Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev II Fight Preview and Prediction to Win
When: Saturday, June 17, 2017
Where: Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada
Weight Class: Light Heavyweights
Titles: World Light Heavyweight Championship
By Loot, Boxing Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Andre Ward, 31-0 (15 KOs), Oakland, California
Sergey Kovalev, 30-1-1 (26 KOs), Florida/Russia
Betting Odds: Andre Ward -160, Sergey Kovalev +140
Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev battle it out on June 17 for the World Light Heavyweight Championship. This is a rematch of a November fight where Ward was the recipient of a controversial unanimous decision. Ward braved some very hurtful early passages in the fight, as the murderous-punching Kovalev dominated early. Ward turned it around, but many feel not to an extent to win. Nevertheless, it was a close fight and both look forward to setting the record straight on June 17 in Las Vegas.
Potential Kovalev backers must certainly be leery to bet on their man again, considering what happened the first time around. When you're facing well-established pound-for-pound guys like Ward, it's not enough to edge them for a decision. It's nothing really new in the sport. There is a dynamic where the A-side of the equation is given the benefit of the doubt. In other words, Kovalev has to do more than Ward. Whereas Ward, 33, was given most close rounds, Kovalev, 34, has to make a stronger case to get the nod. Perhaps it's not fair, but that's the way it goes.
Then you have the backlash possibility where a victim of a bad decision is given more credit in the rematch based on a certain level of sympathy stemming from the scores in the first fight. We've also seen this before many times, when the recipient of a bad decision gets more juice from the judges in the rematch. But then again, was the decision bad? The fight had a draw-ish look to it when it was said and done. Kovalev did more damage and if inclined to pick a winner, the majority of observers would pick him. But the decision in favor of Ward probably falls short of the term "robbery." If thinking about the fairness of this fight and the judging, I'd probably be more concerned if I was a Kovalev fan or backer. He dropped Ward, hurt him, and hung in there well even when Ward started to turn the tide. And he didn't get the nod. Can he do better?
That's the question of most concern heading into the rematch. Who is more likely to benefit from the experience of the first fight? On one hand, Kovalev fought a boxer of the highest order and now knows what it's like to tangle with that level of fighter. He thrived against Ward and can maybe make a few adjustments, namely how to make more of an imprint when fortunate enough to hurt Ward. After tasting defeat for the first time, will we see an even more-focused and dialed-in Kovalev in this fight?
On the other hand, you have the highly-cerebral Ward, a fighter you almost have to think will enter the rematch with an enriched perspective. He is the one who closed the fight strong and he looks to continue that momentum going into the rematch. Ward was able to make mid-fight adjustments and with months to ponder his situation with his trainer Virgil Hunter, it's not hard to imagine Ward picking up where he left off in the first fight. In a way, you have to think which fighter is likely to benefit from reflecting on the first fight and coming up with the right approach from the rematch. The immediate urge is to put that part of the equation in the Ward column.
Still, there is something to be said for how well Kovalev performed in the first fight. Facing his first top-end opponent in his prime, he stepped up and in a lot of people's minds, did enough to win. A lot of guys who depend on power like Kovalev can be lost at sea against masters of pugilism like Ward. But Kovalev was in his realm. And even when Ward started to get into a groove, the "Krusher" was never left in the dust. All this sets up in a way that suggests that expecting Ward to be the only one to improve could be a miscue.
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The first fight was close, but the scores of the judges made it seem like Kovalev has to do so much more to win. Ward is the lone remaining American boxing superstar. He's not an ultra-popular champion perhaps, but he's clearly the best fighter in the USA. So perhaps American judges subconsciously factor that into the equation. It's hard to not notice that the superstar in his home country typically gets a better shake of things. Does that make it just too hard for Kovalev to win.
Granted, Kovalev could learn from the first fight. Judges could backlash and give him some benefit of the doubt after he seemed to get the short end of the stick in the first fight. But I see Ward's built-in advantage and the fact that he started to figure out Kovalev in the second half of the first fight as being more compelling. I see Ward having a slightly-easier time of it the second time around, as he earns a close decision win.
Loot's Pick to Win the Fight: I'm betting on Andre Ward at -160. Did you know... that you could be wagering on fights at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying inflated odds with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!