellent at nullifying his opponent’s strengths and will try to do that from the start this time.
Kovalev can box and I think he will use his boxing skills more in order to get his power shots off. It will be a better fight all round, both men will be better, and I think Ward will win again on points, but it would not surprise me if Kovalev knocks him out.
I think Kovalev will come looking for the stoppage, which is the only way he can win because he can’t out-point Ward. If Kovalev hurts him, believe you me, he will not let Ward off the hook this time. Sergey Kovalev lost that fight more than Andre Ward won it. The opportunity was there for Kovalev and he did not jump on it.
When the rematch was first announced I thought it was 60-40 in Ward’s favour. But now it’s 51-49 in Ward’s favour. Ward wins on points, but I’m not saying that with confidence.
Now Kovalev knows what he’s capable of doing to Ward, I think he wins conclusively in this weekend’s rematch.
There will be more knockdowns in the second fight. Kovalev has already shown that he’s strong enough to put Ward down. Kovalev will come for the knockout, but he’ll have to settle for an emphatic points win.
I am going to stick my neck out again and stick with Kovalev. His style is all wrong for Ward, despite the American’s slick skills. Kovalev is such a hard guy.
I don’t see him making the same mistakes this time. I just think he eased off a bit and let Ward in and that proved his downfall. I just don’t see him doing that again and just think he’ll walk Ward down and win on points.
Second time around, Ward might change his tactics slightly. I don’t think he should have allowed Kovalev so much momentum coming forward. He could have sat in the pocket more and not been on the end of Kovalev’s shots so many times. Ward did figure that out towards the end of the fight.
Ward will have learned a lot from that first fight, while I do not think Kovalev can adapt that much. He will be the same fighter as last time. I think we’ll see a different Ward and he’s going to win again on points with a clear-cut verdict.
Paul Smith vs Tyron Zeuge is live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 9pm on Saturday, then Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev II is live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 2am on Sunday morning.