By Carlos Boogs

Virgil Hunter, trainer of Andre “SOG” Ward (31-0, 15 KOs), has advised Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) to stop drinking vodka on a regular basis if he plans to have any chance of beating the Olympic gold medal winner in their upcoming rematch.

Last November in Las Vegas, Ward was knocked down in the second round, but recovered to win a twelve round unanimous decision to capture Kovalev's WBA, WBO, IBF light heavyweight titles at the T-Mobile Arena.

There were a rematch clause, which Kovalev exercised, and the second fight now takes place on Saturday, June 17 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The championship event will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View® beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.

In several interviews, Ward and his handlers have touched on what they state are industry rumors that Kovalev likes to hit the bottle on a regular basis and his drink of choice is vodka. 

Hunter believes that Kovalev's excessive drinking of vodka is what caused his fatigue issues in the second half of the first fight.

“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," Hunter said.

Hunter says they are training very hard for the second fight and in no way are they underestimating the challenge that Kovalev presents in the ring.

“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," Hunter said.