Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev will meet, in violent fashion, in a Las Vegas ring in two months. They met in a more posh and fairly amiable atmosphere on Tuesday in NYC, looking to help spread the word of their PPV tango farther and wider.
I couldn't hit the event, as I was taping a podcast episode. So I asked Kovalev promoter Kathy Duva to give her assessment of the presser.
“I think it went well,” the Main Events boss said. “There was a lot of tension during the stare down.”
Did she pick up on any vibe or anything, see anything out of the ordinary in Ward? This is after all the most high profile clash of both their careers.
“I really don't know Ward at all,” Duva said. “I've only met him once before. So I really don't know how to pick up on anything that he said or did. However, when I sat next to him during Sergey's fight with Pascal in January, I got the impression that he is just as anxious to fight Sergey as Sergey is to fight him. This is really a dream fight in that respect. Two fighters at the very top of their game. Both at the top of the P4P list. Fighting for P4P supremacy. It really doesn't get any better than this!”
And what about Kovalev? He always seems the same level of ready. Does she see or sense anything different in his demeanor? “Sergey is going to be really, really ready. I can see that he has exactly the same attitude he did going into the Hopkins fight. He really relishes a big challenge. He's going to kick Ward's ass!”
Check out this release for quotes from all the principals:
NEW YORK, NY (September 6, 2016) – On Tuesday, September 6, No. 2 Pound-for-Pound and WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs) and No. 4 Pound-for-Pound and Two-Time World Champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) participated in an official press conference at Le Parker Meridien in New York City, in advance of their November 19 “Pound for Pound” showdown at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Kovalev vs. Ward “Pound for Pound” will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View® beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT. Tickets start at $55 and are available on axs.com and the T-Mobile Arena box office.
Below is what the fighters, promoters and other dais guests had to say at the press conference:
Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev – WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion
“It's a big moment in my career. I want to thank all of the people who are involved with this fight, my promoter Kathy Duva, Roc Nation and HBO Pay-Per-View. Thank you to all of my fans. It will be a fight to remember; one for the history books. I just want to give the fans a really great fight in Vegas and on HBO Pay-Per-View.”
Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events
Andre “S.O.G.” Ward – two-time super middleweight world champion
“I'm grateful to be here today. I want to thank everyone who is associated with this event-the good, the bad, the press, all of it. Obviously HBO, Peter Nelson, Roc Nation, Main Events, everyone who's associated with it. It's hard to thank everybody. It's a lot of people that you guys know of that worked on this fight to get it done. There's a lot of different nuances that go into getting a fight like this done, but it's done. That's what we should all focus on.”
“I thank God for this opportunity. I thank God for my career and being able to compete at a high level through the peaks and valleys. Sometimes that gets overlooked, a veteran in the game. I've paid my dues and I continue to pay my dues. This is just another opportunity. I've been in this position before and so has my opponent. It doesn't matter what the other side says, how they feel, what they say. He's got to get it done and I've got to get it done. When those bright lights come on who it's all about who executes and who gets it done. I don't have to throw chairs. I don't have to cuss. I don't have to act crazy. I said let's fight, lets fight. You're selling yourself. I know that what I possess and what I have is in me, and not on me.”
Andre “SOG” Ward
Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events
Kathy Duva – CEO, Main Events
“Finally. There was a time when fighters didn't consider preserving their undefeated records to be paramount to engaging in actual competition. There was a time when undefeated fighters who were heading to the Hall of Fame actually sought out greater and greater challenges as their careers progressed. There was a time when fighters were courageous athletes and not simply cynical businessmen.
The two men who are here with us today-both in their athletic primes, both unbeaten, and, in my opinion, both heading to the Hall of Fame someday-chose to put their 0's on the line and face each other to find out just which one of them is the very best. That is why they deserve to earn your pay-per-view dollars, this is what pay per view is supposed to be. That is why we should move heaven and earth in order to come to the beautiful T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas where this fight will take place. That is why the winner will earn the title of best pound-for-pound fighter in the ring.
Since Ring Magazine began to keep records of the pound-for-pound fighters there have only been two occasions when two unbeaten top five fighters have competed in the ring for pound-for-pound supremacy. The first was Meldrick Taylor vs. Julio Caesar Chavez Sr. in 1994, the second time was Oscar De La Hoya vs Felix Trinidad in 1999. That means that on November 19th, this will be the very first time in the 21st century that such an event will occur in our sport. Let's hope this is the start of something new, a throwback to the way boxing used to be when it was at its best. Let's hope it doesn't take another 17 years before this happens again. Let's hope all the up and coming young sweet scientists learn and follow the example of these young great athletes who sit here today.
So as I said, finally, I'm quite pleased to officially announce “Pound for Pound” and that on Saturday, November 19th, two of the five best fighters in the whole world will fight each other. WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight Champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, who is 30-0, will risk all three of his world titles against two-time world middleweight champion Andre “SOG” Ward, who is also 30-0. The fight will take place in Las Vegas, sponsored by our friends at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, at the beautiful new T-Mobile Arena. Tickets are available now, they're starting at $155 right now because the box office has already sold out all of the $55 tickets we put on sale. You can only get these tickets at the T-Mobile box office and online through AXS.com. I'm happy to report that tickets at other prices are moving much faster than expected and currently there are very few left at the $755 price point and the $155 price point.
This will be live on HBO Pay-Per-View. The suggested retail price is going to be $54.95. It will be presented by Main Events, Roc Nation Sports, Krusher Promotions and Andre Ward Promotions. In addition to the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, the fight sponsors will be Rosneft and Corona.”
Michael Yormark – Roc Nation President & Chief of Branding and Strategy
“Let's make something absolutely clear – on Nov. 19, the stakes could not be higher. In a few minutes, you'll hear from Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev, the two best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. They will be calm, they will be professional, they will be respectful, but make no mistake about it, in 10 weeks' time they will be fighting for something they have spent their entire life pursuing – the title of world's best boxer. For a true competitor like Andre Ward, there could not be a loftier goal. To walk in to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for the undisputed fight of the year, in front of a capacity crowd and millions watching live on HBO Pay Per View, and to know that Andre has the chance to walk out of that ring as the undisputed face of boxing for the better part of the next decade.”
“The Cold War may long be over, but the USA vs. Russia rivalry has never been stronger. It is a battle of world super powers, a matchup of styles as well as beliefs, a collision of two fighters, two cultures, two fan bases. Just like old times, it's the Americans and the Russians once again. But this is not the space race or Rocky Balboa vs. Ivan Drago. This is for real, and Andre Ward is no underdog. Andre has been training and preparing his whole life for a moment like this – facing an elite opponent on a global stage to find out who the best is. On Nov. 19, I have no doubt that Andre will pick up right where the 100-plus medal-winning American Summer Olympic team left off, with a decisive victory over a worthy challenger in Kovalev, and the title of pound-for-pound king.”
Egis Klimas – Manager, Sergey Kovalev
“I am very proud to represent one of the best fighters in the world, Sergey Kovalev. It's been a very long road since 2009 when he came here to the United States. He never was pushed by any media, he never was mismatched, he never was protected like many fighters are nowadays. Many don't know how we used to sit in the van and go from the East coast, town to town, just to get a fight. He never asked me in his career who his opponent is. He just asked when he was fighting and what weight he should be. Again, I'm very proud to represent Sergey Kovalev and I want to thank Andre Ward's team at Roc Nation for taking this opportunity and putting on the best fight of the year. There has been talk earlier that this is going to be fifty-fifty chance. People also mentioned that they don't know how it is going to turn out. But, I want to thank a powerful woman, Kathy Duva. She has done a very good job throughout Sergey's career. I want to thank HBO, T-Mobile Arena, MGM, everybody who was involved in making this fight happen. I'm a little nervous, a little excited, but I am looking forward to whatever it is and can't wait to see you guys in Vegas on November 19. Thank you.”
James Prince – Manager, Andre Ward
“I'd like to thank God for this opportunity, HBO, Main Events, Roc Nation. I'm really grateful for everyone working so hard to make this fight happen. I witnessed the work and the sacrifice that was made on every side. This fight is kind of simple to me…David versus Goliath. Sergey is Goliath, Andre is David. Once again, I'm really thankful for this opportunity. Andre's been on this journey for all his life preparing for this moment. So it's here, the 19th of November.”
John David Jackson – Trainer, Sergey Kovalev
“This fight is one the fans deserve to see. Andre Ward is a very good fighter, undefeated as an amateur. To be undefeated as an amateur is one thing that comes from training. That always speaks volumes for him. On the other side of this we've got Kovalev. He's the Krusher, he seeks and destroys. So come November 19, I expect a great fight between two great fighters. The winner deserves to be pound-for-pound the best boxer in the world. Watch it on Pay Per View, watch this fight. All the talk, all that's done, now it's time for preparation and to go to war. And that's what we're here for, to go to war. Come November 19th, we'll see two great fighters trying to be the best pound-for-pound in the world. We'll see what happens, expect one great fight between two great fighters.”
Virgil Hunter – Trainer, Andre Ward
“I just want to thank you all for showing up and turning out and supporting this great event. A fight of this magnitude is deserving of the fans and Pay-Per-View that are supporting the fight. Obviously, it's a great fight between two champions and I'm glad to be part of it. See everybody in Vegas.”
Peter Nelson – Executive Vice President, HBO Sports
“I want to thank all the media for being here. It's all of you that write consistently about the desire to see this sport flourish, have the best fight the best, that causes fights like this to materialize. I want to thank Kathy Duva of Main Events, I want to thank Michael Yormark with Roc Nation, Egis Klimas, James Prince, Josh Dubin for all the work that they've done behind the scenes in putting the fight together. There's been plenty of times where the politics of the business of boxing have superseded fan's interest over the actual fights themselves.
“I'm happy to report that this fight has consistently captivated everyone's imagination. Anyone who says today that they know what is going to happen on November 19 is the definition of a liar. We know that there is no telling what can happen. But that, to Kathy's point, is what defines great fights. It's about fighters like Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev who have decided to be in the business of putting unified titles on the line and of putting pound-for-pound records on the line, about putting undefeated status on the line, about putting money, status, power on the line, about putting daring to be great on the line, about putting legacy on the line, and the rest of the business end takes care of itself. That's what great fighters do. That's why we are all so proud to be part of this event. That's why there are all these people on the stage that we are all so proud that we are associated with an event where two great fighters will come together for this on HBO Pay-Per-View.
“I want to thank the T-Mobile, it's a great arena and we are excited to be back there. It looks to be a great undercard that is going to formulate on the show as well. We are excited to see it all come together and look forward to seeing you all on November 19. Thank you.”