By Marc Livitz: Last Fall, boxing fans were treated to a perfect example of the best fighting the best when Andre Ward narrowly edged out Sergey Kovalev for light heavyweight supremacy. All three scorecards read 114-113 in a tightly contested, back and forth matchup which included the winner, Ward (31-0, 15 KO’s) being knocked down for the first time in his stellar career in the second round. Many fans in attendance at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas cried foul, hometown decision (Ward is from Oakland, California) and wondered how Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KO’s) wasn’t awarded the victory. In any case and despite the setback, which was the first in his professional career, the fighter from Russia known as "Krusher" will get another chance to set the record straight in less than two weeks. "Ward vs Kovalev 2: The Rematch" will take place on Saturday, June 17 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Sergey, CEO Kathy Duva of Main Events Promotions, trainer Egas Klimas and trainer John David Jackson all took part in an international media conference call on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the upcoming showdown. The bout will be broadcast in the United States on HBO Pay Per View on Saturday, June 17 (9pm ET, 6pm PT).
Selected Highlights Listed Below
Kathy Duva, Opening Statements: "We’re just eleven days away, we’re excited and we’ll have a great event."
Kovalev On Judges’ Decision: "I watched the fight film once. I don’t know what they saw but that’s not my job. I saw that I won eight out of twelve rounds. For me, I don’t care what happened. What matters is what I do on June 17."
John David Jackson on the same: "I had 9-3 at best and 8-4 at worst for us. I thought Sergey won the fight, hands down. Why the judges scored the way they did, only they know. We’ll just have to move on. For the fans, Sergey proved in the first half of that fight that he can outbox Ward."
"Sergey doesn’t have to do much more than he did, but he’ll need to be more aggressive in the second half of the fight. If Ward’s team claims that Andre was at his best, then he’s past his prime. He didn’t get Sergey’s best. That shot that dropped him wasn’t Sergey’s best. Imagine when he does get hit with his best. Ward’s team better change it up this time."
Sergey on changes in training: "This camp has gone well. We corrected all my last mistakes. It’s going good, much better. Everyone will see."
If he needs a Knockout This Time: "Everything depends on my preparation. I am trying to get into my best shape for June 17. I don’t know exactly how the fight is going to go. Let’s just see what happens. I just have one goal: to beat Andre Ward and get my belts back. I want to put him back in his place but I don’t have a prediction."
"I’m ready for everything. This is a new test for me. I believe that the judges will do the best they can, or at least they should. My promoter, Kathy Duva likes these judges because they don’t make the same mistakes. I just have to do my best job in the ring. This fight is for the boxing fans. Everybody will see what will happen. No decision because last time, the decision was wrong and everybody saw it. No one recognizes Andre Ward as the champion. He needs to prove that he deserves to wear the belts. I want to punish him and get my belts back."
Kovalev on Current Condition: "My energy and strength was empty one month before the last fight. I will be at my best this time. I feel that things will be different from last time."
Jackson On Ward’s Plan: "If you are a smart fighter, then you make adjustments. What’s he going to do? If he becomes more aggressive or he runs more, then it works to our advantage. If he’s going to change his game and prove that he beat Sergey the first time, which he did not, then he’ll have to be more aggressive. He can’t make any adjustments that way because if he does, then he’s playing Russian Roulette and he’s going to get clipped."
Duva on PPV Sales: "I don’t know if there’s any way to predict that. I think the episode of "24/7" on HBO has been great. Some people are saying that it’s one of the best in years."
Kovalev on Ward Personally: "I don’t really have any comments because he doesn’t deserve my attention. I just want to punish him and let there be no mistake."
On The Decision: "It is what it is. I was upset that I lost my belts and I was empty. I was disappointed but most of that came from my performance and I didn’t show everything I could. It just wasn’t my day against this overrated, fake champion."
Duva on A Third Fight: "No more rematches. This is it. There’s no obligation for a rematch after this."
Kovalev on a bout with Adonis Stevenson: "He’s starting to beat his opponents early and he’s fighting guys he know he can beat. He just beat a guy with a second round knockout who he’d beaten eleven out of twelve rounds the first time. It’s like he beat an Uber driver."
On Support in America: "The haters motivate me. I want to disappoint all of them. After the first fight, many fans in America on social media contacted me and said they knew I won."
"I appreciate the support that I have received here. The support I’ve been shown from fans lets me know that I am right and that I won. It’s much easier to accept and understand when you’re not alone. I don’t care what Ward or his team says about me. Believe me."