T-Mobile Center, Las Vegas, NV, Nov. 19
TV: HBO Pay-Per-View
By Peter Lim
This prediction is based on how each fighter's performances against previous opponents with styles close or similar to the other's.
Sergei Kovalev faced tricky, elusive, shoulder-rolling fighters in his two fights with Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins. In both cases, Kovalev had little trouble penetrating their defenses and delivering punches from difficult angles. He dominated both fighters, stopping Pascal twice and pitching a virtual shutout against Hopkins.
The closest opponent to Kovalev style-wise that Andre Ward has faced is a composite of Carl Froch Mikkel Kessler. While Ward pretty much had his way against Kessler, he had a harder time with Froch. He allowed Froch to sporadically be first to the punch, get inside and back him up.
Kovalev will not be able to hit Ward as easily and relentlessly as he did Hopkins and Pascal, but his punches will get there nonetheless. Feeling the Russian's power, Ward attempts to kill his rhythm by smothering and clinching with a measure of success. But Kovalev is steadfast in his attack and finds enough openings to win a decision in the 116-112 range.
Great fight, horrible decision and atrociously biased commentary by Max Kellerman and Roy Jones. The fight unfolded exactly as predicted except for the terrible verdict.
Equally horrendous decision in the Darleys Perez-Maurice Hooker undercard.