By Ryan Burton
Last week it was announced that the Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev rematch was official. The fight will once again be distributed by HBO pay-per-view and take place in Las Vegas, this time at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on June 17th.
The first time around last November, Ward recovered from a second round knockdown to secure a narrow points victory. All three scorecards read 114-113.
Former unified light heavyweight champion and undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins feels that Ward's amateur pedigree prepared him well for the powerful Russian.
"Andre Ward is one of the slickest, one of the most diverse fighters that know whatever style is out there and a lot of that comes from the amateurs. He went up against every style, every nationality and went all the way to the gold medal and won it," said Hopkins.
Before their first encounter, Hopkins predicted that either Ward would win a decision or that Kovalev would stop the American.
Hopkins believes that Kovalev's lack of stamina in the later rounds was a key in their first go round.
"Let me tell you, Sergey is coming with some vengeance. He is coming with some attitude. The first fight I said and I know everybody here probably saw the segment on HBO - in the Sergey and Ward fight you saw the matador versus the bull. You are going to see a carbon copy but you are going to see it a little bit different from Sergey. I think that he figured out that he got to come in there strong. Everybody already knows he hit hard but in that fight he showed me a little bit of him tiring and a little bit of a lack of energy and snap on his punches later on in the fight," Hopkins told BoxingScene.com.
"In the second half, the fight was lost then. It was a close fight. As I said before the fight, who will win, on camera during the segment I was asked. I said if Sergey wins he wins by knockout. He had that opportunity but Ward got up. If Ward wins he will win by decision. Ward got up and he out hustled some rounds and he got a decision. So who do you really think won Bernard (he was asked afterwards) and I said that I stand by what I said. I left it like that."
He believes that their second fight will be similar to the first but that Kovalev will bring something a little different to the table. By being more aggressive he has a better chance to score a knockout but will also be taking a big risk.
"The second go around, it is even tougher than the first one. Now you have a little different scenario, different reality. And the reality is Sergey don't want to be in that situation again. But is he going to be vulnerable or leave himself open to get countered by Ward and outmuscled in the second half of the fight? Possibly," Hopkins explained.
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