Ward vs Kovalev 2: Belt line shots are not low blowsWritten by Lee Cleveland
"You cannot hit below the belt, hold, trip, kick, headbutt, wrestle, bite, spit on, or push your opponent."
The key word above is "below."
Sergey Kovalev take heed.
Last night at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas - Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) stopped Sergey Kovalev (30-2, 26 KOs) in Round 8 to retain the IBF, WBO, WBA light heavyweight titles.
A rematch of their controversial first fight won by Ward, controversy might reign again... And while it was warranted before, was it this time?
In the last two rounds, Ward unleashed monstrous body shots that forced Kovalev double over several times before the referee halted the action with Kovalev, having already been worked over, bent over against the ropes and not defending himself.
(And by the way, ducking below your opponent's belt line, which Kovalev did often is, in fact, against the rules.)
But make no mistake about it... It was a crashing right hand to the head that badly hurt Kovalev and started the assault the that finished the fight.
...But back to the body shot that seemed to have caused controversy.
The “belt” is defined as an imaginary line drawn across the body from the top of the hip bones.
Kovalev kept complaining to the referee he was being hit low and the referee, at least once, replied, "On the belt, on the belt."
Instant replay clearly showed that.
“He was reacting to my body shots, and I knew I had him and I knew he was hurt,” Ward said. “Am I No. 1 [in pound-for-pound rankings] now?”
Moreover, a low blow that pulverizes a fighter is a punch to the groin a la Golota vs Bowe and Holmes vs Cooney. Ward's shots were clearly not in the groin.
“Low blow, again, low blow. I don’t know why they stopped the fight," Sergey stated afterwards.
"I want to get another fight. I’ll kick his [expletive]. I want to get a rematch again.”
If the shots weren't low, why was Sergey doubled over?
Anyone who has boxed before will insist body shots hurt more than head shots. They make it harder to breath and take away your legs.
It's not uncommon to see a fighter get KO'd by a body shot. In fact, Sergey has stopped opponents with body shots.
Remember Amir Khan vs Zab Judah in 2011?
In the 5th round, Zab was taken out with a right uppercut to the body, in which at first commentators believed it was a low blow, since Judah was showing signs of agonizing pain, but when it was seen from a different camera angle, it was right on the belt, leading to a Knockout for Amir Khan
Perhaps one could say the stoppage was premature but Kovalev was doubled over and not defending himself Fights have been stopped for lesser reasons.
Maybe the only legitimate controversy is the scorecards, again.
Ward was ahead by a point on two of three judges’ scorecards when the fight ended, while Sergey had a three-point lead on one card.
Many had Kovalev up by 2 or 3 points. I had Kovalev up by one. Of course, had he survived Round 8 he would have been down by one or two on my card heading into the ninth because Ward was cruising to a 10-8 score in that round.
“It felt like I was up [on the scorecards], but a championship fight starts after the sixth round,” Ward said. “I knew I had him hurt. I knew he was hurt. He was trying to cover up his body. He was dazed so I just had to try to find the right shot. He just didn’t react, and the referee stopped it.”
Lee is Managing Editor of FightSaga.com, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.
A gym rat in the 1990s, Lee was trained by 1976 Olympic Silver Medalist Charles Mooney and several retired seasoned pros. He was also a sparring partner for former WBA Super Middleweight Champion Steve Little who upset Michael Nunn for the WBA Super Middleweight Title in '94.
Lee created FightSaga.com to honor and preserve boxing's rich heritage, chronicle the achievements of top fighters, celebrate the legacy of big fights and provide a fun, educational experience for fight fans.