By Rick Reeno, photo by Tom Hogan
Las Vegas - Fight week is officially underway.
On Tuesday afternoon, IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) and challenger Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) arrived at the Mandalay Bay, where on Saturday night the two boxers will collide for a second time.
Last November, at Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena, Ward recovered from getting dropped in the second round to win a razor-thin twelve round round unanimous decision to capture Kovalev's three world titles. All three of the judges scored it 114-113 for Ward.
The championship event will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View® beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.
While the first fight was business, Kovalev makes it clear that the upcoming rematch is very personal.
This time around, the Russian puncher has a very deep dislike for Ward and members of his team.
"When I see his face, I want to punch it. I will get this opportunity on June 17th and I'm very happy for this opportunity to smash his face. I don't like this guy. He and his team are liars. He said that he gave me this rematch as a present for the boxing fans.. don't lie. It was in the contract that you must give me [the rematch] or you retire. Jay-Z pay him like $7 million so of course he gives [the rematch]," Kovalev explained.
If Kovalev wins, he is not interested in doing a trilogy bout - ever.
"I don't want to do any business with this team anymore, after this fight," Kovalev said.
"It's been proved that this team is very dirty, doing very dirty politics, doing very dirty acts. They can not prove any of the words that they say. I've said a lot before this fight and I can and I must prove it. But they are saying things, everyone from his team, but only Ward is going inside the ring. They will pay for everything that they say and they do.
"I don't respect this team at all, because they are really motherf***ers, for me, in my eyes. I see that nobody wants to work with them."