By Scoop Malinowski
On the “Boxing Thrill Meter” the super fight clash of titans featuring Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward for the Light Heavyweight Championship rates a ten out of ten. Kovalev and Ward are both modern era greats with different, contrasting styles, and there is absolute certainty that their anticipated fistic confrontation will fascinate and awe on November 19 in Las Vegas. “The Krusher” from Russia is the intimidating knockout machine with a 30-0-1 record (26 KOs). Ward is the dazzling offensive whirlwind with quick, creative fists. It’s a combination of extraordinary gladiator talents which has the boxing world captivated. With such an intriguing fight looming, there is a degree of drama involved.
There is speculation that Ward did not fully want this most challenging assignment to box Kovalev, according to Kovalev’s promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events (more on that later), but the contracts are signed, tickets are on sale, and the betting odds have been set with Ward regarded as the slight favorite. The two combatants recently announced their fight at a New York City press conference at the Le Parker Meridien hotel penthouse and as always at these obligatory functions, there was excitement in the air and some very interesting words were spoken.
Peter Nelson HBO Sports: “It’s the writers who continue to write for the best to fight the best that makes the sport flourish. This fight has captivated everyone’s imagination. ”
Jolene Mizzone – Main Events publicity: “I give Ward a lot of credit for taking this fight. ”
James Prince – Roc Nation/Andre Ward: “This is David and Goliath. Don’t miss it. ”
Michael Yormark – Roc Nation: “That’s why there’s so many people on this dais. We’re all so proud to be associated with this event. ”
Virgil Hunter – Ward’s trainer: “This is a great fight. I’m glad to be a part of it. See everybody in Vegas. ”
Andre Ward: “Kathy (looking to his right at Kathy Duva), I showed up. I made it. I made it [smiling]. I’m grateful to be here today. I want to thank everyone who is associated with this event—the good, the bad, the press, all of it. Obviously HBO, Peter Nelson, Roc Nation, Main Events, everyone who’s associated with it. It’s hard to thank everybody…. It’s a lot of people that you guys know of that worked on this fight to get it done. There’s a lot of different nuances that go into getting a fight like this done, but it’s done. That’s what we should all focus on. “I thank God for this opportunity. I thank God for my career and being able to compete at a high level through the peaks and valleys. Sometimes that gets overlooked, a veteran in the game. I’ve paid my dues and I continue to pay my dues. This is just another opportunity. I’ve been in this position before and so has my opponent. It doesn’t matter what the other side says, how they feel, what they say. He’s got to get it done and I’ve got to get it done. When those bright lights come on who it’s all about who executes and who gets it done. I don’t have to throw chairs. I don’t have to cuss. I don’t have to act crazy. I said let’s fight, lets fight. You’re selling yourself. I know that what I possess and what I have is in me, and not on me. ”
Egis Klimas – Kovalev manager: “We’ve worked very hard at this since 2009 (when Kovalev turned pro). Sergey was never pushed by the media. He never was mismatched (with easy fights) or protected like many fighters are protected. He never asked me in his career who his opponent is, he just asked ‘When am I fighting?'” I’m a little nervous, a little excited. Never been involved in a fight like this before. We’re really looking forward to November 19 in Las Vegas. John David Jackson – Kovalev trainer: “Andre Ward is a very good pro. Sergey Kovalev has been destroying people. On November 19 I see a great fight. The winner deserves to be the best pound for pound fighter in the world. We’ll see what happens. Expect a great fight between two very, very good good fighters. ”
Kathy Duva – Kovalev promoter: “All Sergey ever asked me to do was to take him to the world title. He had one test after another. He’s done everything I asked and kicked everyone’s ass along the way. ”
Sergey Kovalev: “It’s a big moment in my career. I want to thank all of the people who are involved with this fight, my promoter Kathy Duva, Roc Nation and HBO Pay-Per-View. Thank you to all of my fans. Both of us will be ready to give boxing fans a great fight. This fight will be remembered by history. I saw his last fight – he showed he can box at distance and close. I don’t have a plan for this fight. I just get in the ring and make a fight. To me, boxing is like a street fight with rules. ”
The two champions engaged in a for the media at the New York City press conference
Both universally respected champions showed respect for each other. Ward even says that he rates Kovalev as a better, more lethal foe than the undefeated middleweight champion
Kovalev also expressed humor relating to Ward. When asked about the comments made by Floyd Mayweather, who had urged Ward to duck Kovalev and not be forced into the fight by HBO, Kovalev joked with a big grin, “He’s right!”
(Photos by Scoop Malinowski. Scoop’s seventh book “Facing McEnroe” is available at amazon. ).