If there’s one struggle that’s the epitome of elite punching power towards elite boxing expertise, it’s Sergey Kovalev VS Andre Ward. It’s the very essence of the perfect preventing the most effective, as Ward who reigned the Super Middleweight division for years, moves up in weight to take on a menacing problem and the extensively regarded No 1 Mild Heavyweight in Kovalev.
There are lots of extra questions which is why this battle is so intriguing. My battle evaluation explores the strengthes and weaknesses of both boxers to determine who is more more likely to snatch the opposite fighter’s zero and stay undefeated.
- 1 Past Opposition
- 2 Dealing with the Doppelganger
- 3 Greatest Punches
- 4 Boxing Expertise
- 5 Defensive Talents
- 6 Other Major Elements
- 7 The Most Doubtless End result?
In any case but clearing out the Tremendous Middleweight division almost three years in the past (nonetheless bummed that he didn’t battle Andre Dirrell for questionable causes!), Ward has executed little or no since then. He’s had 3 fights prior to now 33 months towards mediocre opposition. Nonetheless, it’s truthful to say that he has the higher general resume.
One of the best win for Kovalev is clearly a 50 yr previous undersized Bernard Hopkins, followed by a recreation but flawed Jean Pascal. Nevertheless, at the very least he’s stayed lively, amassing 7 wins (5 by KO) in the identical time Ward racked up three.
So what we have now here is one fighter who has more expertise towards better opposition however has been largely inactive in recent times, and one other who has fought extra typically towards mainly greater and respectable opponents however lacks defining wins towards elite fighters of their prime.
These elements type of stability one another out, and the argument of who has fought higher fighters is futile. As an alternative, we should always take a look at who has fought boxers that greatest mimic one another’s fashion, and that closely favours Sergey Kovalev.
Dealing with the Doppelganger
The thing about elite fighters is that they’re up to now ahead of the competitors that it’s troublesome to seek out different fighters that may help one put together for them. It’s typically the case that the elite have types which might be so unique and awkward that they really are certainly one of a sort.
Kovalev’s energy and elegance is unmatched, and the same goes for Ward’s slickness and skillset. Nevertheless, if certainly one of them is best prepared towards the other’s fashion, it’s Kovalev.
In fact, it doesn’t assist that Ward has barely even fought, however let’s check out two of Kovalev’s previous opponents that have some traits Ward possesses.
- Isaac Chilemba – an athletic and agile boxer with good higher body movement, a quick jab and a strong chin. He makes use of the shoulder roll fairly properly, and may battle at any range – brief, mid and lengthy. Despite inflicting Kovalev all types of problems together with his jab and protection, he lacked the punching power and work price to actually cause any real injury.
- Bernard Hopkins – a extremely skilled boxer additionally with good footwork and higher physique motion. The wily veteran can often struggle at any vary too, however Kovalev’s measurement, power and control of distance utterly neutralized Hopkin’s capability to get in shut. As an alternative, he was decreased to counterpunching and surviving from the surface.
Granted, at this stage Andre Ward has higher inside preventing, counterpunching and defensive talents than the aforementioned boxers. However one attribute that they have over Ward is a better chin. Regardless of taking some horrific punches from Kovalev, each have been harm however have by no means ever been stopped.
Sifting via Ward’s past opponents, it’s exhausting to see how any of their types remotely resembles Kovalev’s, but when I actually had to decide on, I’d say the low lead hand and occassionally wild nature of Edwin Rodriguez and Sakio Bika might be likened to the best way Kovalev fights.
Though the large distinction is clearly the dimensions and energy, and the truth that Kovalev is the higher boxer – he controls distance better, uses feints and shoots straight punches.
The conclusion I can draw about their experiences of dealing with comparable types to each other is that Kovalev has seen this earlier than, albeit on a decrease degree which may fustrate him; however, Ward has never confronted this displaying of drive before, which may overwhelm him like never before.
Taking energy out of the equation for a second, let’s take a look at who has the higher punch selection however extra importantly, utilization of their greatest punches.
Sergey Kovalev’s Greatest Punches
Kovalev is primarily a one-two fighter, which means that his entire fashion is predicated around throwing the jab with the straight behind it. It might sound primary, however Kovalev is pretty artistic in relation to his bread and butter punches.
The Kovalev Jab
I think about Kovalev’s jab to be the second strongest jab in boxing as we speak (after Gennady Golovkin’s jab). The load behind it is astounding and you may see the impact it has simply by taking a look at his opponent’s faces each time it lands.
Kovalev patiently stalks and occasions Chilemba’s jab together with his own jab.
He would typically throw his jab out there to line up his straight, or he’d throw the facility jab following the straight, typically leaping in with it, which makes him weak but in addition so dangerous on the similar time.
Most fighters assume “oh, he’s going to throw a one-two and I’m going to avoid it” but NO; there’s often one or two power jabs after which Kovalev is able to shift extra weight into as a consequence of his left shoulder positioning after the straight is thrown.
The jab to the body can also be a favoured punch by Kovalev. For most boxers, it’s merely used to create a gap upstairs but for Kovalev, he uses it to suck the oxygen out of his opponent. When it lands, there’s a delicate response which is made evident when his opponents retreat or move their arm down just a little to protect their physique.
The Kovalev Straight Proper
Kovalev’s jab and straight proper go together like white on rice, but they’re both pretty effective when thrown independently too.
Kovalev lands two lead straight rights on Jean Pascal followed by some vicious body photographs.
His straight proper comes out quick and heavy, type of like a swinging log choosing up velocity…however the factor is, it’s typically predictable and he requires area for it to be efficient.
Andre Ward can neutralize Kovalev’s right hand by staying out of vary or up close, not in mid vary where it’s handiest. If Ward does choose to remain in mid range, he’ll doubtless have the reflexes to duck beneath it.
If Kovalev needs to catch Ward with the straight right, he must time his head movement with feints. Ward ducks low, but Kovalev can in all probability catch him on the prime of the top. I’m positive that’ll be sufficient to rattle Ward’s brains.
The Kovalev Chopping Proper Hook
It’s commonplace to see fighters shelling up towards Kovalev; Cleverly did it, Agnew did it and so did Pascal. It’s a way of survival that finally just extended the beating they acquired, as Kovalev just goes across the guard with chopping right hooks.
As devastating as these thudding blows look, they’re only efficient on stationary targets. Whereas Ward does typically adopt an open gloved excessive guard exactly how Winky Wright used to, he doesn’t permit you to just flail on him.
As an alternative, he’d change up the space whereas adopting the high guard, which takes the leverage out of the punches. Subsequently, it’ll be troublesome for Kovalev to land one among his chopping proper hooks.
Andre Ward’s Greatest Punches
It’s clear that Ward has the better punch selection and he’s capable of put them to good use at any vary because of his velocity and timing.
The Ward Jab
The facility jab, vary finder jab, feint jab, step jab and up jab; you identify it, Ward can do it. He has virtually mastered the jab and if the Chilemba battle is anything to go by, Kovalev is going to have an extended night time making an attempt to get previous Ward’s jab.
Even when he’s not throwing punches, Ward’s lead hand is all the time either measuring up his opponent or distracting him. It will cause Kovalev all types of problems as he has to reset every time he gets prodded with the jab.
If Kovalev needs to neutralize Ward’s jab, he’ll need to jab with the jabber and look to counter with the straight right over the Ward’s jab concurrently he’s throwing it, NOT after because Ward will just instinctively dodge the punch.
Kovalev has the attain advantage by an inch or so, so he’s capable of jabbing with Ward, but the primary drawback for Kovalev is that he stands too upright whereas Ward stays low, which allows him to get underneath his opponent’s offense and shut the space.
The Ward Straight
Ok, so Ward doesn’t have a thunderous straight right that may shake you right down to your boots, but what he does have is an uncanny method of utilizing it.
Ward lands mixtures on Arthur Abraham.
He might throw it and lead in together with his head on the similar time, making himself a smaller goal while utilizing his head as a ramrod. Different occasions, he’ll throw it to the photo voltaic plexus and unexpectedly come up prime with the facility jab. However more often than not, he’ll use his lead hand as a gauge for throwing his straight right on the good time.
It in all probability gained’t put Kovalev in any critical hassle, however it’ll damn positive annoy the hell out of him if it lands often enough. Finally, it’s the jab that I see causing Kovalev probably the most issues.
The Ward Uppercuts
The lead and rear uppercuts are dangerous punches to throw as they find yourself leaving one aspect of your face utterly exposed. Timing and distance is paramount for these punches and Ward understands that.
He’s so sneaky together with his uppercuts when on the within, and it’s superb to see how he positions his physique to realize leverage on them. Will Ward’s uppercuts be vital weapons towards Kovalev?
I don’t assume so as a result of Kovalev provides you his aspect relatively than standing sq. on, and he’ll try to maintain it mid-range. These elements alone will make it robust for Ward to land his uppercuts with any actual consistency (until in fact, much of the struggle finally ends up happening at shut vary).
There can be occasions when both fighters can be up shut and private. There’ll in all probability be various clinches, however whether or not Ward decides to make that part of his technique is one other story. When this example does happen, you better consider that Ward will get busy with brief photographs on the inside.
Ward throwing brief photographs and mixtures on the within.
He’s masterful at maneuvering his body into a position where he’s capable of throw brief hooks around the aspect or uppercuts via the middle. He’ll probably have success doing this towards Kovalev, but the query is how typically will he do this?
Ward is use to muscling around Tremendous Middleweights, however it’s a lot more tiring and dangerous towards greater and stronger opponents. He tried to do that towards Sullivan Barrera however it was clear that outmuscling him would prove to be a lot more troublesome.
Regardless that Kovalev can’t battle on the inside and is often lowered to clinching, leaning or putting his opponent in a headlock, it’ll still be clever of Ward to restrict his time on the within, at the least until Kovalev tires enough.
An underused method in boxing today is using feints. They’re extremely useful for creating opportunities towards defensively expert boxers – something that Ward is.
Kovalev feints the proper however throws a power jab as an alternative whereas closing the space.
Kovalev already adopts some use of feints in his recreation, most notably the step feint and faux throwing the best hand only to end up throwing an influence jab as an alternative. They have been efficient towards less smarter and fewer athletic opponents, but he needs to be a bit extra intelligent than that towards one of the smartest fighters in boxing.
It’ll be troublesome to get Ward to fall for these feints as he’ll doubtless just step out of punching range if he anticipates a transfer being made. It’s not inside Wards greatest pursuits to trade punches with Kovalev, so he may pot shot from the surface at unpredictable moments.
Ward often keeps his lead hand low, so the feint I see working towards Ward is the faking of the jab to the body but coming with the straight upstairs. In fact, timing is paramount for somebody who has such nice studying of physique language.
Andre Ward is sensible with the feints too…
But he makes use of his feints in a unique method than Kovalev. Ward’s major weapon? Like many great boxers, it’s his jab.
He uses his jab feints in a patient and calculated means that’s designed to lull his opponent’s to sleep. He’ll prod his lead hand out for quite a lot of reasons – measure range, set up his proper hand or hook off the jab, distract his opponent, reposition his opponent and so on.
Ward measures up and baits Kessler together with his jab before touchdown his straight right.
Ward may additionally occassionally throw the lead cross as a feint and lunge in with an influence jab. It’s a bit dangerous and goes towards boxing fundamentals but Ward’s velocity, timing and the very fact he all the time keeps his rear guard glued to his face, has up to now overruled any risks.
With that being stated, the jab is Ward’s best weapon by far and it’s closely ingrained in his fashion. The query isn’t if Kovalev will probably be bothered by it, but moderately how will Kovalev nullify it?
The artwork of shifting is an extended forgotten method in boxing (no less than in the West). There aren’t many boxers that successfully make use of this boxing method. Off the highest of my head, I can solely identify a number of from current years – Dmitry Pirog, Gennady Golovkin, Vasyl Lomachenko and Sergey Kovalev – all fighters from the Soviet Union.
Kovalev lands the straight left from a southpaw stance after shifting from orthodox.
Shifting entails switching stances in a pure and fluid movement whereas simultaneously punching to shut the space between you and your opponent; nevertheless it may also be carried out on the within to transfer physique weight to generate extra energy. It requires calculated foot motion, good punch selection and information of distance to tug it off.
Kovalev shifts from the surface and mid-range pretty effectively. He does this by throwing the straight and stepping forward together with his rear foot at the similar time which closes the space, and then he brings a strong southpaw cross into play.
Kovalev will get countered by Pascal whereas shifting.
The problem with this is that Kovalev throws his initial straight proper with a lot pressure that he ends up being off stability when he misses. This is the place Ward can take advantage and counterpunch, maybe even scoring an imbalance knockdown. Nevertheless, this maneuver might be so deceptive so it’s something Ward has to watch out for.
Ward’s Southpaw Stance
Though it might look the same, switching stances is just not the same as shifting. For one, you needn’t be punching while switching stances and two, there’s often no quick results after switching.
Andre Ward in all probability does and has shifted earlier than nevertheless it’s not likely included into his arsenal; preventing from a southpaw stance is. In Ward’s earlier fights, he’d change to southpaw more typically nevertheless it has been rare in his newer fights.
Will Ward change southpaw towards Kovalev?
It might lessen the effectiveness of Kovalev’s proper hand and make it simpler for Ward to land his straight left, since he has the velocity advantage. Nevertheless, I don’t assume this example will come into play a lot as Kovalev hasn’t actually shown any actual weaknesses towards southpaws.
The range at which this struggle shall be fought at might be a significant factor. Kovalev does his greatest work at mid-range but has hassle when the struggle takes place inside; and regardless of displaying some flaws in his bout with Isaac Chilemba, I don’t truly assume Kovalev is dangerous towards outdoors boxers.
It’s possible that he underestimated Chilemba and in addition felt the strain of getting to impress his hometown crowd. I consider Kovalev has a very good understanding of the right way to management range as his offense and defense is essentially based mostly around his footwork fairly than his upper body motion or blocking talents.
Kovalev has already gone on document to say Ward can be a very robust battle so I doubt he’ll be underestimating him. Ward has proven that he can battle at any range he pleases. He can pose problems for Kovalev on the inside and he can potshot and counterpunch from the surface. He’s so nimble so Kovalev could have a troublesome time chasing him down.
If Ward needs to battle the right battle, he’ll have to take it inside at occasions since that’s where Kovalev is the least harmful, and at different occasions snipe from the surface using his velocity and timing.
Controlling the Pace of the Struggle
Can Andre Ward decelerate the tempo of the battle so he can assume and arrange his strikes?
Can Sergey Kovalev pressure Ward to work at a excessive tempo and stop him from considering an excessive amount of?
These are two crucial questions that may determine how the struggle plays out if it will get to the championship rounds. Each fighters are most snug at a measured tempo and we’ve seen what can occur if they should exert extra power than ordinary.
Ward was visibly tiring and getting sloppy in the 11th and 12th rounds towards a relentless Carl Froch, however he managed to get by means of them with lots of holding and a bit of foot motion.
Froch is best at forcing the pace than Kovalev as confirmed by his history of approaching robust in later rounds, BUT Kovalev is greater and stronger than Froch, and Ward will instantly really feel the difference.
Then again, Kovalev started to tire towards Chilemba from around the eighth spherical onwards however he still completed robust (and even had him harm!), identical to he did in his only other 12th rounder towards Hopkins. It was Kovalev’s first time in 6 years preventing in front of his hometown crowd towards a heavy underdog – might nerves and underestimation of his opponent been causes for his stamina issues? Probably.
We already know what Kovalev goes to do…
By no means stop coming forward. The question is what is going to Ward attempt to do?
Will he attempt to slow down the pace of the battle to make it more snug for himself, or will he expose himself to more dangers and press the battle to make it extra uncomfortable for Kovalev within the later rounds?
I feel it’s doubtless that Ward will play it protected with the former choice and if it does go down the stretch, I truthfully consider Ward will get increasingly uncomfortable as Kovalev gets increasingly determined making an attempt to knock Ward out.
There are several types of counterpunches in boxing, and usually, Kovalev and Ward are several types of counterpunchers to each other.
Ward is the “wait for you to punch first, make you miss then make you pay” counterpuncher; while Kovalev is more of the “time your punch precisely and punch with you at the same time” counterpuncher.
Kovalev completely occasions his straight over Mohammedi’s jab.
The velocity and reflex benefit goes to Ward, so if Kovalev does need to catch Ward, he has the suitable counterpunching type to do it –be aggressive and when Ward punches back, time and punch with him as a result of if he waits too lengthy, Ward will almost all the time get off first then escape.
You can’t play the “patient boxer” recreation with Ward. It will be naive to take action.
Ward will in all probability try to counteract Kovalev’s aggression by making him walk onto counters. The one time when it’s comparatively protected for Ward to go punch-for-punch is when he’s on the inside; doing so at mid-range can be extremely risky.
Ward counters Kessler with an influence jab and follows up with one other.
The factor about aggressive energy punchers is that for those who take away their aura of power, whether by taking away their capacity to land a punch or just by with the ability to take their greatest punches, then more often than not they get discouraged. If Kovalev will get gun-shy because of Ward’s counters, then that’s a huge psychological victory for Ward.
I’ve already coated the space control facet of defense for each fighters however with regard to all different elements – blocking, slipping, parrying, ducking and rolling beneath punches – Ward takes the cake simply.
Some highlights of Andre Ward’s protection and vary management by haNZAgod.
I don’t assume there’s any doubt that Ward will make Kovalev miss…so much. However we’ve seen how Kovalev deals with defensive minded opponents in Hopkins and Chilemba. Granted, Ward is younger and more defensively responsible than them however he’ll nonetheless get hit.
The goal is for him to take the steam off the punches as a lot as potential, however can he do it persistently for 12 rounds? When Ward does get hit and if he can’t take the facility, no quantity of protection will save him.
Kovalev isn’t an entire stiff…
However he’s typically caught with foolish photographs by standing straight up and not shifting his head. Like Ward, Kovalev likes to keep his lead hand low and is vulnerable to proper arms for many who dare attempt. Jean Pascal and Isaac Chilemba landed their justifiable share, so it’s protected to say Ward will too.
Kovalev will get countered time and again by Pascal’s proper hand.
We already know protection isn’t Kovalev’s robust level. We know Ward will land punches. What we don’t know yet is that if Kovalev’s defensive flaws will value him towards Ward; not when it comes to Ward’s punching energy, however with regard to accumulation of punches.
Kovalev has shown his capacity to take onerous punches and hold coming ahead, so if Ward needs to scale back the strain, he has to land clear punches early and sometimes, whereas on the back foot and shifting forward (placing Kovalev on the again foot). This will have a psychological influence on Kovalev if Ward is ready to land at any distance.
Other Major Elements
Although Andre Ward is shifting up from Tremendous Middleweight, he naturally fills out into a healthy Mild Heavyweight. Nevertheless, Kovalev is an enormous and powerful LHW and regardless that they’re each listed as the same peak of 6 ft., Kovalev’s body is greater.
Why does this matter at all?
Properly, for starters Ward has been used to muscling round SMWs so he’ll not be capable of impose himself bodily on LHW without exerting more power. This was evident in his with Sullivan Barrera where Ward was met with great resistance each time he tried to muscle him round.
I think he gained’t be capable of muscle the bigger Kovalev round with any actual consistency so that already diminishes one facet of Ward’s boxing strategy.
Fortuitously, Ward can fall again on the various other sides of his recreation, though I do consider that pushing Kovalev back and forcing him battle on the back foot will give Ward a big psychological edge.
Taking a Punch
Lastly…probably the most conclusive factor of this entire battle (at the very least for my part!).
The query on everyone’s minds is “can Ward handle Kovalev’s power?”.
It’s probable that the answer is NO. However then once more, no LHW on the planet can take a flush shot from Kovalev without getting harm. Even extremely sturdy fighters with wonderful chins like Pascal, Hopkins and Chilemba have been put down and harm.
Andre Ward suffered his first and solely knockdown in his profession towards robust veteran Darnell Boone.
Clearly Ward is sensible and knows to not check his chin. He’ll pull out all his defensive maneuvers to keep away from taking a flush shot from Kovalev. However the factor is, even grazing photographs from Kovalev has an effect on individuals.
Opposite to what some might imagine, Ward doesn’t have a weak chin nevertheless it’s also not granite, and he’ll get hit towards Kovalev; it’s inevitable.
I’m not confident enough to say that Ward gained’t get caught and harm by one in every of Kovalev’s punches. If that does happen, his survival instincts and recuperating talents will come into play; something we’ve got not often seen from the master boxer.
Ward just isn’t a feather fisted puncher…
Despite only having somewhat over a 50% knockout ratio, Ward hits more durable than most people give him credit for; mainly as a result of his precision, timing and hand velocity. Typically, he slaps together with his punches – notably the left hook – as an alternative of turning his knuckles over and rotating his entire body into it. He’d in all probability have a number of more knockouts if he did.
Nevertheless, a pure boxer like Ward not often likes to over decide to his punches in case he leaves himself too exposed. Regardless, Ward nonetheless managed to buzz some strong SMWs and dropped a LHW (extra of a flash knock down) so I’m positive he’s capable of buzz Kovalev too with a wonderfully timed and placed punch.
It might be ok to make Kovalev a bit extra cautious of coming ahead but I doubt it might be a critical deterrence until he persistently lands these punches.
The Most Doubtless End result?
I almost all the time favour the fighter with the higher boxing IQ and expertise, however this battle is a particular case of factors that could be troublesome for the better skilled boxer Ward to overcome.
Also, I don’t assume many people realise just how sneaky Kovalev is together with his set ups. To the untrained eye, they’re exhausting to acknowledge when watching on TV and even more durable to learn in an actual battle.
However for me, the deciding issue of this battle isn’t who has the higher boxing expertise as a result of they’re each premier in their very own proper, neither is it who has the higher stamina because they’ve each shown the power to battle arduous by means of 12 rounds – it’s whether or not or not Ward can handle Kovalev’s punching power.
I don’t assume Ward can keep away from getting hit cleanly for 12 rounds; his defense – although great – isn’t Mayweather or Whitaker great, and I don’t consider Ward is as durable as guys like Hopkins, Pascal and Chilemba.
Ward will probably be flustered by the first clean punch that lands and might be even more cautious from that time on. Sadly, I feel it’ll just be a matter of time earlier than another shot lands and with each passing punch that lands on Ward, any of them is usually a potential recreation changer.
After much deliberating, making instances for each fighters and altering my thoughts several occasions; I’m now leaning a lot more in the direction of Sergey Kovalev to win by stoppage, and I might not be stunned if it comes early or late.
This is such an ideal boxing match and doubtless the most effective that may be made this yr, and the winner deserves to be catapulted to the top of the P4P rankings.
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