Virgil Hunter believes mental toughness will make Kovalev-Ward ‘a great fight’

Andre Ward/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation Sports

 

It’s possible Saturday’s light heavyweight title fight between champion Sergey Kovalev of Russia and Andre Ward of Oakland at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas could be a terrific fight. It could be the opposite if Ward looks to box all 12 rounds in crafty mode, frustrating Kovalev and fans alike.

During a sit-down with the respective trainers Wednesday, Virgil Hunter – Ward’s trainer – told reporters one reason why he believes this bout will be worth every cent fans spend.

“Do I believe that Ward will exhibit mental toughness? Yes, without a doubt,” Hunter said. “Do I believe that Kovalev will exhibit it? I’m sure he will as well. And that’s the making of a great fight.”

Ward is 30-0 with 15 knockouts. Kovalev is 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts. Their bout – and three others – will be available on HBO pay-per-view.

 

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Claressa Shields ultra-confident about her boxing skills ahead of pro debut

Cleraa Shields (r.) beat Dutch fighter Nouchka Fontijn by unanimous decision.

Claressa Shields, right, celebrates her gold-medal victory over Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands in Rio De Janeiro/Photo by  Alex Livesey, Getty Images

 

Claressa Shields does not lack confidence, nor should she. Shields won back-to-back gold medals for Team USA in the 2012 London Games and 2016 Rio Games. Now she’s on the brink of turning pro.

Shields on Saturday will take on Franchon Crews in a super middleweight bout underneath the light heavyweight title fight between champion Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view).

Shields worked out for reporters Monday in Las Vegas. She touched on many subjects, including her decision to take her talents to the professional ranks rather than go for a third gold medal.

“When deciding to go pro, I thought about my legacy,” said Shields, 21. “I didn’t want to disappear for four years and win another gold medal, but have people not know my name or what I look like or how I box.”

Shields also discussed her talents, and her words demonstrated how self-assured she is about them.

“Expect to see a really good fight, a very skilled fight from me, this Saturday,” said Shields, of Flint, Mich. “The world is going to see a level of boxing that no woman boxer has ever shown before. I’m a smart fighter. I’m an entertaining fighter. I throw everything well and have great combinations.”

Crews, of Baltimore, will be making her debut as well.

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Andre Ward says focus in training always the same, regardless of opponent

Andre Ward/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation

 

If you have followed the career of Andre Ward, it’s easy to tell how well prepared he has been for all of his fights. That, he says, is because even though the fighters are different, his level of concentrations is the same.

“Regardless of who I’m fighting — (Sullivan) Barrera, (Alexander) Brand, (Sergey) Kovalev, whoever — there’s always different game plans and nuances when it comes to preparation and training,” said Ward, who Nov. 19 will challenge Kovalev for his light heavyweight belts at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view). “The reality of it is, every fight is a must-win for me. I prepare for each fight as if I’m facing the most difficult opponent of my career. That’s always been my approach, and I think you’re playing with fire if you don’t adopt that mentality in this sport.

“I know this is a big fight, the biggest of my career. But my mindset and my focus have been consistent no matter the opponent, and that’s an invaluable asset.”

Ward, 32, is from Oakland. He’s 30-0 with 15 knockouts. Kovalev, 33, is from Russia. He’s 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts.

 

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Sergey Kovalev’s goal is to become top pound-for-pound fighter in the world

Sergey Kovalev Is the Rare, Refreshing Boxing Star Who Doesn't Duck a Challenge

Sergey Kovalev lands a right hand to the head of Bernard Hopkins during their November 2014 fight won by Kovalev/Photo by Associated Press

 

Sergey Kovalev, the vicious light heavyweight champion from Russia, is unquestionably a top pound-for-pound fighter. He’s No. 2 or No. 3, with Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez No. 1 and Gennady Golovkin either No. 2 or No. 3.

Kovalev on Nov. 19 will be defending his belts against Andre Ward at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view). Since Ward is a top 5 pound-for-pound fighter, suffice to say that a victory for Kovalev would make his case stronger for being anointed No. 1. He wouldn’t mind that a bit.

“When I was growing up in Russia, I did not hear these words ‘pound- for-pound,’ ” Kovalev said. “Once I learned what this was I knew this was important. I am honored that people think I am the fighter that could get this title. It’s important for me, for my career. I am champion in my division now, but I want to get all the belts and also I would like to be best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.”

Kovalev, 33, is 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts. Ward, 32, is 30-0 with 15 knockouts.

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HBO’s ‘My Fight: Kovalev/Ward’ will make its debut on Oct. 29

Sergey Kovalev/Photo courtesy of Main Events Boxing

 

HBO’s “My Fight: Kovalev/Ward” will debut on Oct. 29. The documentary will take an in-depth look at the upcoming light heavyweight title fight between champion Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward that will take place Nov. 19 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view).

Kovalev, of Russia, is 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts. More importantly, he is 9-0 with seven knockouts in world-tltle fights.

Ward, of Oakland, is a former super middleweight champion with a record of 30-0 and 15 knockouts. He went 7-0 with just one knockout in super middleweight world-title fights before moving up to light heavyweight in 2015.

The documentary will air several more times on HBO as well as HBO2 leading up to the bout.

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Bernard Hopkins’ final fight will be against Joe Smith Jr. on Dec. 17 at Forum

Kovalev dominates Hoplrins

Sergey Kovalev, left, lands a punch to the head of Bernard Hopkins during their fight in November 2014/Associated Press file photo

 

Living boxing legend Bernard Hopkins has been saying he wants to fight one more time, even though he’s 51. Hopkins will get his wish when he takes on Joe Smith Jr. in a light heavyweight bout Dec. 17 at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood (on HBO).

Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions, confirmed late Monday morning that a verbal accord had been reached for the bout.

“We just got a deal done,” Gomez said.

Hopkins is a partner in Golden Boy, whose CEO and chairman is Oscar De La Hoya. De La Hoya, inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2014, began his pro career at the Forum in 1992.

That irony is not lost on Gomez.

“It’s pretty cool that Oscar started his career at the Forum and now Bernard is going to retire at the Forum,” Gomez said.

Hopkins, of Philadelphia, is 55-7-2 with 32 knockouts. He hasn’t fought since losing a wide decision to light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in November 2014. Smith, 27, is from Long Island, N.Y. He is 22-1 18 knockouts.

Hopkins-Smith would have taken place on the same card as the interim super featherweight title fight between Orlando Salido of Mexico and Takashi Miura of Japan. But Salido sustained a back injury this past week and pulled out Monday.

“Now we’re either going to replace Salido with a suitable replacement, or replace the entire fight,” Gomez said. “We don’t know yet.”

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Andre Ward’s preparation for a fight is unmatched, trainer Virgil Hunter says

Andre Ward celebrates his lopsided unanimous decision over Alexander Brand in August at Oracle Arena in Oakland/Associated Press photo by Eric Risberg

 

Training camp can be a grind. But Andre Ward of Oakland seems to embrace it.

Ward on Nov. 19 will challenge Sergey Kovalev of Russia for his three light heavyweight championship belts at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view). Ward on Monday officially began training camp for the biggest fight of his career, but his head was already there.

“I’ve been in pre-camp mode for weeks now following my last fight, and have been mentally preparing for the work ahead of me,” said Ward, who will train in Hayward. “It’s an exciting feeling to be in full camp mode, where I can dedicate 100% of my mind, body and soul to the battle I am about to face. This is a fight that we have been working up to since last spring. The game plan hasn’t changed. I am here and I am ready.”

Ward’s trainer, Virgil Hunter, said this attitude is what separates Ward from others.

“No one beats Andre Ward when it comes to training camp,” Hunter said. “We’re going into camp with the mentality of ‘Another day, another fight, another win.’ His strive for perfection, work ethic and consistency is what makes him a champion.”

Ward, a former super middleweight champion, is 32. He is 30-0 with 15 knockouts. Kovalev, 33, is 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts.

 

 

 

 

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Longtime promoter Bob Arum shoots down foolish notion that boxing is dead

Bob-Arum-042015-Getty-FTR

Bob Arum/Getty Images file photo

 

Longtime promoter Bob Arum on Tuesday played host to a news conference in Los Angeles to formally announce the undercard for the Nov. 5 welterweight title fight between champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) and Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas (on Top Rank pay-per-view, $59.95).

Not one to miss an opportunity, Arum closed the proceedings by talking about how alive and well boxing is – contrary to what some think. It wasn’t long ago that an L.A.-area columnist (not from this newspaper) who doesn’t even cover boxing said boxing was dead.

“Boxing not only isn’t dead, but it’s on the cusp of a great resurgence,” Arum said on the dais at the Conga Room. “You have all of these great, young fighters from the United States, from Mexico and from all around the world who are coming to the world stage.”

While pondering that, just think of all the terrific fighters not from the U.S. or Mexico making a big splash here these days. We’re talking the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Vasyl Lomachenko, Sergey Kovalev, Kell Brook and Carl Frampton to name just five.

“We are on the cusp of really a time in boxing where people all around the world will join together to watch our great athletes perform,” Arum said.

The main undercard fight for Pacqjuiao-Vargas will have Nonito Donaire (37-3, 24 KOs) of San Leandro via the Philippines defending his super bantamweight belt against Jessie Magdaleno (23-0, 17 KOs) of Las Vegas.

Also, newly crowned featherweight champion Oscar Valdez (20-0, 18 KOs) of Mexico will defend his title against Hiroshige Osawa (30-3-4, 19 KOs) of Japan.

Finally, Zou Shiming (8-1, 2 KOs) of China and Prasitsak Papoem (39-1-2, 24 KOs) of Thailand will duke it out for a vacant flyweight world title.

 

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Andre Ward: Once the bell rings, it’s all about executing and getting it done

Andre Ward/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation

 

Andre Ward doesn’t see any reason for trash-talk. He explained why Tuesday when he and Sergey Kovalev played host to a New York City news conference promoting their Nov. 19 light heavyweight title fight at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view).

“… I’ve been in this position before and so has my opponent,” Ward said. “It doesn’t matter what the other side says, how they feel, what they say. He’s got to get it done and I’ve got to get it done. When those bright lights come on, it’s all about who executes and who gets it done. I don’t have to throw chairs. I don’t have to cuss. I don’t have to act crazy.”

Ward, 32, of Oakland, is 30-0 with 15 knockouts. He is a former super middleweight champion.

Kovalev, 33, is the champion from Russia. At 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts, he has become one of the meaner hombres in the game. He knows he’s got to be as ferocious as ever to get past the more crafty Ward.

“It’s a big moment in my career,” Kovalev said.

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Andre Ward believes Alexander Brand could be dangerous on Saturday

Andre Ward/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation Sports

 

Alexander Brand of Colombia has 26 professional fights, with all but four of them taking place in his homeland. Three were in the States, but none on a big stage. The other was in the Dominican Republic.

Brand (25-1, 19 KOs) is therefore nothing close to a known commodity. But Andre Ward, who Saturday will tangle with Brand in the light heavyweight main event at Oracle Arena in Oakland (on HBO), says he knows what he needs to know about the 39-year-old Colombian.

“I know enough about Brand,” said Ward, a former super middleweight champion. “He’s got everything to gain and nothing to lose. He swings for the fences with every punch. He’s a dangerous guy to fight.”

Brand has a knockout ratio of 73 percent. Ward’s, at 29-0 with 15 knockouts, is 52 percent. But Ward is so much better, that disparity won’t mean much when he squares off with Brand.

A victory for Ward will mean he’ll next challenge Sergey Kovalev for his light heavyweight title Nov. 19 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

 

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