Buzz over­shad­ows Ward-Ko­valev fight

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Bob Velin @BobVelin

It’s the ele­phant in the room at Man­dalay Bay dur­ing the buildup to Satur­day’s light heavy­weight ti­tle fight be­tween cham­pion An­dre Ward and challenger Sergey Ko­valev.

The an­nounce­ment Wed­nes­day that the cross­over su­per­fight be­tween Floyd May­weather Jr. and Conor McGre­gor is a done deal for Aug. 26 at T-Mo­bile Arena was on the lips of nearly ev­ery­one in­volved with the Ward-Ko­valev pro­mo­tion. The buzz of­ten over­shad­owed the buzz for the Ward-Ko­valev re­match, and that made the pro­mot­ers of this pay-per-view event (HBO, 9 p.m. ET) just a lit­tle bit tight un­der the col­lar.

Dur­ing the fi­nal news con­fer­ence Thurs­day for the fight, Michael Yor­mark, pres­i­dent of Roc Na­tion, Jay Z’s com­pany that pro­motes Ward, said this fight card was le­git­i­mately a huge sport­ing event, “Not the money-grab­bing spec­ta­cle that will hap­pen later this year.”

In ad­dress­ing a few of the news me­dia be­fore Thurs­day’s news con­fer­ence, Main Events Pres­i­dent Kathy Duva, who pro­motes Ko­valev, called Wed­nes­day’s an­nounce­ment, “a kick in the teeth. I looked on Google to­day to see what sto­ries were up there, and it was all May­weather and McGre­gor and the cir­cus.”

Ward, who comes into this fight with a 31-0 record, is ex­cited about the May­weather-McGre­gor fight.

“I’m go­ing to watch it. I’m a ca­sual MMA fan, so I know a lit­tle about McGre­gor, and I have my thoughts on how it’s go­ing to go,” he said Thurs­day. “And the buildup is go­ing to be in­sane.”

His thoughts on how it will go down? “I just can’t wrap my brain around McGre­gor hav­ing any an- swers for Floyd, even at 40 years old,” he said. “On the flip side, McGre­gor’s a big guy. He’s got pride. He’s com­ing, and he has a sneaky, dynamite left hand.

“The pres­sure is re­ally on Floyd, be­cause there’s zero room for er­ror. And it’s go­ing to be tricky for McGre­gor not to be able to take down or kick, and he’s got to work on that stuff over the next two to three months. The left hand is the main thing Floyd has to watch out for.

“But Floyd should still take care of busi­ness. But I’m still shocked and sur­prised they got it done.”

John David Jack­son, Ko­valev’s trainer, didn’t have a prob­lem with the an­nounce­ment or with the fight.

“Lis­ten, if you can make money in boxing, make it,” he said. “Is it a good fight? Floyd’s go­ing to beat his brains in. This guy’s never fought in a boxing match. Come on. Are you se­ri­ous? But if the fans pay for it and Floyd can make some money and the other guy can make some, and it’s hon­est money, make it. God bless ’em.”

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