It may not have caught the attention of the mainstream media but for boxing fans and purists alike the rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev can’t come soon enough.
A controversial first encounter was narrowly awarded to Ward (31-0,15KO) but many at ringside felt the contest was too close to call. Hence why Kovalev (30-1-1,26KO) is getting the chance to reclaim the WBA, WBO and IBF light-heavyweight belts in a match-up billed as ‘no excuses’.
The hard-hitting Russian was arguably unfortunate not to get the decision the first time around but how will this pound-for-pound sequel pan out?
We asked boxing trader Tommy Young to give us his pre-fight predictions…
Ladbrokes News: Talk us through the first fight and your initial feelings about which way the contest should have gone. Was the decision to award Ward the victory as controversial as some have made out?
Tommy Young: Once again these two pound-for-pound contenders will be going toe-to-toe, in the wake of last November’s controversial points win for Ward. All three judges scored the fight 114-113 in favour of Ward that night but many fight fans believed Kovalev deserved to get the nod and that the man from Kopeysk had been robbed.
In my opinion, it was an extremely close fight in which Kovalev dominated the first half of the fight, including scoring a knock down in the second round before Ward came on strong later on. I gave the fight to Kovalev by one round but it could easily have gone either way and was certainly not a robbery.
LN: Given how keenly contested the first fight was, do you think Ward is a worthy favourite in Las Vegas?
TY: Personally, I think that the 4/6 about Ward may be a little on the short side. Ward went off 4/7 for the first fight and while he was victorious there was very little in it.
The first fight showed the two are very evenly matched and so I expected the prices to be closer to 50/50 while actually if the market continues to move the way it is, Ward will go off at around 4/7 again.
LN: OK, so why the big market support for the American?
TY: The justification for Ward being favourite again is the argument that after a slow start he ‘figured out’ Kovalev and controlled the latter part of the first fight and now has his number. Now that Ward knows how to deal with Kovalev, it’s perceived that there will be no early problems for Ward in the rematch and he’ll be able to control the fight from the first bell and cruise to a points victory. However, that’s not the way I read it.
I’m of the opinion that, rather than Ward taking control from Kovalev, the Russian was aware that he was ahead and boxed more conservatively during the second half of the fight thus allowing Ward a way back in.
It proved to be a costly tactical error but one which can be corrected for the rematch. I think Kovalev will come into the fight the fittest he’s ever been and ready to keep the pressure on Ward for the full 12 rounds.
LN: Enough talk. Give us your best bets for Ward v Kovalev II.
TY: My bets for the fight are Kovalev to win at 5/4 and if Kovalev does pressure Ward in every round of the fight a late stoppage isn’t out of the question. So, Kovalev to win in rounds 10-12 at 28/1 could be worth a bet also.
Agree with Tommy?
Let us know in the comments section below!
And click here for the latest Andre Ward v Sergey Kovalev II odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing