Photo Credits: Kristopher Sandifer/ Roc Nation Sports
OAKLAND — Andre Ward held a special media workout on Halloween to discuss his November 19 fight against Sergey Kovalev. The former super middleweight champion spoke in depth about his odds against Kovalev, and being a mentor to young pros like Shakur Stevenson and Claressa Shields.
I feel that this fight with Kovalev is 50-50. That’s how I approach all of my big fights. I don’t go into the fight thinking, ‘I’ve got a clear-cut advantage here’ or ‘I’ve got to run through this guy.’ Personally, for me, I can’t roll like that. I’ve got to keep myself honest, stay on my grind, keep my head down and force myself to keep working. I truly believe Kovalev is everything they say he is, and I’m everything that I’ve shown over the years.
There are always different game plans, nuances, different things you’re working on but I respect every fight that I fight. I don’t get caught up in the whole puncher thing, anybody can get you out of there if you get hit right. I don’t think I’d be sitting here in this position right now if I hadn’t had these highs and lows. We’ve got to find a way to get it done, and we’re going to find a way to get it done. I don’t care what he’s got in his gloves, who he’s knocked out or what he’s done. My job is to get my hand raised, and that’s what we’re focused on.
I have days where I do some type of cardio in the morning – sprints, distant running – then go back to training camp to get some rest and eat. Then we come to the gym and spar and hit the heavy bag. It’s a monotonous process when you’re in training camp, and that’s pretty much every day. Of course we take days off to rest the body and be smart, but it’s really the same thing every day. As you get closer, you start to pull back a little bit so you don’t over train. That’s normally the week of the fight, so up until the Saturday before the fight, you’re full steam ahead. 100 miles an hour.
Typically, Virgil and I will go through our process together. He watches a lot more film than I do. He’s up until 3:00 a.m. or 4:00 a.m.watching film. As I’ve gotten older, I watch less film. I don’t need to see 10 fights to see tendencies and certain things. I know what I need to see. I may go back and watch a round here and there, but I try and leave room for my instincts. I’m very instinctual. You’ve got to be able to think on the fly thinking on the highest level. I leave room for that. It’s not a checklist you go down. You can’t get into a ring thinking like that. I just believe that who I am and what I have is enough, and that’s what I’m standing on.
Having young guys like Shakur Stevenson around, it starts to make me feel old because I used to be that guy at Roy Jones’s camp, Floyd Mayweather’s camp, hanging around Bernard Hopkins. You see yourself in them. It’s a little weird, because you’re like, ‘man, now I’m the OG.’ But it’s also a beautiful thing because we need more of that. We need champions and top contenders and just fighters in general to open up the door and allow the young guys on the way to be shown how it’s done.
I’m honored for Claressa Shields to say that I am her idol. I admire her story, what she’s come from, and think that she’s amazing in the ring. She’s the real deal. I watch her, I pick up things from her. For her to have two Gold medals is amazing. For her to make her pro debut on this fight card is a beautiful, beautiful thing. I think it’s a perfect situation.
It’s a beautiful thing to be fighting in Vegas. I’m excited. What better time than now in this stage in my career. I’m just excited to continue to prepare so I can do my part to give the fans their money’s worth, those that pay to be there and those paying to watch it. That’s what I’m focused on, and I’m extremely happy to be a part of it. T-Mobile is a new arena, and a new chapter, and to be a part of it is a beautiful thing.