Ward vs. Kovalev II Oakland Press Conference
Photos: Khristopher Sandifer - Roc Nation Sports
On Tuesday at the Oakland Marriott in Oakland, CA,
Unified Light Heavyweight World Champion Andre "SOG"
Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) and former Unified Light Heavyweight
World Champion Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev (30-1-1, 26
KOs)formally addressed the media regarding their
highly-anticipated rematch on Saturday, June 17 at the
Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The
championship event, presented by Corona Extra, will be
produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View®
beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.
Tickets for Ward-Kovalev 2: "The Rematch" go on sale to
the public on Friday, April 14 at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00
a.m. PT. Tickets priced at $1,255, $755, $505, $355,
$255 and $105 not including applicable service charges
will be available on axs.com and at the Mandalay Bay
Events Center box office.
Below is what the fighters and dais guests had to say at
the press conference:
Andre "S.O.G." Ward - Unified Light Heavyweight World
"I appreciate everybody for coming out today. It's
always good to be home in the Bay Area. It's amazing how
in a short time, eight, nine, ten years, we put the Bay
on the map in terms of the boxing world. Oakland used to
be a major fight town, and we got away from it. But
through myself and many other young fighters, contenders
who may not have had opportunities that I was afforded,
we're doing our part to continue to represent the Bay in
a major way and that's a beautiful thing.
"I'm excited about this rematch. These are the things I
dreamed about as a kid. I love it. I love the back and
forth, some people being with me and some people not
being with me. I don't mind the stuff they talk about on
social media. That's perception. I try and deal in the
"At the end of the day, you've got to see me on June 17,
we've got to fight. I don't care what you say, I don't
care what the team says. That's going to make headlines.
That's all good and part of the business. I understand
the business very well and I'm good with that. But if
you guys know me - the boxing world knows me, the Bay
Area knows me - I don't have to do a lot of talking. To
my young guys coming up, you don't have to talk a lot.
Just show up when you're supposed to show up. Lock in
and do what you got to do to prepare, and when it's time
in that biggest moment when the lights come on, find a
way to get it done.
"Boxing right now is not like it used to be. It's a
climate right now where there's a lot of talking. Guys
don't do what they say they're going to do. They don't
perform and then they find excuses on why they didn't
perform. There's only a handful of guys in history that
I know that talked and then backed it up. We don't have
a lot of that today. So, it's okay to not be the loudest
talker in the room, but when it's time to shine, be that
guy. Be the hardest worker. And another thing, I want to
encourage every fighter in this room - you don't let
anybody beat you before you get in the ring. I don't
care what you say, where you're from, what your
reputation is, it's a healthy respect you have for an
opponent to prepare physically and mentally, you got to
have that. But you don't let anybody - media,
broadcasters, fighters, anybody - beat you before you
get in the ring. You make them earn it. And if they do
it, tip your hat to them and give it credit. But you're
not beating me on reputations. This is the first time
this team has met a team where that stuff isn't working.
You beat me, you're going to earn it.
"I hope he's the best he can be. I hope he makes the
adjustments he's supposed to make. We're going to get
ready. We're not taking it for granted. That's what big
rematches and big fights are all about. I want the best
Sergey. I want his team to be focused. I want him to be
focused and I know my team is going to be focused. Let's
see what happens. The question I have for him and his
team is, with all that loud talking, who are y'all
trying to convince? Me or him?"
Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev - Former Unified Light
Heavyweight World Champion
"The other side is saying I have to prove a lot, I have
to show a lot. I don't need to prove or show anything. I
showed and proved everything on November 19. Anybody who
hasn't seen that or doesn't think that, you're going to
see it on June 17. This is what I promise and this is
what I'm going to do. The ones who think about Andre
Ward's victory, you can still pray for him because I'm
going to show it on June 17. He got those belts somehow.
I think June 17 is going to be the day everybody's going
to see the way it's supposed to be."
Michael Yormark - Roc Nation President & Chief of
Branding and Strategy
"Hello Oakland! We are so happy to be here today. Today
is a truly special day for this community, for this
city. Oakland is synonymous with hard work, toughness,
loyalty and pride. Today the native son returns. A man
who represents all of those characteristics will stand
before you, and unlike many in the professional sports
world, Andre Ward is here to fight for Oakland! The best
boxer in the world, the face of his sport, the hero and
icon of this historic town - he fights for you. He did
so last November, when he staged an epic comeback
against dangerous Sergey Kovalev, and emerged
victorious. After Andre's win, there was a lot of talk,
a lot of debate, a lot of speculation, a lot of excuses.
But Oakland doesn't make excuses, Oakland doesn't talk,
"In one of his latest posts, Sergey said Andre 'slaps
like woman'. Grammatical issues aside, on behalf of all
the strong Oakland women in the audience today I'd like
to say 'thank you Sergey for the compliment'. As someone
who has spent the better part of the past three decades
promoting sports and entertainment events, I'll give
Sergey a lot of credit - he had some great soundbites in
New York yesterday. He said 'Andre wears a crown'.
Actually Sergey, they are belts, you should know, I
think a couple of them used to be yours. He said he
dislikes Andre - which brings the number of people here
in Oakland today that dislike Andre up to a total of
two: you and Kathy. But in all seriousness, the stakes
could not be higher for this rematch and when Sergey
says Andre 'will not show up for this fight,' that tells
me he hasn't done his research. Andre has built his
career on shining brightest in the biggest moments. June
17 is the biggest of moments - more than just wins and
championship belts, this fight will ultimately dictate
the fate of each fighter's legacy.
"This is the type of fight that is decided by pride,
guts, toughness, overcoming adversity, and who just
wants it more. For Andre Ward, being raised by the city
of Oakland is his ultimate advantage. He was born with
incredible talent and ability, but Oakland gave him his
toughness, his pride and his uncanny ability to stare
down any challenge, and dominate it. June 17 will be no
different - at the end of the night there will be only
one champion, and there will be no excuses."
Kathy Duva - CEO of Main Events
"If Andre Ward is half as tough in the ring as his
promoter talks, I suppose Sergey may have his hands
full. But we are coming to Las Vegas in June and Sergey
has one goal in mind and that is to make sure that the
winner actually wins the fight this time.
"Sergey Kovalev is probably the biggest perfectionist
I've ever met. I've seen him walk away from fights that
he knocked his opponent out in two rounds, and then
apologize for his performance. Everybody keeps talking
about excuses on the other side, and nobody's making
any. He is blaming himself, he has apologized to his
fans for not making that win emphatic enough so that
people could not take it from him because, with all the
respect in the world to Andre Ward, he didn't win
Sergey's belts they were taken from Sergey."
James Prince - Manager of Andre Ward
"We're excited about June 17, as we were the past year
when we took care of Goliath over here. We know what we
had to do with them, and now June 17 is right around the
corner. I don't know if Sergio's manager repeated
everything that Sergio was saying. It seemed to be a
disconnection going on. I don't know if he wanted to say
what he was saying. I think they're confused today as
they're going to be on June 17 in the ring when he sees
he can't accomplish the things he wants to accomplish.
"I said it to him yesterday and I'll reiterate it today.
For some reason, I get the feeling that he thinks
somebody is scared of him. Bullies think that way. He
feels like he can say things and impose fear in men of
God's heart. I told him men of God, we don't fear
nothing because we know no weapon formed against us
shall prosper. I know Andre Ward doesn't need any help
with him, with the threats he's making and feeling like
he wants to hit Andre Ward in his head. A word to the
wise, to all that's listening - do what you got to do in
the ring, because you're in a place that's called town
business. We don't play those kinds of games outside of
the ring. Let's stay focused and attempt to try and hit
him in the head in the ring, because you're going to
have problems with that. But you'll have real big
problems outside of the ring.
"Andre Ward's team means something to him. When we
speak, our words carry value. For you to get up here and
act like what we're saying doesn't mean anything, maybe
that's how it goes on in Russia but in the United States
of America we put value in what we say. Once again, the
United States of America shall be victorious on June 17,
and no weapons formed against us shall prosper."
Egis Klimas - Manager of Sergey Kovalev
"Talking is very, very cheap. Trust me, I've been in
this business for a while, and I've seen it many times.
Managers, trainers, promoters coming in and talking a
lot of shit into the microphone. But then it comes to
the night, these are the two men that are going to go in
the ring, and they're going to fight. Nothing to do with
the promotion, nothing to do with the manager, nothing
to do with the trainers. Trainers might be giving them
the advice, but these two guys are going to survive.
"You can't lie to the people's eyes with what they saw
on November 19. I'm not going to talk about it. I'm not
going to go there because it's already history. Forget
about it. I want everybody to see who's going to be
coming to Vegas on June 17, what is going to happen. I
want to thank everybody who's involved in this fight and
putting it together, HBO Pay-Per-View. I want to thank
as always the media because without you guys nobody will
know what happened here."
Virgil Hunter - Trainer of Andre Ward
"It's a good fight coming June 17 against the most
dangerous and most feared light heavyweight in the
world, Sergey Kovalev against a lucky victorious man in
Andre Ward. So, I guess this fight here will pretty much
settle it. I think if you look at the realistic facts of
it all, I think only Sergey's been in the media talking.
I think Mr. Klimas shouldunderstand that we haven't said
a word. The other side has talked about ending people's
careers to knocking you out to insulting God almighty.
All that's coming from this side so we understand what
goes on and I think it's a lot of doubt, it's a lot of
anger. I don't see Coach Jackson here today and to be
honest I don't expect to see him June 17 because you got
to put the blame somewhere.
"I'm looking for a real good fight. Sergey Kovalev is
definitely not underestimated. I don't have a problem
saying that before we fought I was a fan of his. I'm
still a fan of his. I just won't be a fan of his on June
17. This is not me blowing smoke. I admire his skill. I
always knew that if we came across each other that it
was going to be a tough fight, difficult fight, and a
fight of attrition. And I expect the same thing June 17.
"I think Andre said it best when he said somebody's will
was going to be broke in that fight. But it would be
nice to go into that without biting the hand that fed
you. Everybody's an expert from the reporters to the
announcers when it comes to judging a fight. All of a
sudden, they were all wrong that night. So, I think
that's an insult to what goes on in boxing. I think it
wasn't right. I think it was wrong particularly since
HBO has built Sergey into the star that he rightfully
is. Like I said before and I'll say today, I'll
challenge anybody to sit with me and show me where he
won the fight. He fought a hell of a fight because he's
a hell of a fighter, but he didn't win the fight.
"So, I guess all of the answers will be answered June
17. My advice is relax, don't be uptight. You can't
drink year in and year out and expect at some point for
it not to catch up to you and I would bet money that if
we could go internally and see inside that that's one of
the causes that's causing him to get fatigued now. It's
not the overtraining, it's not this and it's not that.
It's just guys are standing up and going 12 rounds now.
But you can't drink vodka year in and year out and
expect on fight night to fight somebody like Andre."
Tony Walker - Vice President, HBO Pay-Per-View
"On behalf of my Executive Vice President Peter Nelson
and the rest of the staff at HBO I'd like to thank
everybody for coming out to talk some big-time boxing
today. First, I want to thank Michael and Kathy and
their staff at Roc Nation and Main Events. It's not easy
putting big time fights together no matter how much
everybody wants it - and the fighters wanted it. The
promoters worked and we have here June 17 one of the
biggest sporting events of the year.
"I would also like to thank, as Michael did, the
community of Oakland. This has always been a boxing
city. We have great viewership numbers from Oakland and
the entire Bay Area no matter who seems to fight. So, we
appreciate the support - we love the support you give
Andre. A great home-grown guy in every way and we know
that we're going to do some big business here in the
Oakland area and throughout the Bay Area for the fight.
"I would just like to say that the fight will be
distributed by all the usual distributors, the cable,
the satellite and telephone companies and I guarantee
you a good picture, great sound, and a great broadcast
that night for the suggested retail price of $54.95. We
think we have the best broadcast team in the business
and its going to be a fun night to gather friends and
the family for a great sporting event.
"I would just say that when a lot is on the line, as
there is in this fight, there's drama - and there's no
better TV then when drama is involved. So, thank you
very much and we hope if we don't see you in Las Vegas
hopefully you'll get a chance to watch it on HBO