The CBZ Newswire

Andre Ward wins controversial unanimous decision over Champion Sergey Kovalev

by on Nov.21, 2016, under Boxing News

 

Kovalev (right) and Ward engage at close range (photo courtesy of HBO Boxing).

Kovalev (right) and Ward engage at close range (photo courtesy of HBO Boxing).

 

Las Vegas, NV, November, 19, 2016 – We the people were led to believe we were going to watch a non-stop pressuring destroyer in Sergey Kovalev go up against a master defensive tactician in Andre Ward. We were wondering whether Kovalev was as good as his record indicated and if so whether it would be enough to overcome the ring intelligence and versatility of Ward. At the end of 12 nail biting rounds Sergey Kovalevs status was validated and even elevated as he arguably was the better boxer in the fight. Andre Ward who was wobbled badly by a jab from Kovalev in the first and dropped hard in the second round from a short right hook was never able to take over the fight or maintain control for long stretches like he has done with all past opponents.

After the first two rounds and the aforementioned knockdown, Andre appeared to be fighting scared, backing up while not throwing anything for fear of what was coming in return, Kovalevs jab repeatedly disrupted the early rounds attack from Ward as well stopping Ward in his tracks several times. By the 4th round Kovalev had discovered something that all past opponents had failed to, he was aware of when Ward was going to initiate a clinch, anticipated it and was able to gain the upper hand either through a headlock or by having one punching arm free. Round 5 went to Kovalev who was fighting very calmly using intelligent patient pressure but always moving forward and throwing. Ward landed his best punch of the fight in the 5th round a flashing piston of a right hand, Kovalev didn’t appear to be bothered by the punch.

By the 6th round Ward had begun to discover the distance needed to avoid a lot of the double jabs thrown by Kovalev and began to neutralize the right hand from landing consistently but he offered very little offense in return. Andre Wards confidence seemed to grow visibly around the 8th round as he looked to be more comfortable in the ring although Kovalev landed a dandy of a 3 punch combination punctuated by a left uppercut that Ward took well.

Round 9 was the first round that was completely owned by Ward, Wards biggest round of the night that brought the pro Ward crowd to its feet, it was probably the only round of the night where Ward had sustained success against Kovalev.

Sergey decided to fight the last 3 rounds of the contest firmly in “boxer” mode when he probably should have used a little more “krusher” mode as it was harder and harder for him to find Ward with his combinations. It also appeared that Kovalev had abandoned his early success strategy of continuing to punch after missing two or three thereby surprising Ward, as most fighters pull back to reset after minor skirmishes.

After 12 rounds of boxing at it’s highest level, all 3 judges scored the fight in favor of Andre Ward giving him all of the prodigious hardware on display which included 3 light heavyweight belts. The final scores were all the same 114-113.

Andre Ward definitely had some moments over the second half of the bout but they were inconsistent, usually one punch at a time and marred in between by clinches and wrestling. To Sergeys credit he was able to consistently push Andre back into the ropes whenever the latter initiated his many clinches and one has to wonder whether the constant wrestling sapped that extra strength that Kovalev needed to land those hard blows in the later rounds.

Andre Ward improved his undefeated record to 31-0 (15 kos) while Sergey dropped to 30-1-1 (26 kos)

Sergey might wonder what might have been looking back at tape of the second round knockdown, it was an awkward punch that dropped Ward and didn’t appear to land as cleanly as it could have.

The post fight interview was the normal cool calm of Ward who stated that it was a “close fight”.

Sergey Kovalev was VERY animated in the post fight interview and he brought up some interesting points “I’m a guest here in the USA and he’s a local, and all the judges are from the USA. I agree they support their boxer but honestly, this is sport. Don’t make it like politics.”

I asked Larry Merchant after the fight why it was allowed to have three judges all from the United States in a fight of this magnitude and he said it was a major oversight.

Both fighters agreed to a rematch, when Kovalev was asked if he would like a rematch he quickly responded “Yes. And I will kick his ass”!

In my opinion it isn’t journalistically respectable to inject my own bias or feeling of the fight, with that said it is my opinion that Kovalev won 7 rounds + a knockdown and should have clearly won 115-112.

It was also interesting that in the post fight interviews, Andre Wards face looked as if it had been put through a meat grinder while Sergey Kovalev looked like he had just gotten back from a light mid-morning jog.

It has been revealed that Main Events does have a rematch clause in the contract. It remains to be seen what the exact details of the agreement are but hopefully they can both get back into the ring ASAP with no interim fights in between. Let’s also hope that the rematch doesn’t take place in Wards hometown of Oakland California. I highly doubt Ward will travel to Russia to fight but considering the proximity of Oakland to Las Vegas an even more neutral venue seems fair for the rematch.

 

Undercard

It was a great thing that the main event was such an intriguing match as the only fight on the undercard that lived up to any sort of hype was the pro debut of former female amateur standout Claressa Shields of Flint Michigan. Claressa won a wild and entertaining 4 round unanimous decision over Franchon Crews of Baltimore Maryland whi was also making her pro debut. Franchon Crews was obviously brought in as nothing more than an opponent to be swept away by the much more celebrated fighter in Claressa Shields but did well in spots and held her own through 4.

The fight card was stacked with 9 undercard attractions including 3 that were televised.

One of the more surprising outcomes of the evening was the relative ease with which undefeated Light Heavyweight Oleksandr Gvozdyk out boxed and outpunched previous title challenger Isaac Chilemba eventually forcing a stoppage between rounds 8 and 9 due to a reported broken hand suffered by Chilemba. Prior to the stoppage Chilemba had some success but it was mostly Oleksandr who pressed the action and landed the harder blows throughout. Oleksandr improves his record to 12-0 (10 kos) while Issac Chilemba drops to 24-5-2 (10 kos)

In another dubious decision, Junior welterweight favorite Maurice Hooker was apparently out boxed in 8 out of 10 rounds by Darlys Perez but was awarded gift decision when the smoke cleared. Maurice Hooker improves his record to 22-0-2 (16 kos)

Celebrated middleweight power puncher Curtis Stevens of Brooklyn New York dominated and dropped his opponent James de la Rosa early but then went to sleep for the remainder of the bout winning an uneventful 10 round decision. It was revealed after the bout that Curtis had injured his right hand. Cutis Stevens improves his record to 28-5 (21 kos) while James de la Rosa drops to 23-4 (13 kos)

 

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