Ward out to make a statement in Kovalev rematch
Andre Ward wants to put any doubt about who is the better boxer to bed by "making a statement" in his rematch with Sergey Kovalev on Saturday.
Ward claimed the WBA (Undisputed), IBF and WBO light heavyweight titles from Kovalev in November in a closely contested bout that saw all three judges score it 114-113 to the American.
Kovalev was unhappy with the decision and has consistently called Ward a "paper champion" ever since, as the animosity between the pair has grown.
A rematch in Las Vegas this weekend gives both men a chance to set the record straight, and Ward is intending to leave the result in no doubt.
"I think I proved that [I was the better boxer] in the first fight," he told Omnisport.
"This fight is not about proving anything, it's about leaving a statement, that's what it's about, simple and plain, making a statement. To him, to his team, to the judges, to the world."
Some have suggested Kovalev's attitude towards the champion has been disrespectful but it does not bother Ward, the 33-year-old remaining focused on winning in the ring on Saturday.
He added: "At the end of the day fighters say a lot of different things for a lot of different reasons
"I know he respects me in the ring. As far as respecting me as a man, it's okay if he doesn't respect me because I never asked for his respect."
And the champion expects the second meeting between the pair to be an even better contest than their first bout last year.
"Kovalev says he's better, he's made adjustments, he knows where he made mistakes and I'm certainly not going to be the same fighter I was last November, so those are the ingredients of a tremendous fight," he said.
"I know I'm not backing down, I'm not taking a step back, and he says he's not taking a step back. I'm certainly not in the mood to give up the titles I worked for last November, so those are just ingredients for a great, great fight, hopefully better than the first fight.
"When I watched the fight, I wasn't pleased with the performance.
"We did some good things and we won, obviously, but I just know instinctively there's another level I can go to and I think the fans are going to see that level come Saturday."