Tuesday, March 28, 2023  |


Predictions: Experts lean toward Andre Ward over Sergey Kovalev

Fighters Network


Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev accomplished very little on November 19 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Ward emerging with a highly controversial unanimous decision that raised more questions than it answered.

They meet again on Saturday at Mandalay Bay Events Center in the same town, where each will try to separate himself from the other.

Who wins this time? The experts lean toward Ward. Twenty-one RING experts and other boxing insiders made predictions here, 14 opting for Ward and seven picking Kovalev. Among those who write for THE RING, Ward had just an 8-6 edge (see chart below).

Here is how the RING experts and the others see the fight playing out.



I thought Sergey Kovalev clearly won the first fight. In my view, Andre Ward was competitive over the second half but he did not dominate to the extent that he needed to in order to legitimately win the fight. Did Ward figure Kovalev out down the stretch of fight No. 1? He figured him out enough not to get hit with as many jabs and right hands. But that doesn’t mean Ward’s got “Krusher kryptonite” going into bout No. 2. I’m sure both fighters will be better prepared this time and both will try to make adjustments, but how much can either change in just seven months (at this stage of their careers)? They’re the same fighters in the same style matchup. All we can hope for is that both take more chances. Either way, I think Kovalev is the better boxer.


I was one of those who predicted Ward would outclass Kovalev and then received a rude awakening on fight night. Ward remains an excellent boxer but he is no longer the dominating fighter who won the Super Six World Boxing Classic in 2011. And Kovalev is better than some believed. So where does that leave us? I’m going to pick Ward again, albeit in another competitive fight. I think Ward, who remains as clever as ever, finished strongly in the second half of the first fight because he made adjustments after struggling in the early rounds. I’m guessing that he now knows what it takes to beat Kovalev and still has more than enough ability to get it done. He’ll win a unanimous – and not controversial – decision.


Call me a hater, but I expect a fight even uglier than the first. I thought Kovalev won it, but I also saw a style matchup that was settling into something excruciating to watch. And I think it’ll pick up right where it left off. Kovalev might try to be “smarter,” as he has said, or he might give in to the dark side and let the hate flow through him, but neither will result in much action. Ward will neutralize his attacks with little regard for entertainment value, spin to Kovalev’s flank and fire off enough flurries to sway the judges. I’ll hope for “Empire Strikes Back,” but we all know sequels usually suck and this original was never that good to begin with.


Kovalev looks out of sorts already. He’s full of excuses — he overtrained for the first fight, Ward hit him low and fought dirty — and it seems Ward is in the Russian’s head. It’s hard to say if he truly is, but Ward is the more cerebral fighter, and traditionally, that bodes well in a rematch. After all, the Olympic gold medalist won the majority of the last six rounds after some key adjustments, and it figures to be more of the same this time. Chiefly, it was Ward’s sharp overhand right that took away Kovalev’s key weapon — the jab. Kovalev will have his moments, but Ward should cruise to a close but clear decision. And if Kovalev fights angry, a stoppage wouldn’t be a shocker. Either way, don’t count on any controversy this time around.


Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. I thought Ward would school Kovalev last November and I couldn’t have been more wrong. The hard-hitting Russian has superb judgement of distance and timing, which Ward really struggled with, particularly in the first half. I foresee a similar tactical battle with neither man getting things all their own way. I doubt Kovalev will make the mistake of switching off down the stretch, like he did last time, and his offense will be a bit more elaborate over the course. Ward is a brilliant fighter but Kovalev is the sentimental favorite this time. A close fight is likely to go his way.


Adjustments will have to be made by both fighters for someone to dominate. In the case of Ward, he has tasted Kovalev’s power and found it bitter, which will likely keep him on guard and on the defensive early because he was in significant trouble when he got off the floor in Round 2 of the first fight. Kovalev knows he blew his advantage by being too cautious early and running out of gas emotionally and physically in the second half of the fight. He appeared to do enough to win a decision but not by much and so he didn’t get the nod. This is again a tossup, but Kovalev has the superior power and is more skilful than he appears. Ward is the better boxer but didn’t seem able to hurt Kovalev, which may prove to become a problem. Kovalev claims he over-trained for the first fight and it cost him. He won’t need an excuse this time to explain away the result.


It’ll be close, too close to call. A draw might be the safe pick. But the guess is that the contentious debate after Andre Ward’s decision over Kovalev is a factor hard to measure, yet enough to tip the scorecard scales in favor of the Russian. That means it’ll be controversial again, but for different reasons. Kovalev will be as dangerous as ever early, especially with the right that dropped Ward in the first fight. Fool Kovalev once, but not twice. He’ll go after Ward if he can. He won’t let him off the hook. But Ward ‘s chin is more durable than many suspect. He’ll survive, forcing Kovalev into adjustments many suspect he can’t make. He’ll make enough of them for just enough points for a different result, yet the same controversy.


Whoever wins the first fight usually wins the second fight more easily, or at least that’s what people say. I tend to believe that also, which is why I’m picking Sergey Kovalev, the fighter whom I thought won the first fight, to win the rematch also, and probably by decision after the outrage over the verdict the first time. But I wouldn’t count out Ward, he is as smart as they come and found ways to make his body punching a factor late. I just like Kovalev if he can stick to boxing, outjab Ward and keep him fighting from behind.


I was one of many who thought Sergei Kovalev edged the first fight, by a round plus knockdown bonus, but believe Andre Ward has more ability to change and better his performance, alhough I argued Kovalev was not given enough credit for his boxing ability in the lead up last time. There is a possibility Kovalev over-trains or is too focused on punishing instead of just beating Ward in the rematch. Anyone who reaches against Ward is punished immediately, and I can envision Kovalev chasing too hard, thus running into traps and counters continuously because of forward momentum. Again, it will be close, but the opposite will happen as Kovalev will close strong but will be unable to corner or land the decisive blow. Give me Ward by unanimous decision and a three-point advantage on all cards.


I thought Andre Ward won his first fight against Sergey Kovalev and I believe he’ll make it easier the second time around. Kovalev was on his way to winning the first bout with a steady, disciplined attack, but this time around, he will be so intent on making a statement and getting the knockout that he will instead become the bull to Ward’s matador. The result will be a 12-round boxing lesson that may not be thrilling but will leave no doubt as to who the winner is.


For all of the heated rhetoric between the two during the buildup, I believe the emotions will not carry over into the fight. Both are veterans who know that overheated emotions make for sloppy and easily defeated fighters. Besides, both are thinking-man’s fighters anyway. Kovalev had Ward dead to rights at the halfway point of fight one but for whatever reason “Krusher” allowed it to slip away just enough for Ward to slip through and snatch away the controversial win. With 12 rounds under his belt against Kovalev, 12 rounds of video to study and 12 fresh rounds to implement his adjustments, Ward will find a way to win this fight on points in more convincing fashion.


Having shared 12 rounds together last November both fighters know first hand what the other’s ring attributes are. Ward got off the canvas to win a close unanimous decision by a single point on all three scorecards. It was the most hotly debated fight in years. We know Kovalev has the power to hurt Ward but Ward is one of the most cerebral fighters in boxing today. I expect both to have their moments; it’ll be closely contested. Ward will try to get in close and nullify Kovalev’s power and I think he’ll do that. Kovalev will be the aggressor and press Ward throughout. This might be the difference. It will again go to the scorecards, but this time I think Kovalev will prevail by a close, split and maybe controversial decision.


Early on in their first fight, Sergey Kovalev had a hand speed edge. He was catching an Andre Ward who looked like maybe his reflexes were acting their age. Then, after a knockdown, Ward woke up. He adapted. He got more aggressive. And Kovalev’s edge was gone. The Russian tells us that’s because he over-trained, and his energy reservoir went dry at the midway point. It is plausible. So this one, of course, looks like a coin-flip fight. Whereas I was thinking a month ago that Round 1 will look like Rounds 6-12, tilt to Ward, now I’m less sure. Maybe the Kovalev hand speed edge can be maintained. Maybe. I lean Ward, believing that again his ability to adapt will prove the difference.


Ward leaves no doubt this time. He knows the mistakes he made the first time and terribly exposed Kovalev as a one-trick pony, in a sense. Granted, it’s one painful, hell of a trick, but Ward is too smart to get caught again and get into the trouble he was in during the previous fight. Ward landed the higher percentage of total punches (34.4 percent to 26.6 percent), landed a higher percentage of jabs (32.75 to 19.8) and a higher percentage of power shots (36.1 to 33.6).




A good fight that I didn’t think would happen is here. Although there is not a lot of buzz on the fight, I think it will be a better fight then the first one. The first fight was there for Kovalev to win but he surprisingly gassed out early and that gave Ward the chance to take control. With that said, I believe both learned from that fight and of course will have made the needed changes to perform better. Ward wants to win clearly and Kovalev wants revenge. I see a more exciting fight and I will go with Sergey Kovalev to sustain an aggressive attack and maintain the pace and pressure to win this one on a unanimous decision.


I think it’s gonna go the same kind of way, I don’t see anything changing with either guy. Kovalev claimed last time that he over-trained, which happens on occasion. A lot of people thought Kovalev won the first fight but I didn’t; I saw Andre Ward winning. Kovalev had a big second round because of the knockdown but other than that Andre got into his rhythm, and he took Kovalev out of his rhythm, and I kind of see the same thing happening. I don’t see what either guy can do differently, I think it’s going to be another close fight because of the styles. To me it’s a pick ’em fight. It’s a tough, tough, ugly fight, that’s what it’s gonna be. I just see Andre Ward winning another close fight. I’m gonna say a split or majority decision.


It will be a close fight for the first part of the fight. Kovalev will apply a lot of pressure and not allow Ward to hold or at least he will try. However, Ward is very skilled and intelligent in the ring and he will adapt to anything Kovalev does. Ward will win clearly this time. I believe a decision by Ward 117-111.


I feel in the first fight Ward was very rusty and took a few rounds to sort things out. This time Ward is crisp and sharp and knows exactly what to expect. One dimensional fighters like Sergey Kovalev do not beat Andre Ward. Speed and reflexes will be the difference. I see this fight as an extension of the last seven rounds of the first fight. I saw the same thing as lot of people, Ward made adjustments to Kovalev’s style and pulled away in the last six, seven rounds. Kovalev has one style only. Ward will exploit that and win a comfortable decision this time.


I’ve been looking forward to this one since there first meeting. Ward beat Kovalev at his own game, he outfought the stronger man on the inside and in the second half of there fight out-boxed him. I’m sure Ward has his number. Kovalev can’t fight inside; he has long arms so he has to keep it at range. Ward’s better movement and guts to mix it up when he has to and then switch his attack to the body seemed to confuse Kovalev. Repeat or revenge? For me, Ward wins a unanimous decision.


Ward likely outboxes him this time. I thought Kovalev did enough last time but Ward may pick up where he left off and win boring rounds. I prefer Kovalev’s action packed style but I’m afraid we will be more like Leonard-Duran II instead of I.


I thought Kovalev won the first fight. I’d really like to see justice this time but I get the feeling Ward will be a lot better having been in the ring with “Krusher” before. He’ll know what to expect. Ward on points.