Buzz overshadows Ward-Kovalev fight
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.”