So, Andre Ward dominated his fight with Sullivan Barrera. That alone is not a surprise. In fact, nothing about the entire evening was unexpected. The location, the opponent selected, the result, and the aftermath. Social media is blowing up with everything from "Ward would get destroyed fighting Kovalev that way!", to "He's the second coming of Floyd!" There are many reasons to believe either of these extremes. Ward did throw a lot less and land a lot more. Only Mayweather seems to do this with any consistency... having a 45 connect percentage to his opponents 16% for example. However, the jabs and hooks that Ward ignored from Barrera would definitely have a different effect should Kovalev land them.
Kovalev even said he wants to face Ward in Oakland. On the surface, this looks like overconfidence, when actually, Sergey is just trying to stay in his own comfort zone. He has been making money and history beating his opponents in their own backyards. Showing up in Quebec for many fights, especially 2 with Jean Pascal. he also beat Cleverly in Wales, and Hopkins in Atlantic City (which is a faraway suburb of Philadelphia, in boxing terms). Oakland poses a new challenge to him, as much as Ward does. No one knows him in Russia or Florida, his two homes... and the last time he fought in Russia, his opponent died, so he does not exactly have fond memories of the old country. His promoter is Main Events, so there is not a big national presence built in. Unless Sergey plans on becoming huge in New Jersey soon, it will stay that way.
He has to chase the fighters to their hometowns, and that will not change anytime soon. Even if Al Haymon moves across the table for once, that will only guarantee Kovalev being back in Montreal, where all of his top 175-lbers reside. The only exception is Fonfara, who would certainly insist on fighting in Chicago or New Jersey, where the Polish fans would generate an advantage. Those who say Kovalev would destroy the Andre Ward who beat Barrera (including Barrera's trainer Abel Sanchez) are missing the big picture of Andre Ward. He fights, not only up and down to his level of competition, but to the specific opponents, themselves. He designs a plan for each opponent, and the result has always been the same.. dominance. His style is to ruin your style... whatever that may be.
We are talking about a man who won a gold medal as an American (almost an impossibility due to anti-USA judging bias in the Olympics), and did so fighting bigger men. He was a natural 165lber beating up 178lbers... and he had not had any international experience. One cannot underestimate the learning curve and powers of adjustments of Andre Ward. I'm not saying he would beat Kovalev (although I know he is capable of doing so), but throw out anything you saw against other opponents. He will be different, as required. Deep down, the fans know that... which is the main selling point of this match. It is why a fight between a man who no one has figured out, against a man who figures out everyone, is particularly intriguing.