ATLANTA, Georgia’s Darnell Boone is the only man to have fought both Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward in the pro ranks. Boone famously floored fellow American Ward in their November 2005 six-rounder, before losing via unanimous verdict. He has also twice shared a ring with Kovalev. In October 2010, he dropped a split eight-round decision to the Russian, and suffered a second-session stoppage defeat in the rematch in June 2012.

Here, Boone analyses this Saturday’s (November 19) Las Vegas light-heavyweight superfight between his two illustrious former opponents, and picks a winner.

“Andre Ward is a great fighter. He’s worked very hard to get where he is today. He’s smart, cagey and real crafty. Sergey Kovalev is a great fighter too. He can do more than people give him credit for. Some people look at his high knockout percentage and just think he can only punch, but he can box a bit too. Sometimes he can be a bit overzealous and clumsy when he rushes in to attack, which leaves him off balance. He can’t afford to let this happen against an intelligent fighter like Ward.

“However, I don’t think Ward is used to light-heavyweight yet – he doesn’t look comfortable carrying the extra weight. When he was fighting at super-middleweight, he’d move around the ring a lot. At light-heavyweight, he seems less mobile, and he’s staying in the pocket too long. I can’t see how you can beat a puncher like Kovalev if you stay in the pocket too long. That’s why I’m going with Kovalev to win this fight.

“Ward’s recent opponents have been nowhere near the calibre of Kovalev – they haven’t even been a similar style to him. Whereas Kovalev has got experience against good fighters like Bernard Hopkins and Isaac Chilemba, who also share similarities to Ward. The momentum is with Kovalev, as he’s been consistently active, while Ward hasn’t. When you think about it, Ward hasn’t really been hit properly since I knocked him down [in November 2005]. You have to wonder, how will he react to being hit by the type of power that Kovalev has? I think it’ll be tough for him to handle. That’s why I’m going for Kovalev to win by late stoppage.”