A day after a highly contentious news conference, light heavyweight champion Andre Ward and former champion Sergey Kovalev saved the fireworks for the ring on Saturday night and their weigh-in went off without a hitch.
Both fighters weighed in at an even 175 pounds Friday at the Events Center at Mandalay Bay, where the rematch will take place on Saturday (HBO pay-per-view, 9 p.m. ET Saturday). That was at the weight limit for their division, and both looked to be relaxed and in tremendous shape. And they faced off afterwards without incident, though it was not a nose to nose faceoff, leaving a good foot-and-a-half of space between them.
“He’s fine,” Main Events President Kathy Duva said of Kovalev, the company’s meal ticket. “But I’m telling you he enjoys his work more when he doesn’t like the other guy. He’s in this relaxed, very good place right now, right where we want him to be.”
On Thursday during the final news conference, Kovalev, wearing a ballcap that had the word WAR in large letters on the front and scowling much of the time, blew off a reporters’ round table, then after saying a few words at the press conference, pointed at Ward, said “you better be ready,” and stormed off the stage with his trainer, John David Jackson, and his manager Egis Klimas.
Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) was roundly criticized by the Roc Nation contingent, which was running the news conference and promotes Ward (31-0, 15 KOs), who told Kovalev not to point his finger at him.
Ward, a narrow favorite who will earn $6.5 million for the rematch, was jawing at Kovalev during the faceoff, and the Russian said nothing in return.
“That’s because he doesn’t understand a word Ward was saying,” Duva said.
Ward wouldn’t divulge what he said, only that “as long as he understood me, that’s all that matters,” he said. But there was no physical contact.
Asked why he left Thursday’s news conference early, Kovalev, who will make about $1 million for his night’s work, said,”I didn’t want to spend my energy listening to the (bleep) they say.
“I said enough, just wait … tomorrow you will see ‘Krusher’ in the ring against Ward.”
When Kovalev was told that Ward’s longtime trainer, Virgil Hunter, claimed he trained Ward to knock him out, Kovalev laughed and said, “Wowwww, really? OK, we’ll see. But who is Virgil Hunter?
Ward was asked about Kovalev’s statement that he wanted to hurt Ward, who found nothing funny about that.
“My only problem with that is, when he says something like that, he’s bringing my family into it, insinuating I’m not going to make it home,” Ward said. “He has a problem now.
“It’s not going to happen. He put it out there and now he has to back it up.”
Source: Bob Velin| USA Today