Legendary trainer Freddie Roach said during a Friday interview with Fight Hype that Sergey Kovalev would “be too strong for” Andre Ward.
The 6-foot, 175-pound Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs) bruised, battered and bloodied the 5-foot-10, 174-pound Jean Pascal (30-4-1, 17 KOs) to successfully defend the WBA, IBF and WBO light heavyweight world titles last weekend at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. Roach, working in Pascal’s corner for the first time, compassionately halted the mismatch after the seventh round. Nicknamed the “Krusher,” the powerful Kovalev has now prevented 87% of his opponents from hearing the final bell.
In contrast to the extremely active 32-year-old Kovalev, the 31-year-old Ward (28-0, 15 KOs) has fought on three occasions since January 2012. Ward was scheduled to debut in the 175-pound light heavyweight division against Colombian Alexander Brand on November 21. However, Ward withdrew from the bout due to inflammation in his right knee.
Following a 19-month layoff, Ward finally returned to the squared circle on June 20 and earned a ninth round TKO over Paul Smith. Clashing at a catchweight limit of 172 pounds, the 6-foot, 172-pound Ward punished the 5-foot-11, 176-pound Smith (35-6, 20 KOs) until the flabby Englishman’s corner halted the bloodbath at 1:46 of the decisive frame.
Ward, a gold medalist as a light heavyweight at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, is tentatively slated to meet a tomato can named Sullivan Barrera on March 26 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. Following the mismatch against the 33-year-old Barrera (17-0, 12 KOs), speculation remains strong that Ward and Kovalev will meet in the fall.
“I like that fight a lot,” said Roach, 55, who has been voted Trainer of the Year on six occasions by the BWAA. “Ward is a great boxer. I would love to see that fight. I think Kovalev might be too strong for him, but Ward’s a good boxer. He’s good at what he does.”
A defensive artist who uses elite footwork, a steady jab, and ferocious left hook to dominate, Ward’s absorbed virtually no punishment as a professional and he hasn’t been conquered since he was a 12-year-old amateur. Although Kovalev is an incredibly fearsome competitor, Ward could neutralize the “Krusher’s” power, minimize his onslaughts, and dicate the bout’s tempo.
Regrettably for fans, Ward’s currently too busy monitoring his 401k and too unfocused on boxing to outscore Kovalev over 36 minutes. A truly elite talent, Ward’s apathy is maddening and he deserves all blame for wasting his prime and becoming an afterthought.
Kovalev is a unique bruiser who looks more dominant than ever. Conversely, Ward is rusting and clearly satisfied residing in Del Boca Vista.
In something of a lopsided affair, Sergey Kovalev would prove to “be too strong for” Andre Ward.