Some days it is really hard to love boxing. Today is one of those days. Coming into the light heavyweight showdown between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev, we all knew it was going to be close. And with the judge’s all agreeing on the decision of 114-133, if you hadn’t watched the fight, you probably assumed it was a barnstormer up until the last round.
Ehhh, not really.
Andre Ward may have won the fight, but he never even came close to winning the war. From the opening bell, Kovalev made him eat jab after jab, putting him down in the 2nd round to boot. For all of his ballyhooed defensive capabilities and ring generalship, Ward was out of his depth over the first half of the fight. At that point, I had it 5 rounds to 1 in favor of Kovalev (plus a knockdown).
The second half of the fight, here is where Ward’s fans will tell you he turned it on and made it a fight. Sure, he showed a lot of grit and fought back, but he also tried to hold and turn this into a real crapfest. Kovalev did gas himself out at one point, but I thought he came away with rounds 10 and 12. Again, his busy, educated jab kept Ward from doing anything more than the occasional body shot.
Not that my 115-112 scorecard in favor of Kovalev means much, but it seemed to be the consensus after the fight. Ward got a gift decision and the true man at the 175lb weight class got a bit of a robbery. It happens.
But there is more to this than that. My inside boxing source (the same guy who helped me make Split Decision as authentic as possible) spoke to me after the fight. Here are his observations:
- Ward is the only boxer alive who gets credit for something he did 6 long years ago. The rest of us would never get the same treatment. Plus the guy only fights on every 5th solar eclipse. How does he still have all of this sway?
- This is going to go down for Ward as the Bradley-Pacman I decision went down for Tim Bradley. Ward never had a lot of fans to begin with and now I fully expect a lot of people to pile on him. This win will feel more like a loss.
- It’s time the boxing commissions got their acts together and held judges accountable. Too many bad/bizarre decisions really hurts the sport.
So yeah – great job to all involved. And with the talk of the rematch? Kovalev has to take it, doesn’t he? He shouldn’t have to as he outworked and outpunished Ward the first time around, but alas, this is boxing.
Have a different opinion? Feel free to comment below.