By: Hans Themistode
In no way shape or form was newly elected hall of famer Andre Ward calling Sergey Kovalev a perpetual cheater. However, with the vast majority of his life spent in the sport of boxing, Ward wasn’t exactly shocked when news broke of Kovalev testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Just a few short weeks ago, the former unified light heavyweight belt holder was busted for using synthetic testosterone. Kovalev’s actions immediately led to the cancelation of his January 30th, contest against rising contender Bektemir Melikuziev.
With boxing’s history books littered with numerous instances in which a perceived clean fighter was caught red-handed cheating, Ward simply chalks up this latest news as another black eye on the sport as a whole.
“I can’t say that I was surprised,” said Ward on The Ak & Barak Show. “That’s no indictment on Kovalev. You know, I’m not saying that I felt he was using something. But I’ve been in the game a long time, and it’s way bigger names than Kovalev that’s tested positive. So, I just know that that’s an option for guys.”
Ward, of course, knows Kovalev more than most after spending quite a bit of time with him in the ring. In September of 2016, Ward peeled himself up off the deck to win a highly debatable split decision. With most observers believing that Kovalev did more than enough to garner the victory, Ward ran things back with his man one more time. Any thoughts that Kovalev was the better fighter was immediately washed away as Ward won via eighth-round stoppage.
Since then, it’s been all downhill for Kovalev. The Russian native would suffer a seventh-round stoppage defeat at the hands of Eleider Alvarez before ultimately redeeming himself six months later. Recently, Kovalev was handed another defeat, this time at the hands of Canelo Alvarez.
At one point in time, Kovalev was considered the best light heavyweight in the division, as well as one of the best fighters in the world. Those days however, are long gone. Considering how far he’s fallen, Ward understands that Kovalev isn’t the fighter he once was which more than likely led to his decision to look for an unfair advantage.
“Do the math real quick, and you realize he’s getting older. He’s slipping and you know, guys tend to do things like that when they’re trying to hold on to a career. They know that, physically, they can’t match up with the young guys that they’re facing. So, I wasn’t surprised. It’s unfortunate.”