Ward vs Kovalev odds: Misleading or on-point?

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Ward vs Kovalev odds: Misleading or on-point?

The 2016 Fight of the Year is upon us... Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev.

There have been some quality light heavyweight match-ups since the division's inception, but few have had the potential to capture the imagination of the public like Ward vs Kovalev.

This fight is one of the best match-ups over the last ten years and the biggest, most significant fight of 2016, and will certainly make its mark in the annals of light heavyweight history. 

Ward vs Kovalev odds
“I really believe this could end up being a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate," Jay Rood, Vice President of Race & Sports for MGM Resorts International, recently told FightNews.com.

"Usually fighters in good form don’t meet up. Because of that, this fight opened close, has remained so and, most likely, will close so."

"It’s not very often that a fight in Las Vegas that’s this significant is this close in terms of odds. Ward opened at -145 and he now is at -150. I don’t believe it will change much from here.”

So what are the oddsmakers saying?

According to bet365, Andre Ward is a -160 favorite while the champion, Kovalev, is a +130 underdog. And most odds favor Ward slightly.

Say what? How can an undefeated, dominant champion like Kovalev be the underdog against an opponent moving up in weight?

Answer: In evenly matched fights, such as Ward vs Kovalev, experts tend to think the safer money is with the perceived natural boxer or technician. And while Kovalev is an awesome tactician, Ward is believed to have the advantage in 'hitting without being hit.'

“The public is perceiving this fight, right or wrong, as ‘Boxer vs. Puncher,'” added Rood. “Usually the boxer draws the ‘sharp’ action. Most of the ‘sharp’ money will be on the boxer."

Sugar Ray Leonard vs Marvin Hagler (1987) is a fine example of a close fight between two top fighters with contrasting styles. A case could probably be made for either fighter winning. But not surprisingly, Leonard, the fighter with the smoother, more technical style, convinced 2 of the 3 judges he'd done enough to win.

In a match-up between a technical boxer and brutish brawler, the former, whether the favorite or underdog, will usually get a small bump in the odds.

... But is Andre Ward the consummate boxer? ... And are Sergey Kovalev's boxing skills underrated?

Despite being the perceived brawler, Kovalev is the more offensive of the two and he's more likely to use his jab as a range-finder, and to set up powershots and to keep an opponent at bay.

Ward vs Kovalev may be Sugar Ray Leonard vs Thomas Hearns I all over again. The boxer, Leonard, found success brawling while the puncher, Hearns, was out-boxing the smaller Leonard until the former was stopped in Round 14.

During the interview with Tru School Sports in April, Kovalev's trainer, John David Jackson, questioned whether Ward is a true 'stick and move' boxer.

"He's [Andre Ward] good at what he does because he neutralizes ... He grabs, he holds, he mauls you."

"Yeah, he uses physical strength to beat you. Not his boxing."

Jackson went on to imply that Ward will not be able to use those tactics against Kovalev, insisting Sergey is a little bigger and stronger than Andre.

Who will be the boxer tonight? And which fighter will implement brawling tactics?

Given we really don’t know who the boxer will be, odds for this fight couldn't be closer.

Are the Ward vs Kovalev odds well-placed?


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