Duva: Ward has the belts, but the respect is with Kovalev

Ward v Kovalev 25/05/2017

Kristofer Sandifer

Main Events promoter Kathy Duva pulled no punches when talking up the Andre Ward v Sergey Kovalev rematch at the opening press launch recently, although the frustration of the first meeting still runs deep.

Kovalev lost a wafer thin decision to Ward in November, a defeat that has divided opinion ever since, and Duva hopes to see justice done when the two top light-heavyweights trade punches against next month.

“If Andre Ward is half as tough in the ring as his promoter talks, I suppose Sergey may have his hands full. But we are coming to Las Vegas in June and Sergey has one goal in mind and that is to make sure that the winner actually wins the fight this time,” said Duva.

“Sergey Kovalev is probably the biggest perfectionist I’ve ever met. I’ve seen him walk away from fights that he knocked his opponent out in two rounds, and then apologize for his performance.

“Everybody keeps talking about excuses on the other side, and nobody’s making any. He is blaming himself, he has apologized to his fans for not making that win emphatic enough so that people could not take it from him because, with all the respect in the world to Andre Ward, he didn’t win Sergey’s belts they were taken from Sergey.

“Both Sergey and Andre have a history now. They both have something to prove, they each have a story.

“Right now, Sergey’s story is that he wants his belts back. Andre’s story is that he wants respect, because he may have those belts but the respect is still with this man. And that is because he went to Wales to win his world title, he went to Philadelphia to win his other world titles when he fought Bernard Hopkins. He went to Canada to fight Jean Pascal.

“He is champion of the world whether or not he’s got the belts at this moment or relinquished them temporarily, he’s still a champion to an awful lot of people,” she added.

Ward claimed the top spot in the pound for pound rankings with the initial triumph and will be hoping having his hand raised a second time will cast aside any doubts over his position as the best fighter on the planet.