If You’re Pulling For Ward, Kovalev Didn’t Scare You Off

Kovalev vs Ward Preview – The July 11 bout between Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and Isaac “Golden Boy” Chilemba at the DIVS Sports Palace in Ekaterinburg, Russia, was supposed to be an indicator bout, but it wasn’t. The 12-round fight for the WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Titles didn’t shed much light on what to make of Kovalev-Ward this coming November – other than confirming that Sergey can still punch pretty good. Without seeing Ward 29-0 (15), who fights Alexander Brand 25-1 (19) next month, nothing can be etched in stone.

Also, it says something about both Ward and Kovalev 30-0-1 (26) that they both agreed to take on legitimate opponents before facing each other. With one fight out of the way and one to come before we can see the best fight that boxing has to offer this coming fall, Kovalev’s showing against Chilemba 24-4-2 (10) basically confirmed only one thing — and that is, if you were picking Ward to beat him, Sergey didn’t do anything to change your mind or scare you off of that pick.

Kovalev vs Ward Preview

Kovalev was bothered by Chilemba’s sporadic and pesky jab, and Isaac survived because he didn’t really try to fight it out and take Kovalev’s head off. He gave him some movement and every time he sensed there was a hole to fill in order to keep Sergey from walking him down, he popped a couple jabs and moved away, which bought him time. Kovalev dominated, but Chilemba potshotted him fairly effectively from the outside–enough so that Kovalev never got reckless, even though Chilemba can’t punch at all.  The first six rounds were relatively close. Then Kovalev knocked him down with a beautiful right hand, and it looked like the fight was going to be over.  The next round was bad for Chilemba too.  But then he came back, Kovalev looked really tired, and it actually looked for a while like he might have hit the wall.  But Chilemba didn’t have the ammunition to push things, so we never found out.

The right hand that dropped Chilemba was explosive and he hung on for dear life. I really thought Kovalev was going to finish him in the eighth round, but he couldn’t find enough openings without getting tied up. This is a scary thought if you’re rooting for Kovalev over Ward, because Ward is the father of shutting guys down and turning machine gun offenses into paintball guns. Chilemba was awkward, physically strong, and took a good shot.  But Kovalev looked flat, he got tired for no good reason that I could see, and at points it looked as if Sergey fought with a little trepidation that I hadn’t picked up on before. At one point Chilemba held him behind the head and hurt him with a right uppercut, and Kovalev put up with it — a dangerous sign for someone like Ward.  Ward won’t miss seeing that.

It’s hard to know whether Kovalev has lost something, had an off night, was overconfident, or just fought an awkward guy. But he didn’t look like the monster he’s being built up to be. However, this isn’t anything new for fighters going into a super fight. Larry Holmes was dropped by Renaldo Snipes and didn’t look overwhelming against Snipes in his bout prior to fighting Gerry Cooney in what would be the signature bout of Holmes’ stellar career. Conversely, in Cooney’s previous bout before facing Holmes, Gerry looked like the scariest heavyweight since George Foreman circa 1973-74 when he stopped faded contender Ken Norton in less than a minute. Yet when Larry and Gerry finally met, Holmes fought the most complete and purposeful bout of his life, winning via 13th round TKO.

What stands out about Kovalev’s showing versus Chilemba is that he didn’t look like the same life-taker we’re used to seeing. And for someone who was leaning toward Kovalev, it’s a little troublesome. Had Kovalev and Ward fought each other this weekend, being that I had to make a pick, I would’ve leaned toward Kovalev. Without seeing Ward yet, all I can say is that I’m not as sure now as I was. But the fight is four months away so I won’t read too much into Sergey’s showing against Chilemba without seeing Ward fight Brand.

The only thing I can say for sure is that Andre Ward does everything better than Isaac Chilemba, and Sergey certainly wasn’t overwhelming. With that said I think the result and aftermath probably has Ward backers feeling a lot better about his chances than they did this time last week. But being a student of boxing for 50 years I know that styles and mental approach has a lot to do with a fighter’s showing. So before thinking I have the puzzle solved, I’ll wait for Ward to fight next month and try and acquire more data.

Kovalev vs Ward Preview / Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

COMMENTS

-oubobcat :

As a lot of folks know on here, I have been a Kovalev fan for a long time. Last night's performance actually got me more excited for the Ward fight. Why? Well I am 100% convinced Kovalev destroys Ward and this fight (along's with Ward's in a couple weeks) will certainly swing the Vegas odds to Ward. When I lay my wager down on this one, the payoff just got a little sweeter. I had a sense coming in Kovalev would not look great. Chilemba is an awkward guy who gives tough fights to top fighters. He is never easily beaten and has shown a good chin. He is not a cutie but just tough to fight and look good against. It was essentially the perfect tune up fight for a fighter going into a major fight. Chilemba pushed Kovalev and made Kovalev think to win. Kovalev faced adversity and will learn from the experience. Ward is going to look sensational against Brand. Brand is no Chilemba. Brands stands in front of his opponents, wings wide punches with no head movement and is an easy target. Ward is barely going to break a sweat. The money will come flying in on Ward afterward. I can't wait for this fight in November and to collect a nice winning ticket.


-deepwater2 :

As a lot of folks know on here, I have been a Kovalev fan for a long time. Last night's performance actually got me more excited for the Ward fight. Why? Well I am 100% convinced Kovalev destroys Ward and this fight (along's with Ward's in a couple weeks) will certainly swing the Vegas odds to Ward. When I lay my wager down on this one, the payoff just got a little sweeter. I had a sense coming in Kovalev would not look great. Chilemba is an awkward guy who gives tough fights to top fighters. He is never easily beaten and has shown a good chin. He is not a cutie but just tough to fight and look good against. It was essentially the perfect tune up fight for a fighter going into a major fight. Chilemba pushed Kovalev and made Kovalev think to win. Kovalev faced adversity and will learn from the experience. Ward is going to look sensational against Brand. Brand is no Chilemba. Brands stands in front of his opponents, wings wide punches with no head movement and is an easy target. Ward is barely going to break a sweat. The money will come flying in on Ward afterward. I can't wait for this fight in November and to collect a nice winning ticket.
Very good points. I want that ticket also!


-Radam G :

As a lot of folks know on here, I have been a Kovalev fan for a long time. Last night's performance actually got me more excited for the Ward fight. Why? Well I am 100% convinced Kovalev destroys Ward and this fight (along's with Ward's in a couple weeks) will certainly swing the Vegas odds to Ward. When I lay my wager down on this one, the payoff just got a little sweeter. I had a sense coming in Kovalev would not look great. Chilemba is an awkward guy who gives tough fights to top fighters. He is never easily beaten and has shown a good chin. He is not a cutie but just tough to fight and look good against. It was essentially the perfect tune up fight for a fighter going into a major fight. Chilemba pushed Kovalev and made Kovalev think to win. Kovalev faced adversity and will learn from the experience. Ward is going to look sensational against Brand. Brand is no Chilemba. Brands stands in front of his opponents, wings wide punches with no head movement and is an easy target. Ward is barely going to break a sweat. The money will come flying in on Ward afterward. I can't wait for this fight in November and to collect a nice winning ticket.
Don't be so quick on the trigger. Kovalev was playing possum. He could have kayoed Chilemba at any point. Holla!


-oubobcat :

I just checked the odds and the fight is currently listed at -115 for each. My guess is after Ward's fight with Brand that Ward will be positioned as the favorite. I see him settling right around the -150 to -165 range with Kovalev somewhere around +120 to +135. I'll be jumping all over Kovalev at those prices.


-Kid Blast :

Ward will school him. Too many skills, too many dimensions, deceptively borderline dirty, sneaky leads. But the one thing is does better than anyone else is punish his opponent during a clinch. Elbows, Butts, punches, whatever, they all help. The Russian will look confused at times as Ward beats him up and then possibly stops him in the late rounds. Think Kessler.


-Radam G :

Ward will school him. Too many skills, too many dimensions, deceptively borderline dirty, sneaky leads. But the one thing is does better than anyone else is punish his opponent during a clinch. Elbows, Butts, punches, whatever, they all help. The Russian will look confused at times as Ward beats him up and then possibly stops him in the late rounds. Think Kessler.
Great analysis. And I'm rolling with it. Holla!


-brownsugar :

Powerful Logo OB. Great read FL, I hate to say it. but I said over a year ago that Chelimba would give Kovalev a good fight. Kovalev won by a pretty fair margin, but Chelimba kept him honest... I actually thought the South African would do better. But if doing better means winning a couple of rounds and going the distance. Then the only fighter who may have exceeded Chelimba's efforts would have been Darnell Boone, the rampaging b-side journeyman with the losing record who put Adonis Stevenson to sleep and dropped Ward so hard, he recently admitted that he didn't remember winning the fight after he got up....not even the part where he got his hand raised. (Boone held Sergey to a split decision in their first fight, Kovalev got his revenge via 4th round stoppage in their second encounter if memory serves me correctly, Boone is currently one of Golovkin's chief sparring partners) Getting back to Chelimba. After watching Chelimba befuddle fast Eddie Chambers without getting hit I knew he was serious about the way practiced his craft. Under any other circumstances, if Chelimba had a better promotional push from his management team, the man would have already won one of the lightheavyweight titles two years ago. I read the complaints around the web, " Kovalev was gassed " , " Kovalev was extended by a bum ". Nothing could have been further from the truth. Kovalev simply got the ideal experience he needed to fight the crafty and illusive Andre Ward. Kovalev has no need to furnish the press with excuses. However You could tell that Kovalev had a huge adrenaline dump as a result of trying to please his hometown fans after having fought the most defining part of his proffessional career on the road. What a feeling it must have been to leave home a promising prospect, and return to his former stomping grounds as an international star. Kovalev kept his cool, made a minimum amount of mistakes and won in dominant fashion against a very cagey and highly motivated opponent. I'm more concerned about Ward than ever to be honest,.... but at the same time I feel that Ward and his team will make maximum use of the advanced Intel report. Still its gonna be a hard fight for Ward to win..... as a huge fan of Ward, its just way too soon to start sending out the invites for Wards' victory party just yet.


-King Beef :

Powerful Logo OB. Great read FL, I hate to say it. but I said over a year ago that Chelimba would give Kovalev a good fight. Kovalev won by a pretty fair margin, but Chelimba kept him honest... I actually thought the South African would do better. But if doing better means winning a couple of rounds and going the distance. Then the only fighter who may have exceeded Chelimba's efforts would have been Darnell Boone, the rampaging b-side journeyman with the losing record who put Adonis Stevenson to sleep and dropped Ward so hard, he recently admitted that he didn't remember winning the fight after he got up....not even the part where he got his hand raised. (Boone held Sergey to a split decision in their first fight, Kovalev got his revenge via 4th round stoppage in their second encounter if memory serves me correctly, Boone is currently one of Golovkin's chief sparring partners) Getting back to Chelimba. After watching Chelimba befuddle fast Eddie Chambers without getting hit I knew he was serious about the way practiced his craft. Under any other circumstances, if Chelimba had a better promotional push from his management team, the man would have already won one of the lightheavyweight titles two years ago. I read the complaints around the web, " Kovalev was gassed " , " Kovalev was extended by a bum ". Nothing could have been further from the truth. Kovalev simply got the ideal experience he needed to fight the crafty and illusive Andre Ward. Kovalev has no need to furnish the press with excuses. However You could tell that Kovalev had a huge adrenaline dump as a result of trying to please his hometown fans after having fought the most defining part of his proffessional career on the road. What a feeling it must have been to leave home a promising prospect, and return to his former stomping grounds as an international star. Kovalev kept his cool, made a minimum amount of mistakes and won in dominant fashion against a very cagey and highly motivated opponent. I'm more concerned about Ward than ever to be honest,.... but at the same time I feel that Ward and his team will make maximum use of the advanced Intel report. Still its gonna be a hard fight for Ward to win..... as a huge fan of Ward, its just way too soon to start sending out the invites for Wards' victory party just yet.
Damn good assessment B-Sug, I think this fight not being a easy walk over for Kovalev will probably make him that much tougher for Ward. He shouldn't get that "Tyson letdown" if the guy across from him is still there after a few rounds and taking a few good shots. How is Ward going to deal with in there with a true light heavy of Kovalev's power, and how Kovalev is going to deal with someone with Ward's skillset. Sergey definitely gets credit for handling B-Hop the way he did, a pushing 50 B-Hop and Ward are different threats. This should truly be a helluva fight, whoever takes this one will probably have to use everything tool in the toolbox. B-Sug, I haven't watched the fight yet, but I did see someone brought up Kovalev not looking effective fighting on the inside, which Ward seems to excel at. Did you notice anything??


-dollar bond :

I never for one minute thought Ward would lose to the Russian. Too skilled. Too ring savvy.


-brownsugar :

Damn good assessment B-Sug, I think this fight not being a easy walk over for Kovalev will probably make him that much tougher for Ward. He shouldn't get that "Tyson letdown" if the guy across from him is still there after a few rounds and taking a few good shots. How is Ward going to deal with in there with a true light heavy of Kovalev's power, and how Kovalev is going to deal with someone with Ward's skillset. Sergey definitely gets credit for handling B-Hop the way he did, a pushing 50 B-Hop and Ward are different threats. This should truly be a helluva fight, whoever takes this one will probably have to use everything tool in the toolbox. B-Sug, I haven't watched the fight yet, but I did see someone brought up Kovalev not looking effective fighting on the inside, which Ward seems to excel at. Did you notice anything??
I watched it twice KB, I though Kovakev was dominant, and very close to getting a KO at 4 different points in the fight. Nothing to be embarrassed about and certainly Kovalev was not exposed, although Chelimba did demonstrate what it takes to beat a fighter like Kovalev, good feints, constant head and lateral movement, and a busy offence with responsible defense which Chelimba could not sustain. Not many fighters can. Kovalev found it within himself to pour it on in the last round and almost get the KO, but Chelimba was a live dog... Ward is more than that, he's definitely in the fight and has an excellent chance to upset the Krusher. Kovalev choose the toughest fighter in the world to look good against.... which speaks to his commitment to besting Ward.


-Radam G :

I never for one minute thought Ward would lose to the Russian. Too skilled. Too ring savvy.
Ditto! Holla!


-brownsugar :

Damn good assessment B-Sug, I think this fight not being a easy walk over for Kovalev will probably make him that much tougher for Ward. He shouldn't get that "Tyson letdown" if the guy across from him is still there after a few rounds and taking a few good shots. How is Ward going to deal with in there with a true light heavy of Kovalev's power, and how Kovalev is going to deal with someone with Ward's skillset. Sergey definitely gets credit for handling B-Hop the way he did, a pushing 50 B-Hop and Ward are different threats. This should truly be a helluva fight, whoever takes this one will probably have to use everything tool in the toolbox. B-Sug, I haven't watched the fight yet, but I did see someone brought up Kovalev not looking effective fighting on the inside, which Ward seems to excel at. Did you notice anything??
Oh....the inside fight, .....against a volume puncher like Cleverly, Kovalev proved his limited skills as a decent inside fighter, but his stock and trade is medium to long range. I have always felt that if Ward kept low and got inside he could bring some serious offense to the hard punching Russian. And that's Ward's specialty, he was effective against Miranda, Dawson, Kessler, Froch and Bika using the same strategy.....swimming without getting wet. Can he excel against Kovalev using the same strategy?... without paying the high price for admission? ... To some degree yes, but can he substain this kind of attack,? This is what the world will tune in to see, and the number one tactic Kovalev is preparing for. But Ward can also switch and has a good long range game as well...... can't wait to see how this plays out.


-stormcentre :

Amongst some other considerations . . . 1Timing, 2"power" and 3reach; are what Ward must take away and/or diffuse to win. After all, what is Kov's without "power"? Let's face it, he's certainly not (usually) a points fighter. Furthermore;

A) To some extent the first two traits (1Timing, 2"power") are mutually inclusive to all three. B) With the second trait ("2power" {and I mean the top level power Sergey uses at a distance to set it all up}) closely tied and mutually inclusive to the first. C) With an argument possibly to made for "B" to include the third (3reach) also.

Over the weekend how Sergey ran out of steam (pay no attention to his claims he was unwell before the fight) to some extent relates what I stated about Triple and red blood cells here . .


->http://www.thesweetscience.com/forums/showthread.php?272162881-Gennady-Golovkin-vs-Kell-Brook-Be-Careful-What-You-Wish-For&p=100420&viewfull=1#post100420

My understanding is that Sergey, whom usually prepares and trains in Big Bear and/or Florida, usually incorporates some kind of hypoxia inducing regime whether it be via altitude or other oxygen restriction equipment. Either way, (and I know it's no crime) Sergey certainly ran out of gas last weekend, appeared (at times) easy to hit, and his jab lacked pop and perhaps (fast-handed) watermelon seeds. I agree also that Chelimba is a good/tough opponent; perhaps of the Bika/Miranda mold. No matter which way anyone spins it, this is not a great psychological way for Sergey to head into the bout with Ward. Finally, if we look here . . . .

4th paragraph (""please, someone - anyone - tell me technically what it is that Kovalev does . . . . . "");
->http://www.thesweetscience.com/forums/showthread.php?272162454-Kovalev-vs-Ward-is-the-Best-that-Boxing-has-to-Offer&p=99691&viewfull=1#post99691

I see that post is still lonely.
Storm. :) :)