LAS VEGAS, NV (June 13, 2017) – Unified Light Heavyweight World Champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) and former titleholder Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) opened Fight Week Powered by Monster with their Grand Arrivals at Mizuya Lounge at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Tuesday, June 13, ahead of their ultimate rematch on Saturday, June 17 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The championship event, presented by Corona Extra, will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View® beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.
Below is what the fighters had to say:
Andre “S.O.G.” Ward – Unified Light Heavyweight World Champion
“I am looking forward to making a statement in this fight and answering any questions that may be out there and removing any doubt that may be out there, so I’m excited. You got to look at the other side of the coin, there’s a lot of people that thought I won the fight and he got what he asked for. Now after this, we don’t want to hear any excuses. We don’t want to hear about anything. We’re going to shut the door on this and, like I said, take all doubt and all questions off the table.
“In this sport, I have very little room for error. I always have the pressure on my side – no matter if I’m the challenger or the champion. But that’s OK because me and my team, we’ve learned how to deal with the pressure. We know how to deal with it. I come here looking forward to bringing back everything that I brought, including those belts. I’m excited. I can’t wait, we’re a couple days away. All of this talking is getting ready to be over. We’re getting ready for my favorite part, which is the fight. June 17. It’s about business, so I did what I had to do the first time. I’m looking to turn it up this time.
“The pressure is always on, man. It comes with my territory and it’s been like this since I’ve been a baby – 16 years old, 17 years old. You get to a point where you don’t run from the pressure, you embrace it. That’s what all the greats do. All I got to do is be myself and that will be enough. Everything else will take care of itself. At the highest level, you’re going to face adversity. It’s not if, it’s when. But the question is how do you respond? We responded like we were supposed to. I’m just looking forward to giving the fans another great fight in a few days here at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on June 17.
“A lot of people talk about the jab and the right hand. But if you look at the second part of the fight, he [Kovalev] wasn’t landing right hands and jabs. He had a good moment and he’s a really great fighter – I’m not taking anything away from him. That’s why I want to face the best, to be the best.
Some people thought I won, some people thought I lost. So let’s do it again and that’s the beauty of rematches in this sport. It’s nothing to get defensive about. You just lace it up, do it again and we’ll see what happens.
“I got out of that business a long time ago – trying to prove people wrong – because it’s not an even playing field. I’ve shut guys out – 120-108; 120-107 on the scorecard – and I’ve literally heard grumblings about something. If it’s not this, it’s that. You get to a place where you mature as a man, you mature as an athlete, and you make the decision that ‘I’m going to live my life in the middle.’ I appreciate the praises, but I can’t get too high with those. And the criticisms – I can’t get too low with those. People are entitled to their opinions. Let me just keep doing me and that’s really the best place to be as an athlete.
“Tactically, I obviously want to have a better start and I’m going to have a better start. That’s really what got me in my hole – the start. I’m sure he’s made some adjustments and he’s going to come harder, but I’m ready. I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do. When you prepare the way you’re supposed to – and all the boxes are checked – it’s time to go to work. And I’m going to go to work, having fun and enjoying what I do, and put on a show in the process on June 17.”
Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev – Former Unified Light Heavyweight World Champion
“You know it’s good that he’s believing himself right now, that he’s got the key for me, but he didn’t get the key. He won two rounds against me as empty Kovalev, I remember I was like a heavy bag. Just like a fighter who came in the boxing gym like one month ago. And he’s like right now, ‘oh yeah I beat the Kovalev, but he won with empty Kovalev’.
“For this fight, I definitely had to get in shape, have different emotions and different motivations. I don’t just want to get my belts back and thank boxing fans for the support. I want to thank my haters – they motivate me to keep going. I want to get my belts and I’m here for this.
“Yeah, my fists will say it. I’ve already said enough. I want to say to Team Ward – they’ve said a lot of trash to my side, my team. He will pay for everything; I promise you.
“I appreciate him giving me the opportunity to get my belts back and on June 17 it’s going to be a different fight.
“I was empty one month before the November fight. Ward fought an empty Kovalev. This time I will not be empty – Ward will be fighting Krusher. I had pushed myself so hard in the beginning of training camp that one month out I was empty. I felt so much pressure for the fight – my first fight on HBO Pay-Per-View – that I just trained too hard.”
Pictures Courtesy of Roc Nation Sports/Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos