Ward is aiming to grab Kovalev's unified light-heavyweight crown in a long-anticipated collision at the T-Mobile Arena.
Ward, the 2004 Olympic champion and former super middleweight world champion, is aiming to grab Kovalev's unified light-heavyweight crown in a long-anticipated collision at the T-Mobile Arena.
The bout is being promoted under the banner "Pound for Pound," a 12-round scrap billed as a showdown to determine who deserves to be regarded as the best fighter on the planet.
While some critics might be inclined to argue in favor of other fighters -- notably the undefeated four-division world champion Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez -- few will attempt to make that case in Las Vegas this weekend.
For Ward (30-0, 15 knockouts), the logic is simple. Both he and Russia's Kovalev (30-0, 26 knockouts) have beaten the best that their preferred divisions have to offer. The pound-for-pound tag is justified.
"It's hard to say definitively, but I think it would be really, really hard to argue against (the winner being pound-for-pound king)," Ward said.
"I'm saying this based on both of our resumes and based on the fact that we are both willing to step up and face each other at this stage of our career.
"We're both 30-0 and we both have a lot to gain and a lot to lose. I think that the winner of this fight should be pound-for-pound number one," the 32-year-old added.
Kovalev, 33, who has bludgeoned his way to the top of his division on the back of brutal punching power in both fists, meanwhile says he is preparing for "war."
"This fight is a great opportunity for both of us to show the boxing world who is the best pound-for-pound," Kovalev said. "It's going to be a war between us."
After an 18-month layoff, Ward fights for the third time in 17 months, his most recent triumph a unanimous decision over Colombia's Alexander Brand three months ago before a hometown crowd in Oakland, California.
Ward is adamant that the bout will be more than just a clash of styles -- his elusiveness versus the raw power of Kovalev.
"If it was just about me being a neutralizer some of these big punchers would walk right through me. There's more to me than that," Ward said. "He's not a brawler. He thinks in there. We're ready for whatever he brings. That's the key. It's about making constant adjustments.
"There's a lot at stake. It's going to come down to who wants it more."
Kovalev, 33, has long sought a meeting with Haitian-born Canadian southpaw Adonis Stevenson, the World Boxing Council champion who is 28-1 with 23 knockouts.
However, when no deal could be struck, Kovalev surrendered his mandatory challenger rights to face a fighter he said he thinks will be his toughest foe yet.
"He has never lost before. But it's my job. Let me do it and break his zero," Kovalev said. "I don't have any different strategy. My strategy is just to win.
"He's in the way of my goals and my dreams. I can't give this to him. I want to destroy him."