When Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward fought last year, I was providing round-by-round updates and analysis for a major website. As a result, I could not watch it live in a manner that allowed me to accurately score it. When the final bell rang, I felt I had just watched a brilliantly waged battle between two elite talents. But I did not have a strong opinion about the winner.
When all three scores were read 114-113, I assumed they would be for Kovalev–six rounds each and Kovalev winning on the strength of his early knockdown. Instead, all three judges had the fight seven rounds to five for Ward.
When I watched the fight a second time, scoring it, I indeed had the fight six even, with Kovalev taking a one-point decision, thanks to his knockdown.
But it’s tough to call a fight that close a robbery. And I could see rounds I scored for Kovalev that could have gone for Ward, especially for a judge sitting a particular spot ringside.
Heading into that fight, I had predicted a decision victory for Ward. And even though I thought Kovalev deserved the decision last time, I am predicting a decision victory for Ward again, this time by a clearer margin.
Andre Ward took control over the second half of the last fight. Kovalev fought hard and hung tough and even managed to win a round or two in the second half of the fight, but the momentum was all shifting to Ward. Ward was the fighter who looked like he was fighting his fight. Kovalev was gamely, even skillfully, trying to keep up. But Ward was clearly winning down the stretch.
Kovalev was a stronger, far more powerful opponent than anybody Ward had previously faced. It makes sense that he struggled some in the early going. But he survived those struggles and looked to have figured Kovalev out.
That’s not to say Kovalev won’t come out this time with his own adjustments. He is known as a monster puncher, but he is a patient and methodical boxer, as well. I would not advise betting money you can’t afford to lose on Ward.
But writers love to make picks and so I am picking Andre Ward–116-112 in another expertly fought, back-and-forth struggle.