Ward vs Kovalev 3? Sergey should leave Andre alone, for nowWritten by Lee Cleveland
Last night, WBA, WBO, and IBF Light Heavyweight champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) scored an eighth round stoppage over Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-2, 25 KOs) in a rematch of their first bout, also won by Ward.
But not unlike their bout in November, Kovalev is crying "Foul."
“He hit with four low blows. The ref didn’t call them. I felt I could have continued. This is bullsh*t," Kovalev uttered after the fight.
However, replays clearly showed some of those shots landed on the belt line while others were inconclusive. Given the referee has the best seat in the house, 'the ruling on the field stands.'
As for the belt line blows, they were fair - and obviously quite painful.
Unless you've boxed before, you'll never understand how debilitating a thudding body shot can be. They can be just as painful as a hard low blow.
Many, including your's truly, have doubled over like Sergey after a absorbing a thunderous, legal body shot.
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.
“We want to talk about low blows tonight. There is no discussion, the right hand is what got it started. I did what I had to do that’s not my fault, I did my job," Ward said.
Kovalev's promotional company, Main Events, plans to officially protest the verdict Monday. But boxing history suggests the odds of getting a decision overturned are extremely low.
So, will we see Ward vs Kovalev 3 next?
Ward vs Kovalev I
Given many, if not most, fans thought Kovalev won the first fight, he pursued an immediate rematch and received it. And now he's lost two fights consecutively, and has been stopped inside the distance for the first time in his career.
The first fight was very close and those who believed Sergey deserved the nod present a clear case. But no one can argue Andre found solid success in the last five rounds of their November bout. And from the looks of things last night, Ward vs Kovalev 2 was a continuation of rounds 5 to 12 of their first encounter.
Last night, I awarded Kovalev 3 of the first 4 rounds but, once again, Sergey started to fade in the middle stanzas while Ward got stronger and continually found ways to score.
Moreover, and unlike the first fight, Kovalev was unable to hurt Ward last night nor was he, at any time, able to take control of the bout.
After the first fight, Sergey blamed the judges and asserted his team failed to condition him properly... Now, another excuse.
The Problem for Kovalev
Sergey entered the rematch with what appeared to be an improved gameplan. He fought at a more measured pace, threw more punches and found success with those nasty, well-timed jabs.
I hadn't seen a light heavyweight be that effective with the jab in years. Nevertheless, Kovalev was still down by a point on two of the judges' scorecards heading into Round 8.
Had he survived the round, a hurt and faded Kovalev would have entered Round 9 down by three points on two scorecards against an opponent who was getting stronger and starting to land bombs - to the body AND head.
Even the one judge who had Kovalev ahead by three points entering Round 8 would have likely had Sergey ahead by a mere point heading into Round 9, assuming Ward would have been granted a 10-8 round. And given Sergey's presumed condition and the momentum of the fight, it's unlikely he would have held on to that lead if he managed to survive the distance.
Ward vs Kovalev Pattern: In both fights, Sergey began well and then faded. Should they fight again and he doesn't KO Ward in the first four rounds, Kovalev's chances of winning are seemingly slim.
Kovalev fought well against Ward and deserves tremendous credit for doing so. As a result, if I'm Sergey's manager, I'd be very concerned about putting my guy in the ring with Ward again at this moment.
... He had two great fights and came up short both times.
Sergey, leave Ward alone and become the mighty 'Krusher' again.