A Genuine 50/50 superfight

Regular readers of this (rarely updated!) blog may notice that it is all over the place. Like myself, it goes through passing phases of interest. I consider it slightly concerning that I have a vague interest in so many subjects without being truly passionate in any of them.

For example, there was a time when I was really interested in boxing. I trained for about a year, and actually sparred on three occasions, despite having abysmal eyesight. I was completely awful at it, and preferred to read about and watch it. I developed a strong knowledge of boxing history, with my favourite fighter being Thomas Hearns.

Hearns, who started his professional life as a 6ft1 welterweight (147lbs), used his 80 inch reach to establish his thudding jab, and then hit you with a right hand that would wobble heavyweights. I liked Hearns because he was skinny like me, and I had absurd dreams of boxing like him.

As with many of my interests though, Boxing began to fade out of my life between 2012/2013, the last fight I remember watching live was the tremendous Carl Froch vs Mikkel Kessler II in June 2013.

In the past few weeks though, I have attempted to revive my interest in the sport. Boxing is not in the greatest shape at the moment, as it suffers under the onslaught of the UFC. The UFC, though their best fighters make much less than the best boxers, makes fights that people want to see, and their is little ducking within the organisation. Compare that to boxing, where avoiding opponents is commonplace.

This weekend though, in the aftermath of an amazing UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden, an exciting superfight will take place in Las Vegas. For the honour of the WBA, IBF and WBO Light Heavyweight titles, and perhaps the unofficial title of number one pound for pound fighter in the world, champion Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KO’s) will take on challenger Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KO’s).

This is the classic boxer vs puncher match up. Kovalev is the puncher. has awesome power in both of his hands, he has the potential to knock anybody down or out at any moment. Whereas Andre Ward, the boxer, is an exceptionally intelligent ring craftsman, who can adapt his plans in a split second during a fight and outbox opponents fighting on the outside or inside.

They are both unbeaten, and have good opponents on their record, though I would say Ward has the slightly better CV. He won the Showtime Super 6 tournament in 2011, defeating Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch easily, all of whom were top level opponents. He also has wins over decent opposition like Edison Miranda and Chad Dawson. Unfortunately, due to promoter issues, Ward did not fight between November 2013 and June 2015, but has shaken off ring rust with three solid wins since then.

Kovalev came to prominence with his annihilation of Nathan Cleverly for the WBO Light-Heavyweight title in August 2013. Not only did he drop his opponent three times in four rounds, but he also out boxed the clever Welsh fighter. Since then, he earned a shutout win over living legend Bernard Hopkins, and stopped contender Jean Pascal twice.

This bout has brought comparisons to another boxer vs puncher battle, when Sugar Ray Leonard fought the aforementioned Thomas Hearns in ‘The Showdown’ in September 1981. However, it should be remembered in that fight that the roles were reversed. For most of the fight Hearns out boxed Leonard, whilst Leonard came from behind by going for broke (‘you’re blowing it son’ yelled his trainer Angelo Dundee) to stop Hearns in the 14th round.

This fight is too close to call with any confidence. Ward is the master boxer, but what did that lay off do to him, is he the same fighter who won the Super 6? Kovalev has bone crunching power, but can he last 12 rounds with a quick, active fighter in Ward?

Most importantly, will this fight live up to the hype? Let’s hope so for the sake of boxing.

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