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Promoter says Andre Ward has signed to fight Sergey Kovalev in late 2016

Promoter says Andre Ward has signed to fight Sergey Kovalev in late 2016

Sergey Kovalev celebrates after defeating Bernard Hopkins during their IBF, WBA and WBO light-heavyweight title bout on Nov. 9, 2014, in Atlantic City, N.J.

(Jewel Samad / AFP / Getty Images)

Sergey Kovalev’s promoter said unbeaten former super-middleweight champion Andre Ward has signed two agreements to fight the unbeaten Kovalev in the second half of 2016.

The compelling showdown, inked by Ward for an HBO pay-per-view bout targeted for either Las Vegas or New York, will match two of boxing’s top pound-for-pound fighters. An HBO official confirmed Ward has agreed to the meeting.

“The only way we can get from here to there is to start somewhere. We’ve started,” Kovalev promoter Kathy Duva told The Times on Friday, adding that the Russian has also signed a contract with Ward and an agreement with HBO.

The 32-year-old Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 knockouts) possesses three belts in the light-heavyweight division, and is negotiating for a June 2016 fight against World Boxing Council champion Adonis Stevenson.

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Duva said she’s making progress with Stevenson’s Canadian promoter with the help of WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman.

“All he ever wants is big fights. You don’t get to be a great fighter unless you can beat everybody and you believe you can beat everybody,” Duva said.

There is skepticism by many in the industry that Stevenson’s powerful manager, Al Haymon, would let that bout proceed on HBO pay-per-view given his alliance with Showtime and all the major networks as head of Premier Boxing Champions.

Ward (28-0, 15 KOs) told reporters Friday that he’s planning for a February bout since a knee injury he sustained in training prevented him from fighting on Saturday’s Miguel Cotto-Saul “Canelo” Alvarez undercard at Mandalay Bay.

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“Next year, I’ll have a fight like this,” Kovalev said, pointing to a large poster of Cotto-Alvarez and the excitement around him inside the media center. “I’m ready for it. When I turned pro, I was ready to fight the high-level opponents. After five years, I’m ready. Let’s do it.”

With Ward conducting a radio interview seated immediately behind Kovalev, the Russian said, “All my next fights will be big. I’ll fight all the best. Who’s ready? If you’re not ready, you’re not the best.”

Kovalev, who’ll train in Big Bear for a fight against Jean Pascal in Canada in January, said he enjoys working to build the anticipation for bigger bouts.

“The media invited me here and I came,” he said. “I enjoy conversations with people, and I enjoy seeing a lot of my friends – inside and outside of the ring.”


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