Saturday night in Las Vegas will be another big fight night as the light heavyweights have a score to settle. Andre Ward defeated Sergey Kovalev in November in a highly controversial unanimous decision, which was so hotly contested that Kovalev wanted a rematch almost immediately. The Russian will get his chance at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Here’s our preview of that boxing betting match:
What To Know About Andre Ward
Ward (31-0, 15 KO) showed a lot of heart in the first fight against Kovalev as he was definitely losing early on and was even knocked down in the second round. However, he utilized his gameplan of getting inside on Kovalev and eventually took a unanimous decision to win the WBA (Undisputed), IBF and WBO light heavyweight titles. He’ll put those on the line, and the two will also fight for the vacant WBO International light heavyweight title, and it was a tough fight for Ward, who fought three times in 2016 after fighting three times from 2012 to 2015. After he was knocked down against Kovalev, Ward did what he does: he used his intelligence and got inside on Kovalev, not allowing the Russian to dial up his huge punching power. Ward is one of the smartest boxers in the game in any division, and he is also very strong.
What To Know About Sergey Kovalev
Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KO) is obviously a firm believer that he won the fight and he was definitely on top early, but Ward’s inside game seemed to wear him down later in the fight and he didn’t have the same energy that he had before. Kovalev is an incredibly powerful puncher as shown by his 26 knockouts, but he isn’t just a power puncher. He has shown great ring presence and knows how to cut off the ring so that he can almost corner his opponent, and then he lets his hands go. The biggest problem for the Russian is that he looked frustrated in the first Ward fight when his Oakland opponent kept getting inside on him, and Kovalev prefers a fight where the two stand in front of each other. That is something he’ll have to work on when heading into the second fight.
Ward comes into this fight as a -160 favorite to win the rematch, with Kovalev coming in at +135, and those are good odds with someone of Kovalev’s punching power. He can end a fight quickly with one or two punches, but he has to be careful that he doesn’t gas out trying to follow it up. However, Ward has shown that he can take Kovalev’s punches and keep going, and not only that, Ward didn’t panic and stuck with his game plan, which shows a lot of poise. He is smart enough to stay out of Kovalev’s range, while Kovalev’s chance to win comes from a knockout, because he isn’t going to outbox Ward, who should win in another unanimous decision, and the decision won’t be as close this time after Ward and his team go back to the lab and finetune their plan.
Boxing Betting Pick: Ward
If you’re looking for the boxing betting lines, Shangri La has the latest odds for the Ward-Kovalev fight.