Friday, 16 June 2017 00:00

Ward vs Kovalev 2: Exactly why Andre won the first fight

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In November, Andre Ward lifted the titles of consensus light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev via a tight but unanimous decision.

All three judges scored it 114-113.

And Ward's win, of course, wasn't without controversy.

Many believed Sergey deserved the nod and Kovalev himself insisted he was victimized by unfair judging, even demanding neutral (non-American or Russian) judges for their June 17 rematch.

But Ward vs Kovalev 2 wasn't a robbery a la Evander Holyfield vs Nikolay Valuev, Dereck Chisora vs Robert Helenius and Pernell Whitaker vs Julio Cesar Chavez.

However, a strong case could be made for Kovalev winning, especially given he was the defending champion.

So what happened in Ward vs Kovalev, and why do we sometimes see fights where the judging contradicts presumed public sentiment?

Answer: The system of scoring is flawed.

Like Juan Manuel Marquez in his third fight with Manny Pacquiao, Kovalev appeared to win his rounds more emphatically than Ward while the latter, like Pacquiao, was given the nod in most of the hard-to-call stanzas.

So what's the solution?

For starters, judges should be more amenable to scoring rounds even. If you have a difficult time scoring a round, don't give it to the guy who flurried at the end, simply call it 10-10. At this moment, however, judges are discouraged from awarding even rounds.

Secondly, the scoring system needs to be changed to appropriately credit fighters who decisively win the round but fall short of scoring a knockdown or unleashing a one-sided beating.

9.5?: Perhaps those rounds should be scored 10-9 while close rounds should be tagged 10 to 9.5.

When a fighter narrowly wins a round, he should be given less credit than an opponent who won another round emphatically.

Kovalev, minus the 10-8 score he boasted in Round 2, didn't get full credit for the other rounds clearly won by him. He decisively won Round 1 but was given the same score Ward was for narrowly winning a round that could have conceivably been scored even.

Ward vs Kovalev 2 News
Date: June 17
Broadcast: HBO PPV
Location: Las Vegas
Venue: Mandalay Bay

Division: Light heavyweight
Titles: WBA, WBO and IBF
Champion: Ward 

For Ward vs Kovalev, the judges favored Andre's style in those difficult, hard-to-call rounds that could have been scored even (or 10 to 9.5 in a hypothetical scenario).

The fix wasn't in for either fight. The judges simply abided by today's antiquated rules of scoring.

Perhaps there are some poor judges but the biggest problem is boxing's scoring system which, in a few ways, hampers competent officials from making the most accurate call.

Lee Cleveland

Lee is Managing Editor of, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.