Kovalev-Ward: Aftermath Of A Controversial Decision
By: Sean Crose
Okay, so Andre Ward defeated Sergey Kovalev in one hell of a boxing match on Saturday and now at least half of boxing fandom is up in arms. Truth be told, this is no surprise. For the fight, which was between two of the best (and undefeated) fighters on earth for light heavyweight supremacy (let’s face it, Adonis Stevenson, is king in name only) was close. Very close. Incredibly close. Didn’t see it? Check out a replay as soon as possible. Many big fights aren’t worth the hype. This big fight, which didn’t generate the buzz it should have, proved to be far greater than the modest hype surrounding it.
Yup, it was indeed an intriguing affair at the T-Mobile Arena in Vegas. At first, it looked like the power hitting champion Kovalev was going to make easy work of his man. He buckled Ward with a mere jab early on, after all, then put Ward on the mat shortly thereafter. Yet Ward, the former emperor of the super middleweight division, proved to be a serious challenger. Entrenching himself in battle, the California native took it the Russian with hard body shots and some seriously clean punching. There was also a good amount of holding to be found. A good amount indeed.
Kovalev, however, was not going to let the fight of his life slip away. And so the two men threw down in extremely impressive fashion for round after round. Sometimes it appeared as if the combatants were snapping each other’s heads with clean shots simultaneously. It was just that kind of affair. So close was the battle that this writer was surprised to tally up his own – highly unofficial – card after the final bell to learn he had given the nod to Ward (I suspected, with the knockdown and all, that I had scored it at least even).
Suffice to say, my armchair scoring, which was identical to the three judge’s 114-113 scores, is open to criticism. And, guess what? I understand why. Some fights are easy to call. Others, not so much. Make no mistake about it, there was at least a round or two that I felt could have gone either way. Perhaps on a second viewing I might score the fight for sublime Russian, Kovalev. Then again, perhaps not. One thing is certain, I’m looking forward to a second go-round between these two.
On a personal note, this bout was surprising to me. It may well have been the first time in close to forty years of watching fights that I agreed with the judges on a controversial call. I can’t explain why, but I can’t remember that sort of thing ever happening before. Suffice to say, I’m usually on the side of fans screaming for justice in this type of situation. Not this time, however. At least not yet (there’s that second viewing to look forward to after all). Both men were brilliant on Saturday, but I can’t condemn the people who gave Ward the nod when all was said and done. Scores of others, however…