Thursday, 22 June 2017 19:14

Sergey Kovalev: "Stop's your own fault" (Radio)

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On Saturday night, June 17, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in "Sin City" Nevada, Andre "S.O.G." Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) made his first title defense as the incumbent WBO/IBF/WBA Light Heavyweight Champion against former division kingpin Sergey "The Krusher" Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs). Not only did the Bay area native successfully defend his coveted 175-pound distinction against the feared puncher, but Ward accomplished the seemingly unthinkable task of stopping his opponent with a resounding and unexpected technical knockout at the 2:29 mark of the eighth round.

But in typical boxing fashion, controversy is rearing its ugly head in lieu of recognizing an otherwise sensational feat.

Throughout the preempted eight round contest, Sergey consistently complained to referee in charge Tony Weeks, concerning an effective but now heavily debated body attack which seemed to occasionally stray below the Krusher's belt-line. During the final moments of the now fateful eighth stanza, Ward ostensibly hurt Kovalev with one final barrage to the "body" that caused the former champion to double over in pain. Rather than warning the reigning title holder and giving Kovalev the allotted recovery time for the questionable shot to the "rubles", the third man in the ring called a halt to the bout and rewarded Andre with a decisive TKO victory.

Feeling understandably slighted, the 34-year-old Russian native shared his thoughts on the hotly debated outcome while perusing through Facebook.

"Many thanks to those who cheered for me," Sergey Kovalev posted on the popular social media outlet. "I'm sorry that did not meet your expectations. It's boxing! I admit, that Ward was better in rematch. I give him credit he did his homework with 'A' and showed his professionalism and discipline. But he didn't put an end to our clash. I fought with two people in the ring...I will be back!"

Did Sergey just insinuate that veteran referee Tony Weeks had a hidden agenda while performing his officious duties on Saturday night?

A very harsh claim against a respected and longstanding member of the boxing community.

During last night's episode of FightSaga Radio, three-decade fight trainer James Gogue did more than merely suggest who he felt was responsible for the controversial loss.

"When I first started training fighters, former WBA world champion Loreto Garza once told me that everything is legal in the ring until the referee says to stop," stated the experienced boxing coach on FightSaga Radio. "That's the mentality you have to take into that damn ring. I always remembered that."

"So do you know what I would have told Sergey if I were in his corner during the Ward fight?"

"I would have told him to stop looking to the referee for help, quit crying like a b*tch and retaliate."

"Start hitting him on the hip, the kidneys and anywhere else that's going to level the playing field! If he wants to get dirty, you get dirty with him! You're in a fight. This isn't square-dancing, it's a fight."

To Kovalev's credit or discredit, the hard-punching title challenger ostensibly chose to compete within the rules as explained to both fighters before the contest by referee Tony Weeks. According to Coach Gogue, that was a poor decision in such a crucial bout.

"When a fighter tries to bully you like Ward did, you have to retaliate. You have to get that bully's respect and punch him in the mouth. You get mean and nasty with him. You don't look at the ref like a little b!tch and cry for help."

"Prizefighting is a nasty business. It's not the hug and kiss you business. It can get nasty in the ring and can ultimately be life or death for any fighter."

The always insightful fight trainer makes the observation that questionable tactics by the current Light Heavyweight should have been expected by Team Kovalev as part of their mental and physical preparation.

"Look, Ward will often skate on the border between fair and foul," claims trainer James Gogue.

"This is nothing new. He's been accused many times of hitting or headbutting while in the clinch on the inside. Like Loreto Garza told me several decades ago; there's nothing wrong with it if you can get away with it. Any fighter is going to keep on doing it until the referee tells him to stop."

"Weeks never warned Andre, so he kept on doing it. Kovalev never adapted and got stopped. If he's not happy with the outcome, it's his own damn fault."

For those who missed the live show, the audio player is embedded at the bottom of the page.