Andre Ward favored vs. Sergey Kovalev in Light Heavyweight title rematch

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The familiarity factor underlies why the sharps have given the betting edge to Andre Ward in his rematch against Sergey Kovalev.

Ward is the -160 favorite against Kovalev in the betting matchup for their light heavyweight title fight at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Saturday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Ward won by an unanimous decision – each judge’s scorecard was 114-113 – in their first fight last November, which was also in Las Vegas.

Kovalev, who is 30-1-1 with 26 knockouts in his career, has the distinction of being one of just two men to knock down Ward in the ring. The Russian, who has a slight reach advantage against Ward (72 inches to 71), is the more powerful puncher of the two, as shown when he controlled the early rounds of their first meeting.

The +130 price on the boxing odds is enticing, given that a different evaluation in a couple of rounds might have led to Kovalev getting the decision in the match.

If the upset is to happen, it will probably involve Kovalev finishing the match relatively early. The latest that any of Kovalev’s knockouts have occurred is the eighth round. That said, realizing that goal is easier said than done against Ward, who is very elusive.

Ward, who is 31-0 with 15 knockouts, adapted adroitly against Kovalev in the first fight, working inside to immobilize his punching power. That first fight could end up being a prologue to a more decisive victory this time, since Ward, as the better all-around boxer, has the capability of controlling the tempo and limiting Kovalev from throwing the kind of devastating combinations that can set up a knockout (or knockdown) punch.

Ward can be counted on to stick with his game plan, which would likely involve working the body to wear down Kovalev.

A Ward win by knockout seems to be the least probable outcome, since the champion typically doesn’t have to risk going for the knockout in order to keep his belts. Eight of Ward’s last 10 fights have gone the distance with him winning by an unanimous decision, while the other two were stopped in rounds nine and 10 by technical knockout.

Canelo Alvarez withdraws from May 5 fight with Golovkin

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Canelo Alvarez has withdrawn from next month’s middleweight title fight with Gennady Golovkin, two months after Alvarez twice tested for a banned substance.

The May 5 fight in Las Vegas was to have been a rematch of the draw they fought last September. But on March 5, Alvarez’s promoters, Golden Boy Promotions, announced he twice tested positive for the steroid clenbuterol in February. They blamed contaminated meat, and Alvarez agreed to random drug testing.

It was unlikely the Nevada State Athletic Commission would approve the fight after it temporarily suspended Alvarez, who could face a longer suspension.

Alvarez is to appear before the commission April 18 concerning the positive tests. Golden Boy President Eric Gomez said Tuesday the promoters were advised Alvarez likely would not be cleared to fight May 5.

“I have always been a clean fighter and I always will be a clean fighter,” Alvarez said Tuesday during a conference call. “I want to prove without a doubt that I have never intentionally ingested clenbuterol. I have nothing to hide and I want to be open and transparent through this process. . I have never taken illegal substances and this is no different.”

Golovkin is hoping to fight a different opponent at T-Mobile Arena on May 5, but it won’t approach the huge event that the rematch with Alvarez would have been. It’s possible the two could meet later this year, depending on any sanctions placed on the Mexican fighter.

Golovkin, of Kazakhstan, publicly doubted that tainted meat caused Alvarez’s positive test.

“Again with Mexican meat? Come on,” Golovkin said in March. I told you, it’s not Mexican meat. This is Canelo. This is his team. This is his promotion. … Canelo is cheating. They’re using these drugs, and everybody is just trying to pretend it’s not happening.”

Alvarez-Triple G fight in jeopardy on drug complaint

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Nevada boxing regulators have filed a formal complaint against Canelo Alvarez for doping violations, putting his May 5 middleweight title rematch with Gennady Golovkin in jeopardy.

Alvarez could be suspended for a year for testing positive twice for the performance-enhancing drug Clenbuterol in random urine tests conducted in his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico, in February.

An April 18 hearing was set on the complaint by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, replacing an earlier April 10 hearing that had been set. The hearing is just two weeks before the fight, making it doubtful the fight will proceed on that date.

Nevada boxing regulations call for a one-year ban for first violations, though it can be cut in half at the commission’s discretion. Even if Alvarez gets a six-month suspension, the fight would not take place until August at the earliest.