It was announcedTuesday that unified light heavyweight champion Andre Ward will defend his titles in a rematch against former champion SergeyKovalevon June 17 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The event will air on HBO pay-per-view.
After contentious negotiations to get the first fight to occur betweenKovalev'spromoter, Main Events, and Ward's Roc Nation, the fight took placeNov. 19.Kovalevknocked down Ward in the second round, but lost a controversial unanimous decision by a score of 114-113 on all three scorecards. Many boxing fans and mediawere in unison thinkingKovalevhad done more than enough to earn the nod.
Kovalevhad an immediate rematch clause in his contract from the first tilt and exercised the clause quickly after the fight ended. Negotiations didn't go much better this time,but at the end of the dayboth camps were able to reach an agreement, hence the promotion of the fight is titled"No Excuses".
"I'm going to keep it short and sweet. You got what you asked for. Now you have to see me on June 17," Ward said in comments toKovalev. "This time leave the excuses at home."
"I'm glad to know that rematch will happen,"Kovalevsaid. "I really hope that Andre Ward will get into the ring for this rematch. Fans of boxing will see the real 'Krusher' — the one they have missed for couple of my last fights. For me this rematch is very important as no other bout in my entire boxing career. Thanks a lot to all of boxing fans."
While the fight was between two of the top fighters in the world, it didn't resonate with the people, as the show only did around 160,000 on pay-per-view. Because of the controversy of the first fight and with no college football on, the event should do better the second time.
The 33-year-old Ward(31-0, 15 KOs) is a 2004 Olympic gold medalist. He went on to capture a super middleweight title in 2009 and then went on to win the Super Six World Boxing Classic to cement himself as the best 168-pound fighter in the world and the unified champion.
After conquering the division, Ward decided to test his mettle by moving up to 175 pounds in 2015. The Oakland, Calif., native won three consecutive fights before going to win the biggest fight of his career againstKovalev.
Kovalev, 34, (30-1-1, 26 KOs) won the light heavyweight title in 2013 when he went to Wales and notched a fourth-roundknockout against NathanCleverley. "TheKrusher" went on to make eight consecutive title defenses (six by KO),including the best performance of his career in 2014 against Bernard Hopkins by a lopsided unanimous decision.
Steven Muehlhausen is an MMA and boxing writer and contributor for Sporting News. You can find his podcast, "The Fight Club Chicago," and subscribe on iTunes. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and can find him on Twitter @SMuehlhausenMMA.