Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev Robbed of Belts and Unbeaten Record!
By: Ken Hissner
As a boxing writer I have covered former WBA, WBO and IBF light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, 31-1-1 (26), for years. He is a perfect example along with Gennady “GGG” Golovkin of how a boxer should act in and out of the ring.
On November 19th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV, this writer was stunned at the decision of judges Burt A. Clements, Glenn Trowbridge and John McKaie scoring it the same at 114-113 for Andre Ward, 30-0 (15) depriving Kovalev of the victory. I can’t remember a time in a major 12 round fight all three judges had the same score. Even back in 2014 when Kovalev shut out Bernard Hopkins only two of the three judges agreed with their scores.
When this writer saw who the referee was I knew Ward had an edge already. Of all the referee’s that the NV commission had to pick from such as Kenny Bayless, Tony Weeks, Jay Nady and Vic Drackulich they picked Robert Byrd. He is without a doubt the slowest moving of the group. If you go to www.you-tube.com as I did you will see that Ward initiated 46 clinches in the 12 rounds while Kovalev initiated less than 10.
Though Bird made several warnings he never took away a point from Ward which was unbelievable from my point of view. Allowing Ward to jab and grab made it one frustrating fight and hard to watch. For those who said it was a good or great fight should either go to their local optometrist or were rooting for Ward all the way. I judged it 116-111 for Kovalev. To only award Kovalev 5 rounds when he took 5 of the first 6 rounds would make one wonder what the judges were thinking. HBO judge Harold Lederman an IBHOF inductee had Kovalev ahead.
Sadly the organizations of the WBC and WBA have Kovalev ranked No. 2. The WBO No. 1 and for some reason the IBF do not have him ranked. Go figure! Kovalev’s manager Egis Klimas has commented that Kovalev will need a knockout in a rematch. Seems Ward has already asked for WBC champion Adonis Stevenson in his next fight.
Kovalev came to the USA from Russia to start his career in 2009. He didn’t go to New York City like many of the Europeans do but to St. Petersburg, FL. Down there he hooked up with trainer John David Jackson. He turned professional and won his first eleven fights with ten by stoppage. The veteran Darnell Boone known as the “upset kid” was not only the one to go the distance but lost a split decision in Kovalev’s first eight rounder. It would be almost two years before they had a rematch with Kovalev stopping Boone in seven rounds. Two fights prior to their first meeting Boone stopped current WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson.
In Kovalev’s eleventh fight he stopped Devin Vargas, 22-5. Then in his twelfth fight he returned to Russia scoring a decision win. Then back to the states. In July of 2011 he would win his first minor title the vacant WBA-NABA USA knocking out Kenyan Douglas OtienoOkola, 23-6, in his first ten rounder. In August of 2011 his opponent Grover Young suffered a bad cut from an accidental clash of heads making it a TD in the second round.
Kovalev would return to Russia in his next fight putting Roman Simakov, 19-1-1, into retirement winning by knockout and claiming the WBC Asian Council title. Next was the return match win over Boone. Then he stopped Lionel Thompson, 12-1, and followed up stopping former WBA champion GarbielCampillo, of Spain, 23-4-1. In June of 2013 he stopped Cornelius White, 21-1, earning him a WBO world title shot two months later in the UK stopping Nathan Cleverly, 26-0, in 4 rounds despite getting cut over the right eye in the second round.
Just three months later Kovalev would make his first of three defenses stopping opponents IsmaylSillakh, 21-1, of the UKR, in Canada, Cedric Agnew, 26-0, and Australian Blake Caparello, 19-0-1. This set the stage to meet Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, 55-6-2, who held the WBA and IBF titles, in Atlantic City, NJ. Kovalev would shutout Hopkins winning all 12 rounds on two score cards plus mine. He would make a return trip to Canada and stop former WBC champion Jean Pascal, 29-2-1, of Haiti, living in Canada, in 8 rounds.
In Kovalev’s next fight he stopped Frenchman NadjibMohammedi, 37-3. Then a return bout in January of 2016 with Pascal in Canada, stopping him in seven rounds. In July he returned to Russia and won a decision over Isaac Chilemba, 24-3-2, of South Africa. This set the stage for the Andre Ward bout in November. Ward had returned from an eighteen month layoff to move up to light heavyweight in winning three bouts.
Kovalev was at the stage of his career to make the boxing world wake up to his greatness. In boxing if it comes down to a decision and the “3 blind mice” determine the outcome anything can happen and it did. This deprivedKovalev of much as his promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events is doing her best to sign a rematch with Ward who may be reluctant before having a fight in between. The WBA, WBO and IBF should have demanded an immediate rematch but have been silent!