For those of you who missed out on Andre Ward’s win over Alexander Brand last night in Oakland, California … congratulations. The fight was terrible, Ward took a unanimous decision against an opponent so hopelessly overmatched that HBO openly acknowledged it during the broadcast. Of importance from last night’s main event was that Ward got the victory in the first place, as coupled with Sergey Kovalev’s win against Isaac Chilemba on July 11th, the anticipated showdown between Ward and Kovalev is officially a done deal for November 19th in Las Vegas (venue TBD).
Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) moved up to light heavyweight this year after a hugely successful career at super middleweight, where he was very much considered one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world. An unsuccessful contract dispute with promoter Dan Goossen (who has since passed away) was the main reason for his inactivity for nearly 2 full years, and he vacated his WBA 168 lbs title as part of his jump to 175 lbs. Part of his deal with HBO was a lucrative PPV fight with Sergey Kovalev, so his wins over Brand and Sullivan Barrera was nothing more than tune-ups.
Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) is the reigning WBO, IBF, and WBA light heavyweight champion, with only WBC champ Adonis Stevenson preventing the Russian from being the undisputed champion with all of the major belts. He wasn’t at his best against Isaac Chilemba in Moscow, but he did score a knockdown and get the unanimous decision. That was effectively a tune-up fight and a title defense all in one, but his preceding fight was a corner stoppage TKO of Jean Pascal in Montreal, Canada. Kovalev had stopped Pascal last year in a very entertaining contest, and he was able to finish his Canadian foe a round quicker than the first time.
It’s a genuinely great matchup on paper, which of course does not mean it’ll deliver great action, but you can’t deny how great both men are. This figures to be the most evenly contested high-profile boxing match of 2016, and while Ward and Kovalev didn’t scintillate in their respective tune-ups, they’re set for a hugely pivotal clash this November, and it’s one that boxing fans will most certainly be looking forward to.
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