Main events promoter Kathy Duva has been involved in boxing since 1979 and is now set to feature her company’s top star Sergey Kovalev in the toughest fight of his career against former super middleweight champion, Andre Ward. The match brings two of the top five pound for pound fighters in the world against each other, in a fight to see who is the top light heavyweight in the world.
I recently had a chance to speak to Kathy Duva to get her thoughts on the event and what she thinks of these two undefeated boxers facing each other. Duva also talks about the keys to beating Andre Ward and what she thinks of Andre Ward’s lack of activity in recent years. Additionally, Kathy speaks on Kovalev’s last fight against Isaac Chilemba and gives her official prediction for Kovalev vs. Ward. Here is what Kathy Duva had to say.
Robert Brown: Sergey Kovalev will be taking on Andre Ward for the linear light heavyweight title. What are your thoughts on the fight?
Kathy Duva: I think it’s the best fight that has come up in a very long time. We are pitting two of the best fighters in the world, both undefeated and in their primes. It’s a 50-50 fight, I just don’t think it gets any better than this in our sport.
Robert Brown: The last big mega fight was Mayweather vs. Pacquiao and it was a big disappointment for casual fans. Do you think this fight will be great and bring people back to the sport?
Kathy Duva: I sure hope so. This fight is everything that fight should have been. Both of them are in their primes, both have their careers on the line. What we got with Pacquiao and Mayweather was two guys fortifying their retirement accounts. They fought like they were, they reacted like that when the fight was over, it was such a big disappointment. This fight doesn’t have the notoriety and press that the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight had but it really is the fight that deserves to be paid attention to. We’re just thrilled to be able to present this fight and be a part of it.
Robert Brown: Do you think Andre Ward’s inactivity will be a an advantage to Sergey in this fight?
Kathy Duva: Conventional wisdom say that’s the case but I think Andre is a very special athlete. I certainly am not going into this with a great deal of confidence in feeling that this is going to be about Andre’s deficiencies, it’s going to be about Sergey’s abilities and we’re all expecting Andre Ward to be the best Andre Ward that he can possibly be.
Robert Brown: Did Sergey’s last fight with Isaac Chilemba give you worries about the Ward fight at all?
Kathy Duva: No, Sergey was back in Russia for the first time since becoming a star and becoming a world champion. We knew he was going to be distracted, we knew he was going to have a hard time because we’ve seen this movie before, he was not concerned, he was supremely confident.
My feeling about putting him in with Isaac was that it would do him more good to be in with an opponent who was going to present problems for him, rather than somebody that he just hits once and the guy goes down. We wanted him to be in with an opponent who was going to make him solve a problem in the ring, who was going to remind him that there’s people who box better than others and are more talented than others. Isaac is an incredibly underrated fighter and we knew it was going to be a tough fight. When I saw how tough this fight was – and lets be honest, he only lost about two rounds, but we’re not used to seeing him any round – it was the lesson he needed at that time and I think it worked.
John and Sergey have been more in sync now than ever. When Sergey was in Russia, he was being told five different ways, he wasn’t focused and he was the first to admit after the fight that he hadn’t prepared properly. We picked Chilemba because we knew he would give him problems.
Robert Brown: What sort of historical significance does this fight have being that we got the two best light heavyweights in the world fighting each other?
Kathy Duva: They are the two best light heavyweights but they are also two of the top five fighters in the world pound for pound fighting each other. There’s only been two other times that two undefeated fighters faced each other for the pound for pound title and those were Meldrick Taylor and Julio Cesar Chavez, and Oscar De La Hoya and Tito Trinidad. All four of those gentlemen were undefeated at the time, and that is what is happening here.
It’s one of the reasons we know this fight is going to be great because Sergey is not going to let Andre Ward take rounds off or just box around. Sergey cuts off the ring better than anyone I have ever seen. He wants this more than anything and he is going to do whatever it takes to win, and I know Andre Ward feels the same way. Both of their legacies are at stake, both of their careers are at stake, both of their undefeated records. This is not a fight where the guys are just showing up for the money and that usually is the prescription for a great fight.