Andre SOG Ward (30-0-0 18KOs) and Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-0-1, 25KOs) are set to do battle on Nov 19th, at T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV. Krusher is expected to throw bombs starting with the opening bell. Undoubtedly, he will experience more than a little difficulty landing on Ward, a moving target and one that strikes back in a blur.
Ward is admired for his ring generalship. Carl Froch explained it best when he described it this way……Ward controlled the distance. He was either too close or too far away….. He might have added “too low” too.
Ward, the general, is expected to use his foot speed and boxing ability to stay just out of range, hoping the Krusher will over extend and leave himself vulnerable. When Ward has an opportunity to close the distance, he will stay in close, at least long enough to land short shots, elbows and any other destructive move available. Krusher’s trainer, John David Jackson, doesn’t think Ward knows how to fight on the inside. It’s a mistake to think that. More likely if Ward’s strategy succeeds, the Krusher will feel as if his nose and mouth are covered and he’s suffocating.
Andre understands he will need to make adjustments as the fight goes on. As far as Andre the general is concerned, he is confident he will be able to make those customizations or refinements. Krusher’s power might sabotage the general’s plans. Most experts think all he needs is a chance to land one power shot, and that will change everything.
In most fights, two combatants will sometimes engage in a semi clinch. That’s one were the two are not clenched so tight it requires action by the referee to free them. When a semi-clinch occurs, both men voluntarily release and step back. At that point each man tends to relax a bit, and then resume action. However, Ward is not typical. When his opponent shows the slightest vulnerability, he will jump on him with hards shots.
Another thing, Ward has always been able to stay lower than his opponent, getting down in the trenches. How low can he go? Well, low enough that a little pre-fight discussion with the referee might be warranted by Kovalev and his trainer. They would be wise in insisting enforcement of the rule that states, “no head below the waistline”. Also, Kovalev should insist the general not be allowed to use his head like a helmut, propelling himself out of the trenches and aiming the top of his head at his opponent’s face. Accidental? Planned? or just his style? There is a fine line the referee must define.
Everyone knows that SOG stands for Son of God, but come Nov. 19th, General Ward might hope it also stands for sergeant of the guard, because generals need enlisted men too. Ward will need plenty, starting with the need to keep his guard up tight.
Often one fighter can make a mistake and still win the fight. But, if Ward makes a mistake, it could prove to be disastrous. Ask Bernard “The Executioner/The Alien” Hopkins. He didn’t really make a mistake. He just tried to go in low, under the radar, to land a body shot. Sergey touched him high on the head with a right hand, and down went The Alien. Hopkins didn’t make that move again. In fact, he didn’t do much of anything for the rest of the fight.
Early in this Saturday nights battle, Ward will jab and probe, moving in and out, side to side, up and down, using his left like a tracer, illuminating things for the heavier punches to follow. Once he is satisfied with the trajectory and angle, he might further risk using his superior speed and start firing the larger caliber variety. The problem he will experience is the Krusher will be firing heavy caliber stuff right away. He has proven in the past that he is willing to take a punch to land one of his own. Ward’s punches are the kind that weaken the enemy and make him think twice about raising his head. Ward would love that. But, can the General keep command of his troops/weapons long enough to come away with a victory?
One last item of possible interest is transition. Ward is a natural left handed fighter, who primarily uses an orthodox stance. Sometimes he will transition on the fly in hopes of placing himself just to the left of the fighter and in close. From there, before his opponent can turn, he can rip powerful lefts to the body and head. Kovalev does something similar. It sometimes comes when his opponent thinks he is safely out of range. The difference between his transition and Ward’s is that he will throw a long powerful tour de force straight left. If he lands it and it has the desired effect, then it will be regarded as his most important conquest.