Monday, May 29, 2023  |


Kovalev upset over apparent snub by Ward

Photo by: Khristopher Sandifer/Roc Nation Sports
Fighters Network

Sergey Kovalev’s light heavyweight championship against Andre Ward on Nov. 19 on HBO PPV is perhaps the best matchup that boxing can offer at the moment.

But it had nothing to do with the way the fighters felt about the other — no bad blood seemed to exist — until Wednesday’s press conference, when Kovalev indicated he was upset with Ward for apparently snubbing his attempt to shake hands or say hello before the two met on stage for the start of the press gathering.

“I respect this guy, yes,” Kovalev told a small group of reporters on Wednesday. “But when I saw him this morning, he didn’t even say to me, ‘Hi.’ F-k him. I will always have respect (outside the ring) and in the ring I will use all my power to kick his ass.”

Asked a follow-up to describe the brief encounter and exactly what happened, Kovalev responded tersely, “I don’t know, I said ‘Hi.’ He didn’t say to me, ‘Hi.’ And he passed straight (in front of me). What happened? Nothing?”

Not surprisingly, Ward had a slightly different take on what happened and seemed surprised that Kovalev would take issue with their brief interaction. “We passed each other in the hallway but I don’t know if he’s expecting me to stop and shake his hand,” Ward said. “But that’s not going to happen. I feel like I gave him a head nod and I felt like he gave me one, too. But I don’t know what else they’re looking for. Guys look for reasons to not like a guy or get motivated and I’m cool with that. He has to do what he’s got to do.”

Ward described another time he and Kovalev crossed paths after his easy victory against Alexander Brand on Aug. 6 at Oracle Arena in Oakland. “We saw each pass in the hallway,” Ward said. “That’s it. That’s the only time I’ve seen him up close and personal (until Wednesday). I have no idea what he’s talking about. But that’s cool. He can kick it off now. Like, we’re not cool. If he wants to kick it off and find a reason to get motivated, that’s cool. We’re getting ready to fight. We’re not friends or buddies or on the same team.”

After the press conference, Kovalev and Ward engaged in the ceremonial stare-down. The two locked eyes and kept the glare going even after officials told them to separate and face photographers. The two smiled at each other, a respectful grin as they posed for the media. A few moments later, the two shook hands on stage and went their separate ways.

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