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Ward, Kovalev Conference Calls Showcase Differences In Character

Posted on 06/08/2017

Ward, Kovalev Conference Calls Showcase Differences In Character
By: Sean Crose

Kovalev: “I hate him.”

Ward: “He’s a good fighter.”

Kovalev: “He didn’t deserve this belt.”

Ward: “It doesn’t take a close decision to get criticism.”

Kovalev: “I want to punish him.”


Andre Ward. Sergey Kovalev. Two men. Two highly regarded light heavyweights. Opponents. Enemies. Individuals with completely different ways of going about things. Kovalev, who goes by the name of Krusher, has no use for Ward, who squeaked by with a win against him via a controversial decision last fall. Now, with a rematch closing in, the Russian is a man on a mission. “I have a really big motivation for this fight,” he said during a Tuesday conference call. “I want to get back my belt.”

Ward himself had a lot to say during his own Wednesday conference call, but the two media calls couldn’t be further apart. Kovalev, for instance, was all business on Tuesday. Personable, sure (he’s actually a personable guy, Kovalev), but all business. Ward, on the other hand, was eager to talk about things outside of boxing on Wednesday. A religious man, Ward spoke frequently about God and about his own less than showy nature. “At the end of the day,” he said, “I just have to be me.”

Ironically enough, the Ward-Kovalev rematch, which will go down in Vegas a week from Saturday, looks to be the last time the two men will meet in the ring. That might be a shame. The fighters are so different that they make interesting opposition. Yet there’s intense dislike in play between the two fighter’s camps. “No more rematch clause,” promoter Kathy Duva claimed. “This is it.” Here’s hoping Andre-Sergey 2 brings some closure to the whole saga. “There’s no obligation,” Duva reiterated, “for there to be a rematch.”

With that in mind, it’s worth wondering if the two Ward-Kovalev matches will have as little in common as the fighters themselves do. I asked Kovalev trainer John David Jackson if he felt team Ward might make adjustments this time around. “They may,” Jackson said. Yet he made it clear he felt there wasn’t much Ward could do. “What adjustments can Ward make?” he asked. “He can’t get much more ready than he is now.” The respected trainer then indicated that Ward will change his performance at his own risk, stating that if Ward fights differently, “he’s playing Russian Roulette and he’s going to get clipped.”

For his own part, Ward trainer Eric Hunter had his own take on what’s to come. “As for this rematch,” he claimed on Wednesday, “all I can say is, oh boy.”

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