Andre Ward says he's determined to beat Sergey Kovalev during their rematch tonight (June 17), after Kovalev circulated a racist meme on social media. The contested meme, which has since been deleted, shows Ward saying both the f- and n-word in a parodied, fake conversation between the two boxers. Ward, who identifies as a devout Christian, found this depiction to be offensive.
The light heavyweight champ told Complex on June 12, "The only thing I’ve noticed about him [Kovalev] that’s different since the fight ended is just the lack of mental toughness that this guy has."
He continued: "With all the excuse making and all the things he’s been saying since the last fight, those are some deeper issues."
Since their original matchup last November, many shots have been fired between Ward and Kovalev. Immediately following the fight, the latter took to social media to claim that he had been robbed of his belts, and that the fight had not been judged accurately. However the beef has continued to build up, with issues like racism and revenge clouding the air between the two boxers.
With all of the comments that have been made since the boxers met last year, Ward told TMZ that "He's culturally sound enough to know some of the things he's been doing are racially motivated. It's more motivation, definitely more motivation," He said. Ward followed up by insinuating that he's going to make Kovalev pay for what he considers undeniably racist.