Promoter Kathy Duva is the CEO of main events and she had been in the boxing business since 1979. Through her years in the sport, she has promoted legends like Lennox Lewis, Arturo Gatti and Evander Holyfield. This upcoming weekend Duva has the biggest star of her stable competing in the most important fight of his career, a rematch with unified light heavyweight champion Andre Ward, in a match that Duva hopes does not go the distance.
In part 1 of my interview with Kathy Duva, I get her thoughts on the rematch between Ward and Kovalev and talk to her about what she thinks Kovalev will do differently in the rematch. I also get Duva’s views on if she thinks Ward will change anything in his performance and if she believes Kovalev can win on the scorecards. Additionally, Duva gives her official prediction for Ward vs. Kovalev II. Here is what Kathy Duva had to say.
Robert Brown: Kathy, the rematch between Ward and Kovalev is coming up soon, what do you think Sergey will do different in the rematch?
Kathy Duva: I think the way he fought in the first three or four rounds he can fight for the whole fight now, that’s the difference. He doesn’t have to fight a different fight or a better fight. He was working on the mitts with John David Jackson a few weeks ago and I’ve been in gyms my whole life seeing guys hit bags and spar, but he was making a sound that sounded like a gun shot was going off every time he hit the pads. It was amazing.
Sergey’s got his power and he’s got stamina. The problem last time was stamina, it wasn’t that he couldn’t figure Ward out, or that Ward was having such an effect on him. He keeps saying that Ward punches like a girl, he doesn’t hit that hard. His problem was that he was so out of breath — and Ward even pointed it out in one of the interviews he did, and it’s true.
In the sixth round, Sergey was breathing heavy, and he’s an elite athlete, that’s not supposed to happen. What happened was that he left it in the gym, he wore himself out and he was at maximum performance for four rounds and then he dropped off a cliff. This time he just has to be there for twelve rounds.
Robert Brown: Do you expect Ward to make any changes in the rematch or do you think you have already seen the best Andre Ward?
Kathy Duva: Ward’s a great fighter and I’m not going to take anything away from him. They are both great fighters, they are ranked number one and number two in the world right now by Ring Magazine in the pound-for-pound list. They are two elite fighters and I’m sure that they both have an infinite number of adjustments that they could make. I think ultimately what this is going to come down to is Sergey’s superior strength.
People keep saying that this is a boxer versus a puncher, but they are forgetting the fact that for a guy who is supposedly a puncher, Sergey is a pretty good boxer. All of the mistakes Sergey made and all of the reasons why Ward was able to impose his will on him in the second half of the fight had more to do with Sergey’s lack of stamina than it had to do with anything mental.
When we spoke about this afterwards, we said, “You were following him around, you weren’t cutting off the ring,” and he said, “You don’t understand, I was so exhausted.” He got through that fight on nothing but guts because he had absolutely nothing from the fifth round on. I think the change in training is already making a huge difference. Sergey is incredibly confident and he’s not going to have any problems performing at that level for twelve rounds. Imagine the way he was playing with Ward for the first three or four rounds if he was able to do for the whole fight. Ward can make all the adjustments he wants, it won’t make any difference.
Robert Brown: Considering the what happened last time with the decision, are you confident that the decision can go your way, or do you think he has to knock Ward out this time?
Kathy Duva: I don’t think he has to knock Ward out, I think he has to dominate. Part of the problem with fighting a guy who has a reputation of being a boxer — whether it’s deserved or not — is that if they get through the round without getting hurt, sometimes the judges give them the rounds. Sergey is boxing every bit as much as Ward is, and yet when he makes Ward miss, he doesn’t get credit for it. When Ward make Sergey miss, he gets credit for it, and Sergey only gets credit if he hits Ward. It is what happens and it has to do with people’s preconceived notions and assumptions that they make.
Of course I went and spoke to the Nevada commission at one point and said, “Listen, we don’t want the judges to be the story this time. There are some judges out there that are the cream of the crop, the guys who never make a mistake. Please just assign those people so that we don’t have this again.” I think judges sometimes get caught up in the crowd — which was very much pro Ward — they get caught up in the idea that if you’re a boxer, then you won the round if you survived it. How is it that the champion didn’t win a single close round in that fight? Sergey knows that he has to dominate the rounds. I don’t think that he can’t win a decision, I just think that he can’t win a decision in a close fight.
Robert Brown: What is your official prediction for the rematch between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward?
Kathy Duva: I just know that it’s going to be a terrific fight. This is only the second time ever that Ring’s number one and number two fighters fought each other. The first time was when Pernell Whitaker fought Julio Cesar Chavez and Main Events helped promote that fight. That was twenty-four years ago, and this is the second time.
It’s a historic event and it involves the two best fighters in the world. If you remember, Whitaker and Chavez also ended in a controversial decision, but they never got to fight each other again. The second fight is very interesting to me. It’s going to be intriguing to see who ends on top on that, and I really do think this second fight is not going to be close like the first one, I think one guy is going to dominate the other and of course I think it’s Sergey.