19 Jun Ward Chops Down Kovalev, High And Low
Every story has three sides–yours, mine, and the truth somewhere in between. On June 17th, Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev were the storytellers, and their versions were as polar-opposite as a Trump and Clinton supporter. Light Heavyweight Champion Ward would tell you that he dominated his opponent, beat him up, made him want to quit, and scored a legitimate 8th-round Technical Knockout at Mandalay Bay, in Las Vegas. He would say that Kovalev was frustrated by being outclassed and resorted to illegal tactics before succumbing to not only the better boxer, but the better man.
“If we’re gonna talk low-blows, we’re gonna talk rabbit punches. We can’t talk one without the other. And I honestly feel like his was intentional, because he doesn’t really know how to fight inside. That’s the best he can do. I didn’t intentionally try to hit that man low. Things happen.” -Andre Ward
Former champion Sergey Kovalev would say that he wasn’t even in the ring with a boxer, but a wrestler, and go on to say that his opponent was “lucky,” and that the referee allowed him to get away with low blows.
“He’s really lucky. Son Of Judges. He punched me with low blows. I believe and trusted Tony Weeks but he did wrong.” -Sergey Kovalev
Ward says get over it. Kovalev says box fairly. Ward says look who’s talking, see rabbit punches. Kovalev says I come to fight, not talk. Ward says stop whining then, Kovalev says stop cheating. Ward says his opponent was easy to figure out. Kovalev says, so why did you need to hold me? Ward says he’s moving on to bigger and better things. Kovalev says you still haven’t proven you are a real champion at 175.
Here’s the real story:
Sergey Kovalev started off pretty well Saturday. He threw punches in bunches over the first three rounds, and took the early lead. It wasn’t a fluid three rounds; it was marred by excessive holding and clinching, primarily from Ward, but “Krusher” was clearly ahead. Referee Tony Weeks warned both fighters for the foul play, but it was hard to tell if either combatant took heed of Weeks’ commands.
In the 4th round, Ward controlled the pace and distance. He began making Kovalev miss more often, and punished him with crisp counters, left hooks, and lead rights. In round 5, Andre Ward’s ring generalship continued to control Sergey Kovalev. Fans chanted “S-O-G,” and urged Ward on. Round 6 was sloppy. Both fighters would miss most of their shots, and both men were visibly exhausted, especially Kovalev. Still, he was the one coming forward and trying to be the aggressor. Through 7 rounds, Kovalev landed several power punches and jabs, but Ward landed the more significant ones. On the illegal side, Ward connected with low blows, while Kovalev threw rabbit punches. A case could be made that these were not intentional illegal punches, due to both fighters holding, clinching, and ducking their heads. So without knowing fighters’ intentions, one could only speculate whether the referee should have deducted points. It was clear, however, that Kovalev was hit low and bothered by the punches. It was also clear that Ward was the better boxer, and on his way to stopping Kovalev.
In the 8th round, Tony Weeks, did in fact stop the fight; but the stoppage was immediately after Kovalev crumpled into the ropes from a low blow. Kovalev didn’t appear to argue against the stoppage, thus demonstrating the notion that he was ready for the fight to end. Also, his head trainer, John David Jackson, did not seem to dispute referee Weeks’ call to stop the fight.
Therefore, the boxing world should accept that Andre Ward is the legitimate champion of the 175-pound division. What also should be accepted is that Sergey Kovalev is Ward’s toughest opponent to date, and the man Ward never wants to see again in the ring. Both men deserved large paydays, respect from their peers, appreciation from the boxing world, and adoration from the fans. Kudos to Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev for jobs well done.