Can Andre Ward transcend boxing like Mayweather?


    LAS VEGAS — Andre Ward always strolls around with the confidence any elite performer should.

    With a purpose.

    It’s one day after a contentious press conference in New York to formally announce his fight against Sergey Kovalev, a matchup that will determine pound-for-pound supremacy, and Ward already is in fight mood.

    “He’s just a bully,” Ward says, referring to his Russian foe who has mocked fallen opponents and admitted he extended fights to dish out a real beating.

    And guess what? What Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) does best is bully the bully. The last American male to bring home Olympic gold, Ward is perhaps the inside fighter in the game, equally adept at dictating the pace and neutralizing his opponent’s best weapon.

    It will be no easy task Saturday (9 p.m. ET, HBO PPV) at T-Mobile Arena. Kovalev, who holds three light heavyweight titles, is one of the best fighters in the game. He’s a brutal puncher with an excellent jab who can really dig to the body.

    The matchup has been in the works for over a year, and it’s one worth waiting for. Should Ward win, and do so in impressive fashion, just maybe he’ll finally ascend to his rightful place as an American boxing star.

    And why not? Ward is affable, thoughtful and so well-spoken. He often fills in as an analyst for HBO.

    Sure, his style isn’t for everyone. His safety-first approach turns some fans off. His mastery of distance and range is appreciated by sweet science enthusiasts, though, and with good reason.

    The 32-year-old is simply one of the best talents to come around in some…

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