Mark Henry has the Hall of Pain and Andrew Ward has the ICU Ward. Or at least he should – not that he needs a gimmick, though, seeing as how he is already the boxing betting favourite to beat Sergey Kovalev on Saturday, June 17th at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Paradise, Nevada and retain the WBA (Undisputed), IBF, and WBO light heavyweight championships, as well as in the vacant The Ring light heavyweight championship. Here are the odds for fans who bet on boxing:
Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev +135
Andre ‘S.O.G.’ Ward -155
Kovalev had a rematch clause in his contract, which actually his promoter Kathy Duva said she would exercise immediately following their first meeting. Sadly, that didn’t mean they had the rematch right there and then. Ward defeated the Russian by unanimous decision in 12 rounds on November 19th, 2016 at the T-Mobile Arena to win the aforementioned titles. Both were undefeated at the time – marking only the third match between two undefeated fighters rated in The Ring’s pound-for-pound top 5 since the magazine began its pound-for-pound rankings in 1989. It was Wards 31st victory and Kovalev’s first loss in 32 fights, but it didn’t go down without controversy. As any self-respecting foreign heel would, the Krusher accused the three American judges of screwing him.
The things is, presumably unbiased observers – and no doubt many fans who bet on boxing as well – agreed with the Kovalev camp. Commentator Larry Merchant called it a “classic hometown decision,” while author Thomas Hauser – who should really write a book about boxing betting – said that Robert Byrd’s “refereeing … more problematic than the judging.” On the other hand, Ward was knocked down for only the second time in his career. But you know what? He gets knocked down but he gets up again, you’re never gonna keep him down (shout out to Chumbawamba). S.O.G said the win was “the most important and satisfying” career and claimed that “the crowd, you could hear they thought I won.” Maybe they should implement audience voting in boxing then, like American Idol.
Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev II will be a clash between the top-two best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, as has been billed as both “The Rematch” and “No Excuses” (shout out to Alice in Chains). “I’m going to keep it short and sweet,” Ward said. “You got what you asked for – now you have to see me on June 17. This time leave the excuses at home.” Kovalev has fired back saying that Ward “is a fake champion because he didn’t deserve those belts. [He won by a] wrong decision. I believe that I won the fight. ” We don’t think American Idol allows contestants to vote for themselves, though.
In addition to the barb-trading, we have us some god old mind games. Ward’s manager James Prince and his attorney Josh Dubin told Boxingscene.com that Kovalev’s trainer John David Jackson called them about leaving Kovalev to work with Ward’s head trainer Virgil Hunter on preparing for the rematch. According to Jackson, it was Prince and Dubin who called him. Whether all of this mind-screwing will have any effect on the boxing betting odds remains to be seen.