FORMER unified light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev claims he was “empty” for his first fight with Andre Ward in November, during which the American rose from an early knockdown to win on points.
Kovalev suffered his first professional defeat and lost his WBA, WBO and IBF world titles but this weekend gets his chance at revenge in Las Vegas.
He insists that he overtrained for the first meeting and vows to right those wrongs on Saturday night, despite Ward’s claims that he has the Russian figured out.
“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,” Sergey said.
“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.
“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.”
While the build-up to the first fight was fairly respectful, things have become heated this time round, particularly as Kovalev maintains that he deserved to be awarded the decision back in November.
“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,” Kovalev continued.
“I appreciate him giving me the opportunity to get my belts back and on June 17 it’s going to be a different fight.”