Andre Ward crushes Sergey Kovalev and shows he is King
By: Kirk Jackson
Silencing the opinions of fans and critics amongst the media, Andre “SOG” Ward 32-0 (16 KO’s) defended his WBA, IBF and WBO light heavyweight titles defeating Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev 31-2-1 (26 KO’s) via eighth-round technical knockout in their highly anticipated rematch.
Ward picked up where he left off in their first encounter; using lateral movement and angles to navigate inside the Kovalev’s dungeon of danger. Ward avoided the full brunt force of the hazardous, powerful 1-2 combinations (straight right hands, left jabs) of Kovalev while unleashing his own devastating attack.
As menacing as Kovalev’s punches can be, Ward proved again his will and fistic sophistication is even more demoralizing.
“I think it was plain to see that I broke him mentally and physically,” said Ward in a post-fight interview.
“I’m not a person that demands respect or none of that. You don’t have to respect me and I don’t demand anything, but at a certain point and time, you got to give a person their just do. I’m 13 years in and I’ve been doing it against the best.”
In crushing Kovalev from a physical standpoint, the emphasis of Ward’s attack was towards the body. A successful strategy utilized in their initial encounter.
After taking command during the first half of the first fight, Kovalev slowly succumbed to the constant pressure applied from Ward; squandering his lead and losing his titles in the process.
As the bigger man and the fighter thought of as the more threatening figure based off his destructive punching power, Kovalev looked worn for wear heading into the later rounds. The “Krusher” looked deflated after a hard fought highly competitive battle.
The same strategy proved successful the second time around.
“When I saw him react to the body shots that were borderline, I knew I had him,” Ward said. “Go back down there. Why get away from it?”
“Then I hurt him with a head shot and I just had to get the right shots in there to get it over with. That one’s probably borderline – he was hurt, I went right back there again, he wasn’t reacting, right back there again and the referee stopped it.”
And as with the first fight, the second fight also appears boiled in controversy. In which HBO, the network responsible for broadcasting the event contributed to regarding confusion the first time around.
Whether it’s the dubious scorecards from longtime HBO judge Harold Lederman, or the questionable calls of analysis from play-by-play commentator Jim Lampley, more times than not, the casual fan is misinformed regarding the content and story of the fight.
The controversy regarding the results of the rematch stems from the interpretation of what is perceived as effective body punches or illegal low blows.
Critics, most notably Kovalev’s promoter, Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, points to low blows from Ward as a reason Kovalev lost yet another fight to Bay Area boxer. HBO analyst and boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. suggests otherwise.
“We saw earlier that he [Kovalev] was complaining from a borderline body shot and anytime someone fakes that much from a borderline body shot it makes it hard for you not to go back down there if you a seasoned veteran,” said Jones.
“It was borderline but when your cup is above your navel, the ref usually tells you I’m not gonna call these shots low right below the belt, because your belt is above your navel.”
Bob Bennett is the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The bout between Ward and Kovalev took place in Las Vegas, NV.
Bennett talked to the referee in charge of the fight, Tony Weeks. Bennett also expressed his confidence and belief that Weeks made the correct decision regarding the bout between Kovalev and Ward.
“I felt we had it right the first time. And I thought Tony did a great job this time,” Bennett said to USA Today.
“I’ve reviewed the fight this morning. I looked at those punches that were allegedly low, and even spoke to (HBO’s) Tom Hauser, who sent me a video, saying one of those punches was low but it was very hard to determine because Kovalev’s arm was by his waist, and the punch looks like it comes up underneath and hits on the belt line.”
Bennett continued, “It’s rather interesting at the end that when Ward hits him in the stomach at the end, he sat on the ropes. And the punch looked good. Weeks was in good position to see where those blows landed and they’re right on the belt line.”
“Are they close? Sure. But do they look good? Yeah. Did he have one or two low blows where Tony told him to keep them up? You could argue that he did. But at the same time you could argue that Kovalev put Ward in numerous headlocks and Tony had to reprimand both of them. I think the stoppage was good.”
Bennett’s assessment, along with Weeks’ assessment of where Ward’s punches landed regarding Kovalev’s belt line, reiterates the observation and analysis from HBO analyst Roy Jones Jr.
What we have from Duva and Team Kovalev is a litany of excuses. Ironic as the theme for this particular event is “No Excuses.”
“Excuses” correlates to the main reason Kovalev suffered defeat against Ward not only once, but twice.
This isn’t just the physical element at play. Yes this is a sport, this is boxing, the highest form of competition, one on one battle, where physicality matters. But there was a psychological war waging as well.
Kovalev’s foundation and mental makeup is constructed as a carefully crafted portrait of a cerebral, cold blooded killer. What was left out is the mountain of lies and excuses shadowing this illustration.
There are two types of people.
The first type makes excuses for their shortcomings and lacks accountability.
The second type recognizes and accepts their flaws and weaknesses, while making necessary adjustments to correct mistakes and progress forward.
Excuses can be regarded as a sign of mental weakness.
As great of a fighter Kovalev is, rising to the top of the sport bullying fighters and relying on intimidation; mainly predicated from his punching prowess, he lacks accountability regarding his deficiencies.
He mocked fighters, singled out and disrespected groups of people varying in sex and background en route to his rise of success.
Whether it’s suggesting to the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields, that women should be at home making family life comfortable, or addressing Haitian-Canadian, light heavyweight rival Adonis Stevenson as a monkey, referring to Ismail Sillakh and African-American fighters as “negros,” along with other references aimed at “dark-skinned people,” is uncalled for.
Referring to Grover Young as a “thoroughbred nigga” further implies ignorance and immaturity.
Utilizing memes and videos, attributing idiotic stereotypes based on someone’s skin complexion and background is another red flag.
Former light heavyweight champion Beibut Shumenov of Kazakhstan, expressed his belief in Kovalev’s narrow-minded bigotry in an interview with Ring Magazine.
“I was shocked when I heard about his racist comments that he said in reference about African-Americans. There was no misinterpretation or lost in Russian-to-English translation of what he said,” Shumenov said.
“He will have to live with the derogatory words that he said in print and video. A lot of my team are African-Americans, and they are more than members of my team, they are family to me. They have my back and I have theirs, and I have zero respect for racist views of any kind.”
Do you notice a pattern here?
Whether its disrespectful remarks hurled towards peers, distasteful comments and tweets, or thoughtless posts across various social media outlets, character is often revealed through particular actions.
The “Krusher’s” character is on full display.
But what happens to the bully once he’s confronted? The bully usually folds. The case with Kovalev and Ward is a classic example. Ward stood up to Kovalev.
Regarding their fights, it’s why entering the jaws of death (fighting in range of Kovalev’s punching power) was imperative for the success of Ward.
It leaves a psychological effect; telling the bully I’m still here regardless of your tactics.
The “Krusher” openly and adamantly discussed his desire to end Ward’s career. Time and time again, his tag line for the rematch and this was directed at Ward, “I’m going to end your career motherfucker!!”
Perhaps it was just for promotion for their fight, although there appears to be genuine dislike between camps.
After suffering consecutive defeats and the last by TKO to Ward, it now appears Kovalev’s career is heading down the drain.
The question is who will fight Kovalev now? He is still a great fighter and arguably still one of the best fighters pound-for-pound.
But that’s the underlying issue; he’s still a great fighter, possessing terrorizing power, but lacks leverage or incentive to garner fights.
So which upcoming challenger is going to take the risk of fighting him? The question beckoning for that challenger is the financial compensation worth the risk of potentially losing?
It’s unlikely he and Ward will mix it up for a third time. The option of WBC and Lineal light heavyweight champion Stevenson appears improbable due to failed negotiations of the past.
As far as figuring Kovalev’s next step, these duties fall under the promoter and management team correct? The same promoter responsible for paying Kovalev.
— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) June 15, 2017
Or not paying him, depending on the live gate and pay-per-view success of this past event.
Duva is clearly frustrated, displaying emotional discomfort during a trying time for her fighter who is short on options.
It’s also fitting the fighter and promoter in this instance is paired together.
Now this isn’t an obituary for Kovalev or his promoter Duva.
The 34-year-old former champion can work his way back to title contention, it’s just a matter of how he decides to do so and if he decided to remain in the light heavyweight division.
Regarding the winner of last weekend’s festivities, Ward proved yet again, he is the best fighter pound-for-pound.
Speaking to HBO after the fight Ward said, “Let me ask you the question, can I get on the pound-for-pound list now? At the top?”
Five time world champion, winner of the Super Six World Boxing Classic, unified champion at super middleweight and light heavyweight.
He overcomes every test and every adversity placed in front of him; whether it’s nagging injuries, criticism from fans and the media, or physical and psychological challenges of his opponents. No excuses, he rises to the occasion.
After conquering the super middleweight division, he moved up to a loaded light heavyweight division and just knocked out the biggest bully in boxing.
Enough said, crown him.