Reports: Andre Ward, Sergey Kovalev agree to rematch

Reports: Andre Ward, Sergey Kovalev agree to rematch

Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev are reportedly going to fight again.

The highly-anticipated rematch will take place June 17th at the Mandalay Bay Casino & Resort in Las Vegas, according to multiple reports.

The "S.O.G." looks to retain the WBA/IBF/WBO light heavyweight titles he earned back in November,  after winning a controversial - yet unanimous - decision victory over "Krusher."

Ward (31-0, 15 KO) was recently named the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the sport by Ring Magazine. Kovalev (31-1-1, 26 KO) is right behind him in the No. 2 spot.

Boxing fans and pundits alike have been clamoring for a rematch since their first bout ended, as many felt Kovalev was the rightful winner. The powerful Russian controlled much of the early action, scoring a 2nd round knockdown with a stunning right hand. 

But as the fight progressed, Ward turned the tide, wearing down his opponent with thudding body shots and raking overhand rights. After 12 rounds of action, all three judges ringside scored the bout 114-113 in favor of the Oakland native.

Ward is the host of a new web series called "NBC Fights," showcasing the best of boxing and MMA in Northern California.

Follow us on Twitter: @NBCSFights.
 

Ward ready to remove any doubt in Round 2 with Kovalev

Ward ready to remove any doubt in Round 2 with Kovalev

LAS VEGAS — Andre Ward won't apologize for the close decision that Sergey Kovalev insists should have gone his way when the light heavyweights fought in November.

Still, he's eager to clear up any remaining doubts when they meet Saturday night in a 175-pound title rematch.

"I am looking forward to making a statement in this fight, and removing any doubt that may be out there," Ward said. "Some of you think I lost the fight, but you've got to look at the other side of that coin. There a lot of people who are convinced I won it."

Ward is among those people, and the fact that he rallied from a second-round knockdown to win makes him even more confident about the rematch. Kovalev faded in the first fight, and Ward plans to do everything he can to ensure that happens again.

"When he can't get you out of there he fades," Ward said. "You kind of see a theme in his fights. He's so used to people trying to get away from his power that he's able to rest between the action. He's not used to someone pushing the action."

The rematch is as intriguing as the first fight, when the question was whether Kovalev's vaunted power would carry the day against a fighter who never really excites fans but always leaves the ring with his hand raised. Ward, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist, hasn't lost since age 12, though Kovalev is convinced there should be one big loss on his record.

"I know I will get my belts back," Kovalev said. "I was empty in the first fight. For him it was like fighting a heavy bag."

If the matchup isn't attractive enough, the two fighters have a genuine dislike for each other they were not afraid to voice this week. There's also a bit of an undercurrent about a Russian meeting an American, though Kovalev spends much of his time in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately for both fighters, those outside boxing don't seem terribly interested. The fight at the Mandalay Bay resort is being held in a smaller arena than the first, and pay-per-view sales are expected to be tepid.

And any efforts to generate buzz this week were dashed when Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor announced their own fight.

"The people who are going to buy our fight are still going to buy it and come out," Ward said. "I don't feel like it affects me. It is what it is."

Anyone who watched the first fight would have to be intrigued by the rematch. Kovalev appeared on his way to beating Ward in November before Ward gained control midway through the fight and eked out a one-point win on all three scorecards.

Kovalev claimed he overtrained for the first bout and had nothing when he went into the ring. Regardless, he said, he plans to not only win the fight but take out his frustrations on Ward.

"When I see his face I want to bash him," Kovalev said. "I don't like this guy."

Ward (31-0, 15 knockouts) isn't about to invite Kovalev over for dinner, either. He's not happy about what he said were racist overtones in videos sent out by Kovalev and his team, and unhappy Kovalev keeps questioning the legitimacy of his win in the first fight.

"I've been through adversity in and out of the ring," Ward said. "I'm not perfect but I make an effort to be an asset to the game."

The fight will be televised on HBO pay-per-view, which has some in boxing scratching their heads. The first bout was on pay-per-view, too, and drew only a reported 150,000 buys, despite it being an attractive matchup for boxing fans.

Though Kovalev (31-1-1, 26 knockouts) made his mark as a power puncher, he was unable to put Ward away after putting him down in the first fight. Ward said that will play in his favor in the rematch.

"I'm not averse to getting hit," Ward said. "But I'm not going to put my head out there on a platter. I'm not into taking two (punches) to get one."

The fight is on: Mayweather-McGregor date officially announced

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USATSI

The fight is on: Mayweather-McGregor date officially announced

LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather Jr. said Wednesday he will come out of retirement to face UFC star Conor McGregor in a boxing match on Aug. 26.

Mayweather, who retired in September 2015 after winning all 49 of his pro fights, will face a mixed martial arts fighter who has never been in a scheduled 12-round fight at the MGM Grand arena. The fight will take place in a boxing ring and be governed by boxing rules.

Mayweather said "it's official" on his Instagram account next to a picture of both fighters.

McGregor tweeted "THE FIGHT IS ON" several minutes earlier, posting a picture of himself next to one of Mayweather's father, Floyd Sr.

Mayweather will fight at the relatively advanced age of 41 in a bout that McGregor has been pushing for months. It finally came together over the last few days, and Nevada boxing officials on Wednesday approved the date for a Mayweather Promotions bout.