Ward vs Kovalev 2: Will scoring be an issue in the rematch?Written by Joseph Herron
The time-honored sport of boxing has always been riddled with controversy, both in and out of the ring.
Since losing his WBO,WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight championships to Andre Ward in November of 2016, Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev hasn't been shy in sharing his thoughts on what went wrong during the first pound for pound match-up.
After dropping a controversial, razor thin but unanimous decision to the former Super Middleweight champ, the heavy-handed Russian-native was full of "reasons" for the losing verdict. Whether his performance was indeed affected by over-training, affected by favoritism from domestic judges, was thrown off by excessive holding on the inside, or in the case that he went into the fight with too much emotion or anger for his opponent, Sergey Kovalev has been very clear in sharing his personal opinions as to why he seemingly came up short on fight night.
The newly crowned champion offered his thoughts on Sergey's vocalized discontent.
"It's amazing to me, the stuff this guy comes up with," Andre Ward said at a recent Los Angeles press conference announcing the rematch. "You can't make this stuff up. I don't know if they're meeting about this stuff in the boardroom before they come out here or this is what he really thinks...it's crazy!"
"He lost me beyond saying he felt he won the fight. All of the other stuff? I don't think his team realizes how they look when they say things like this."
The latest complaint issued by Team Kovalev came from his loyal promoter, Ms. Kathy Duva of Main Events, claiming that neutral judges, not hailing from either America or Russia, would be more appropriate in the fan clamored rematch slated for June 17 in Las Vegas.
According to Duva, the California born fighter denied a request for international judges at ringside.
"The rule is when fighting in Nevada that you go with what the commission says," stated the CEO of the New Jersey based promotional group to FightHub TV. "I asked Team Ward if we could go together and ask the NSAC if we could appoint some non-American judges for the rematch. Ward said, 'absolutely not'."
"I'm told there was a comment made that everyone hates Americans all over the rest of the world, so they want American judges for the second fight. So I guess he (Ward) figures that gives him and edge. We're going to trust that the commission doesn't want any controversy this time, and it's up to them to decide how they want to handle it."
The three judges who scored Ward vs Kovalev I were Bert Clements of Reno, Nevada, Glenn Trowbridge of Las Vegas, Nevada, and John McKaie of Queens, New York. The triumvirate scored the bout 114-113, or 7 rounds to 5, all in favor of the former American Olympic gold medal winner.
The undefeated 33 year old fighter expounded on reasons why he believes the judging "controversy" was and is a non-issue.
"There's a lot of perception out there, but this is the realty. Kathy signed off on all three judges who scored the first fight," stated Andre Ward. "She and her fighter were on the A-side...he was the defending champion."
"We're on the A-side now, but we didn't have any say-so when making the first fight. But when things don't go their way, they want to find a scapegoat somewhere. The fact is they approved those judges before the first fight, and they were fine with it."
"So why is it an issue now?"
Although many observers, including former pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr, believe Kovalev did enough to retain his titles in the first fight against Ward, most agree that the twelve round affair included many close and competitive stanzas, which were difficult to score and could be characterized to be "inconclusive".
The defending title holder insists he has nothing to prove to those who genuinely believe he was given a "gift" decision victory over Kovalev last year...including "Money" Mayweather.
"I'm good," states the unbeaten champion. "I know there are fans and media members who don't like or don't agree with the decision of the first fight. But that's not why I agreed to face Kovalev again."
"I have nothing more to prove to anyone, and it's not about the money. I'm fine. I agreed to fight him again for my fans and my supporters who have been rolling with me from the beginning. This is for them."
The highly anticipated rematch, Ward vs Kovalev 2, will take place at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on June 17, and will be aired on HBO PPV.