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Ward wins close fight, takes Kovalev’s belts


The way top-notch boxing commentator Max Kellerman explained the difference between a controversial decision and a bad decision with regards to Andre Ward being called the winner over Sergey Kovalev was about as perfect an explanation as one could make.

It wasn’t a bad decision that Ward got called the unanimous victory with all three judges scoring it 114-113, but it was a controversial one. Basically, it is conceivable that one could have scored the fight that way, but it involved that every single toss up round went to Ward. It was the only score that made any sense for him to be named the winner with and new WBA, IBF and WBO light heavyweight champion.

Kovalev on the other hand, who does have reason to believe that three American judges would have given an American Olympic hero every benefit of the doubt over a Russian visiting Las Vegas for a major title fight, could have been scores as great as 116-111 with a knockdown point being deducted from Ward’s score. It was very improbably that Ward overcame so many different scores Kovalev could have had, which is likely why he had such a look of surprise on his face when they said he was the winner, but it wasn’t impossible to say he won.

Kovalev was able to put Ward in a hole early with some one-sided fighting in the first three rounds. It was very clear Kovalev was the bigger, stronger and more powerful man in the ring. His jab, which is regarded as being harder than most straight punches, troubled Ward. In the second round Ward tried to counter the jab but Kovalev saw the move and beat him to the punch; sending Ward to the canvas for the first time in his career.

Kovalev’s power advantage was undeniable. Ward desperately tried to get inside Kovalev’s power, but ‘the krusher’s’ length made that a hard test to accomplish. He would sting Ward with jabs every time he tried to come inside early. But Ward continued to charge in and often clinched and wrestled around with Kovalev.

Typically that is a tactic Ward uses to frustrate his opponents, which helped him create some opening in the later rounds. It didn’t work much against Kovalev, who throughout the fight was the aggressor and the one following a retreating Ward who was circling around the ring with his back up against the ropes.

But it did slow the tempo of the fight down. Ward was still being stung with hard shots, but starting in the fourth round Ward was getting in his offensive rhythm. In the fifth round and sixth rounds, he was able to deliver some power shots.

As Ward doesn’t have truly great knockout power anywhere near the level Kovalev has, the effectiveness of those shots he was landing were debatable, but the middle rounds were where Ward close the distance and probably even took the lead on the scorecard.

In the 10th round, Ward tried to show off with a wind-up punch, but Kovalev met him with a straight jab while Ward was swinging his right arm behind him. At that point Kovalev started to re-establish the jab that he seemed to lose in the middle of the fight and gave Kovalev momentum back heading down the stretch of the fight.

Following up in the 11th round, Kovalev remained the aggressor in the fight and never wavered from his gameplan. Ward, though, was able to land some nice combinations, including his signature shot shot followed by a left hook to the temple. The accumulating damage started to show a little bit on Kovalev’s face too.

Heading into the final round, it was unclear who was in the lead. Kovalev seemed to be ahead, but with so many rounds that could have gone either way, both fighters looked like they were going for the knockout. Ward just didn’t have the power to end a fighter with as great a chin as Kovalev has. Kovalev struggled to connect fully against a quicker and more defensive Ward.

Either way, a rematch is necessary. It was a great fight that lived up to the build and with some controversy where we’re still not truly sure which boxer is better, getting the two right back into the ring against each other is the smart move.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.
One Response to “Ward wins close fight, takes Kovalev’s belts”
  1. bobbyroy says:

    Congratulations to Andre Ward a good guy an a boxer who represented America in the Olympics glad to see you win those belts.