Andre Ward and Brand both make weight as Kovalev set to attend
Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev will be under the same roof on Saturday. But they won’t be in the same ring.
Instead, Ward (29-0, 15 knockouts) is facing 39-year-old Alexander Brand Saturday on HBO (10:30 p.m. ET) at Oracle Arena in Ward’s hometown of Oakland, California. Light heavyweight unified champion Kovalev is expected to be in attendance and surely the HBO cameras will be trained on the action in the ring, as well as the expressions on Kovalev’s impassive face.
That’s because if Ward, 32, gets by Brand, which he is expected to do with little trouble, he and Kovalev have a signed agreement to face off on Nov. 19 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on HBO PPV in probably the most significant fight of 2016.
Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) took the first step toward making that fight a reality by winning a sluggish decision against Isaac Chilemba in Russia last month. Ward took the next step, albeit a baby one, by making weight on Friday by coming in at the contracted limit of 175 pounds while Colombia’s Brand (25-1, 19 KOs) tipped the scales at 173.2 pounds.
“I’m excited about the future,” Ward said at Thursday’s press conference. “I want to be the light heavyweight champion of the world, a two division champion. Everyone knows that, but it’s impossible for me to overlook this man (Brand). This man is coming, this is his Super Bowl.”
Ward, a 2004 U.S. Olympic gold medalist, has spent the past several weeks trying to convince anyone who will listen he’s taking Brand seriously and not focusing on his fight with Kovalev. He can see the fight with Kovalev. It’s just around the corner. But he doesn’t want to make the mistake of neglecting Brand and suffering a hiccup on Saturday.
“I’m not thinking of Sergey Kovalev,” Ward told RingTV.com in the run-up to the fight. “I’m thinking of Alexander Brand. That’s it. That’s how my mind works. On Aug. 7, we can talk about Kovalev.”