Sergey Kovalev Isn’t Done Just Yet
By: Hans Themistode
A shell of himself.
Over the past few months Sergey Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KOs) has heard all of those words and a few that have been much harsher. Who can really blame them? Ever since Kovalev lost to now retired future hall of famer Andre Ward by knockout he just didn’t seem like his normal self. Sure following that defeat he went on to win his next two fights by knockout, he even managed to win back one his titles that he lost to Ward in the process but still something just didn’t seem right.
Kovalev once had an aura of invincibility. He wasn’t just beating very good fighters he was flat out dominating them. An undefeated Nathan Cleverly was stopped in four rounds. Jean Pascal who had been known for having a granite chin was stopped not once but twice by Kovalev. Even the legendary Bernard Hopkins was dominated when they matched up back in 2014. When Kovalev stepped in to the ring with Ward and ultimately lost both contests it wasn’t an indictment on Kovalev, after all Andre Ward is one of the best to ever step foot in the ring but that aura that he once had took a major dent.
Kovalev lost a piece of himself in those defeats. That thought process rang true when Kovalev was knocked down three times and subsequently stopped in the seventh round last year in his match against Eleider Alvarez (24-1, 12 KOs). Before the stoppage win Kovalev was winning on the scorecards but Alvarez would not be denied as he simply bullied Kovalev on his way to victory while snatching away Kovalev’s WBO Light Heavyweight title in the process. Instead of simply accepting that defeat Kovalev wanted an immediate rematch. We all knew what was going to happen next. Kovalev was going to suffer a vicious beating at the hands of Alvarez and be relegated to the bottom of the division.
It seems as though he didn’t get the memo. Kovalev put on one of the very best performances in his career by boxing circles around Alvarez enroute to a unanimous decision victory this past Saturday night. It was a masterful performance. Kovalev has collected victories over tougher foes in his career, however this past Saturday night he not only had to deal with a dangerous, younger and more fresher opponent but he also had to battle himself as well.
During the entire build up of his fight he told everyone that would listen that what happened in his first fight with Alvarez was a “mistake” and that he has “improved.” Few believed him and even fewer picked him to win the fight. He made them all look foolish. Kovalev is known for his punching power and maybe to some degree relied on it too much in the past. This past Saturday night he proved that he is much more than a one trick pony.
The Light Heavyweight division has a ton of talent. Current undefeated champions Artur Beterbiev, Dmitry Bivol and Oleksandr Gvozdyk are at the top of the charts. Before Saturday nights win Kovalev was just an after thought. A blimp on the radar. A non threat. Now? He has forced himself back in to the top of the division. Kovalev is getting a bit long in the tooth at 35 years of age but he still has plenty left in the tank.
This Saturday night proved that he isn’t done just yet.
Boxing Insider Interview with Kathy Duva: “So Much Opportunity for Elite Fighters”
By: Henry Deleon
During the Sullivan Barrera vs. Seanie Monaghan media workout at the Mendez Boxing club in NYC, Boxing Insider had the pleasure of interviewing the CEO of Main Events Promotion, Kathy Duva.
Boxing Insider – Boxing insider here with Kathy Duva. Kathy, what is your opinion on HBO no longer televising boxing?
Kathy Duva – Oh I feel like it’s a death! It’s been 45 years! longer than I’ve been in the sport and they’re aren’t too many things that have been in the sport longer than me. I’m really going to miss it.
Boxing Insider – Do you feel that with HBO getting out of the picture, is it going to have a huge impact on boxing how is being televised?
Kathy Duva – I think it’s happening already. When boxing went to HBO, all the big fights started going there. The other networks lost interest because they couldn’t compete. But now you can see them on ESPN they’re already out there. FOX is already out there and there may be others coming up soon too, you never know.
Boxing Insider – Rumor is that the Kovalev vs. Alvarez rematch is set to be on ESPN, is this true?
Kathy Duva – That is true. It’s going to be on ESPN February 2nd, 2019
Boxing Insider – How did you feel with the results of Kovalev’s last fight against Eleider Alvarez?
Kathy Duva – Obviously I was not too happy. I think we saw this happening in the Ward fights. He got so tired, first of all Ward’s people did an amazing job of getting into his head, It was like watching a master class and I think I learned from it. Sergey was convinced that you had to try harder and work harder, because you know you’re a guy who like to party and have fun, and the worst thing for a guy who’s in his mid 30’s to do is to try and work harder because when you get older you have to work smarter not harder. Unfortunately, Sergey being Sergey just did not believe that. As he got tired, he would just continue to work harder and all he did was set himself up so that he runs out of gas. So now you have a guy who is 35 and is trying to fight and train like he’s 25. He needs to learn to train and fight like he is 35 and he’s doing that now with Buddy McGirt. He has made some changes to his training regime and hopefully it will all work out.
Boxing Insider – So what you’re saying is we are going to see a different Kovalev come this rematch?
Kathy Duva – yeah, you know Buddy is the guy who brought back Arturo Gatti and responsible for the incredible resurgence at the back of his career. Buddy knows what to do with an old fighter, and Sergey at his age has to start fighting like an old fighter which is not something negative. Some of the greatest fights you’ve ever seen involved guys who have that experience and are now challenged in the sense that they don’t have the stamina they once did when they were younger. All that plays into a guy who is a really dominant fighter suddenly getting into fights that are very competitive. So, I believe we are going to see that and in the end the fans are going to be very entertained.
Boxing Insider – So coming into this rematch, do you feel Sergey will have a different outcome?
Kathy Duva – you know Sergey won 5 out of the 7 rounds. He is by far the better fighter. The problem was that he ran out of gas after the 6th round. I remember leaning over to Sergey’s manager before the 5th round and said “I don’t know how he’s going to keep up this pace, what is he doing?”. Sergey’s going to have to learn to beat Alvarez at a slower pace and he is going to have to learn to train in a way in where he doesn’t leave it all in the gym. If he does those things he’s going to win, and if he doesn’t do those things he’s going to lose. That’s what’s going to make this fight very interesting.
Boxing Insider – What is your opinion on what Eddie Hearn and DAZN are doing for boxing?
Kathy Duva – You have people who want to invest in boxing. It’s a great time to be an elite fighter, so much opportunity for elite fighters. How can one be opposed to that, it’s terrific!
Boxing Insider – What’s your take on Saturdays main event between Sullivan Barrera and Seanie Monaghan?
Kathy Duva – This is a terrific fight! This is the greater fight that isn’t happening in places like DAZN, ESPN, or FOX. You’re looking at high level elite fighter, fighters who are world title fighters. If you look at the history of our sport, and I did the other day. I looked at all the “fight of the year” fights and what I found, dating back to 1922, is how rarely the “fight of the year” is one of the “BIG” fights. Its usually a fight like this. Look at when Gatti and Ward fought, you had two guys who people considered to be on the downside of their career and look at what they did! This is one of those fights, now I will never say a fight will be as good as Gatti and Ward, but what I am saying is that you have the same dynamic in fight with Barrera vs. Monaghan. I think if our sport is missing anything right now, its fights like these.
Boxing Insider – Is there any other up and coming fighters under your promotion that you want fans to keep an eye out for?
Kathy Duva – We actually have quite a few. Some of them you will see on Saturday, others you will see in the upcoming months. Leshawn Rodriguez (9-0 7KO) unfortunately had to pull out due to an injury but he’s a terrific fighter. Cassius Chaney (13-0 6KO) is a terrific heavy weight fighter. We just signed Denis Douglin (21-6 13KO) he’s one of those guys who has a lot going for him. He took some bad advice on a fight once and suddenly his career was going to waste, but no we are going to make a career for him. We have Madiyar Ashkeyev (10-0 6 KO), Meriim Nursultanov (8-0 5KO), Enriko Gogokhia (8-0 3KO) and Frank Galarza (20-2-2 12KO). We have a lot of really talented young fighters who are going to be the next generation of people you hear about. We to say this last big group of the Pacquiao’s, the Mayweather’s, the Klitschko’s they all lasted beyond the prime of fighters of generations past because we know more about nutrition, and training. They’ve extended their athletic careers so, it’s been a while since a new crowd has come along and took over. I believe this is going to be the beginning of that and I hope that the people I just mentioned and a few others are going to be in the vanguard of that and I look forward to being part of it.
Boxing Insider – Thank you so much Kathy. Wishing you all the best.
Kathy Duva has over 38 years of experience in the business of professional boxing and is the CEO of Main Events promotions. Kathy has helped promote many legendary careers such as Evander Holyfield, Fernando Vargas, Vinnie Pazienza, Lennox Lewis and many more.
Tune in Saturday Nov 3rd for Sullivan vs. Monaghan live globally on Facebook Watch via the Golden Boy Fight Night Page beginning at 6:00 p.m. PT/ 9:00 p.m. ET.
Kell Brook Stops Rabchenko Early
By: Ste Rowen
In Sheffield, on Saturday night Kell Brook impressively marked his return to the ring since May 2017, by making light work of Belarussian, Sergey Rabchenko, stopping him in the second round.
Kell stepped on the gas from the first round, looking to take the centre of the ring and, whilst Rabchenko seemed game, the Sheffield native was clearly the superior boxer. With 1:52 left of the second round, Brook landed a beautiful right-hand uppercut, visibly shaking his opponent which set up the finisher, as Kell followed up with another big right hand, sending Sergey to the canvas, and keeping him there for the count.
So, the former IBF welterweight champion moves to 37-2 (26KOs), speaking to Sky Sports post-fight, Kell seemed more determined than ever to state his claim as one of Britain’s best, and without naming names, Brook made a call out to the rest of the 154lb division,
‘You thought you got rid of me. I’m putting everyone on notice. I’m the terminator and I’ll be back… Another win. I’m putting everyone on notice, I’m here to stay.’
Jermell Charlo called out Brook via Twitter on Friday as a possible June opponent, but there was no mention of the WBC champion after Brooks return to winning ways, the focus, from promoter Eddie Hearn, seemed to solely be on setting up a fight with fellow Brit, Amir Khan,
‘There aren’t the big names in the division at 154lb, well guess what? There is now… Kell Brook has passed the test. Amir Khan has got to pass the test April 21st, Kell will be ringside for that as well.’
‘Kell wants to fight in June. Back to the gym on Monday. Let’s get busy, let’s make up for lost time.’
Arguably fight of the night, on an underwhelming undercard, was Gavin McDonnell’s unanimous decision victory over Gamal Yafai. Gamal, was unbeaten (14-0) going into the bout but as the rounds drew on, experience was king as McDonnell, now 19-1 (5KOs), began to dominate after the early rounds and there was no question over who had won when the final bell went.
McDonnell, whose only defeat came at the hands of WBC super-bantamweight champion, Rey Vargas, seemed ready again to talk about challenging at the top level of his division,
‘If I was to lose tonight it would have killed me. I knew my career was on the line…I just want big fights and as long as I’m moving in the right direction, a world title will come.’
Hoping to avenge his May 2017 defeat to Lenroy Thomas, and fighting in running shoes, Dave Allen left the Sheffield Arena disappointed after an accidental clash of heads in the first round put an end to the rematch. Allen was stalking the Commonwealth champion early when, with 44 seconds left of the first round, the two butted heads as Thomas landed an uppercut. The referee immediately called a timeout as the blood came pouring from a deep cut above the ‘Doncaster De La Hoya’s’ right eye, and minutes later put an end to the bout, calling a technical draw.
One of the early bouts of the card saw super middleweight, Rocky Fielding, 26-1 (14KOs) dominate Czech journeyman, Karel Horejsek over 8 rounds. Post-fight Eddie Hearn revealed that Fielding, most likely due to his first-round stoppage of David Brophy in September, had managed to manoeuvre his way up the rankings and into a shot at WBO champion Gilberto Ramirez,
‘We’ve been in talks this week. It looks like it will take place in June, we’re just working on the deal now, it’s quite close…The matchup would likely take place stateside and as long as the deal is right, we will accept the fight.’
Can Sergey Kovalev Bounce Back from Defeat?
By: Jacob Tanswell
At one time, not so long ago, he was viewed as the the most feared boxer in the game, Sergey “the Krusher” Kovalev is now firmly at a crossroads in his boxing life. On November 25th, he has an opportunity to get back to winning ways,regaining the WBO World Light Heavyweight Title in the process against Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1) and perhaps salvage his career.
After suffering two contentious defeats to the recently retired Andre Ward, Sergey Kovalev is having to evaluate his future. After being considered as one of the pound for pound best, who was seen as an unbeatable, powerful and a “beast from the east,” Kovalev has well and truly been a victim of his own hype. After weaknesses being exposed in the two Ward fights along with some staggering revelations from previous trainers, there is an argument from the fans that he is no longer “the Krusher.” The question is, has the former unified champion regained that hunger that made him so successful? Or is he continuing with the same mindset and bad habits?
On the back of an 8th round stoppage defeat to Andre Ward in June, shocking allegations have been made about Kovalev. Along the with increased strain on his promotional relationship with Kathy Duva, John David Jackson, his former trainer, has had some choice words to say about him. During a number of controversial interviews, Jackson claimed that once Kovalev found success, he lost his appetite and desire; he often didn’t train as hard and would regularly drink vodka and other alcohol during training camp. Furthermore, he insisted that the Russian couldn’t take a shot to the body and knew “Ward would get to his body” in the rematch which in the end, proved correct. Jackson and another former trainer in Abel Sanchez unanimously agreed Sergey was very difficult to train and had complex personality traits which caused tension in their partnerships. Since being catapulted into stardom, the once determined fighter who was brought up through hardship and struggle, became embroiled in his ultra ego – “the Krusher.” Everywhere you went in his training camp, them two words could be seen. Many believed he thought he was superhuman; no one could touch him. Now, after two loses, that notorious reputation is currently plunged in crisis after falling from grace. Its up to him to regain that tag and prove himself amongst the elite in the division.
In order to reaffirm himself on the light heavyweight scene, he needs to get that “hunter” mentality back, starting with the fight on the 25th. A good performance and a win will certainly go along way to convince doubters that Kovalev has his hunger back and has realised he has a point to prove. Then, eventually, he can finally put the Ward saga behind him, instead focusing on same huge dust ups in 2018 against possibly the new breed of superstars in Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol who are finding themselves in the same boat Kovalev was once on – tenacious fighters who are on the quest to achieve greatness…
HBO World Championship Boxing Preview: Kovalev vs. Shabranskyy
By: Ste Rowen
This coming Saturday the Madison Square Garden Theater, New York sees the return of Sergey ‘The Krusher’ Kovalev as he looks to regain the crown in the light heavyweight division after his two controversial defeats to Andre Ward. In his way stands Ukrainian fringe contender Vyacheslav ‘Lion Heart’ Shabranskyy, a man looking to establish himself as a frontrunner for a world title shot.
Photo Credit: David Spagnolo/Main Events
Twelve months ago, Sergey Kovalev (30-2-1) was reeling from his first professional career defeat. An unjust defeat to many. The highly anticipated bout between Sergey ‘The Krusher’ Kovalev and Andre ‘S.O.G.’ Ward neither disappointed, nor set alight into a real classic however, it did decide who was the consensus number one P4P fighter in the word. Unfortunately for the Russian, it was Andre who was given that crown, and the belts he held before their 19th November bout last year.
Almost seven months later he looked a completely different man to the feared light heavyweight juggernaut who stepped into the ring for the first bout. Rumours of needle between himself and trainer, John David Jackson did nothing to help convince those who backed Ward to a get a second win without any controversy this time.
Controversy is what unfolded though. Unlike the previous fight the Russian struggled to beat Ward to the punch and there was no knockdown in his favour to make the scorecards close even before the stoppage. Ward did what many thought was impossible, not the TKO victory, but the fact that Kovalev looked broken, and searching for a way out.
The old ‘Krusher’ wouldn’t have complained about Ward’s low blows, ‘The Krusher’ of previous fights would’ve fired back his own illegal shots ala Ricky Hatton vs Kostya Tszyu, but instead, after six unanswered punches to head, body, and almost definitely lower, the referee stepped in and called off the bout as Kovalev leant on the ropes almost folded in half.
In a recent interview with ‘Fight Hub TV’ Sergey said he’s cleaned up now, dropping the one or two beers he drank a day, and sticking to only water. He looks in supreme condition now, another criticism that followed Sergey going into the rematch with Ward, S.O.G. calling him soft bellied due to the training camp vodka Kovalev was supposedly enjoying. He also has a new trainer in tow but there remain questions over whether Abror Tursunpulatov is the man to rein Sergey back in if he’s lacking discipline in the fight itself or in camp.
Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1-0) himself twelve months ago was a relatively feared light heavyweight picking up notable victories over Paul Parker & Derrick Findley via stoppages, and a majority decision over, then 16-1-0 Yunieski Gonzalez. Momentum was slowed abruptly though when he was handed his first defeat comprehensively in December last year by Cuban, Sullivan Barrera, who fights on the undercard of Saturday’s main event vs Felix Valera.
In previous fights Vyacheslav has looked quick on his feet, constantly on his toes, looking for the opportunities to fire off quick left and right hooks. In his longest bout when he went ten rounds with Gonzalez, Shabranskyy took a more methodical approach, working behind the jab, counter-shots and short spurts of hooks; but last December there seemed a gulf in class between himself and Barrera.
Despite all the signs seemingly being that this would a well-matched fight, perhaps leaning toward the Ukrainian, after the first bell rang, Shabranskyy was ruthlessly dominated. Despite dropping the Cuban in round two, he himself was dropped in the 1st, 5th and 7th when the referee called the fight. He’s steadily built himself back into winning form with a routine win over journeyman Larry Pryor and a fight ruled a TKO victory for the Ukrainian, in an ugly encounter with Todd Unthank May; the fight stopped in the seventh due to cuts.
Shabranskyy is not as polished as Kovalev despite his amateur background. If allowed to attack he will hit the throttle and test what resolve Kovalev has left after the two Ward fights. The Ukrainian however, leaves his chin wide open for the counter, and even if Saturday night’s Kovalev isn’t the Russian of 2015, if the power is still there, Kovalev will only need a few opportunities to put it on his opponent and turn the fight.
At his best, ‘The Krusher’s’ jab was king, and if he’s able to throw it as he did in fights before the second defeat to Ward, it will be a sure sign the Russian is back somewhere close to his best. Another positive for Kovalev is that it was evident in Shabranskyy’s sole defeat, he couldn’t work out how to get around the jab, which setup his eventual downfall in the fight.
Like most fighters returning from a possibly career defining loss, the big question is, ‘Will Kovalev be motivated to keep on fighting?’ He achieved light heavyweight supremacy, even if the WBC title held by Adonis Stevenson alluded Sergey. The WBO strap will be on the line for the weekend’s bout, a belt Sergey won back in 2013, when he beat up recently retired Nathan Cleverly for four rounds.
The current light heavyweight division, even without retired Andre Ward, is one of the most stacked. To name just the current title holders, newly crowned IBF and WBA champions respectively, Artur Beterbiev & Dmitry Bivol, along with WBC Champion Adonis Stevenson. Then add in contenders, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Badou Jack, Sullivan Barrera, Eleider Alvarez and Marcus Browne.
There will be no easy fights for any of the light heavyweights who dare to unify.
Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Lipinets vs. Kondo, Porter vs. Granados, Wilder vs. Stiverne
By: William Holmes
Last Saturday night Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua was able to successfully defend his belt against an overmatched Carlos Takam, but looked less than impressive in doing so.
This Saturday night the WBC Heavyweight Champion, Deontay Wilder, will look to defend his title against Bermane Stiverne in a rematch of a fight that Wilder convincingly won the first time.
Photo Credit: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME
Two other bouts will also be televised. Shawn Porter will look to get back into the welterweight title picture when he faces Adrian Granados in a WBC Welterweight Title eliminator. The first bout of the night will be for the vacant IBF Junior Welterweight Title and will be between Sergey Lipinets and Akihiro Kondo.
This card will take place at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York and will be televised live on Showtime.
The following is a preview of the three televised bouts.
Sergey Lipinets (12-0) vs. Akihiro Kondo (29-6-1); IBF Junior Welterweight Title
The opening bout of the night will be between Sergey Lipinets, a highly ranked prospect from Kazakhstan, and Akihiro Kondo, a tough rugged veteran from Japan.
Lipinets, at 28, is four years younger than Kondo but will be giving up about one inch in height. They both have notable power. Lipinets has ten career stoppage victories including four of his past five bouts. Kondo has sixteen stoppage victories including five straight KO/TKO wins.
Lipinets has been fairly active and fought three times in 2016 and once in 2017. Kondo fought twice in 2017 and four times in 2016.
Lipinets is also a former WAKO World Full Contact Kicking Boxing Champion at Light Welterweight.
Lipinets, despite only having twelve professional fights, has only faced on opponent with a losing record since the start of his professional career. He has already defeated the likes of Clarence Booth, Leonardo Zappavigna, Walter Castillo, and Haskell Rhodes.
Kondo has never fought as a professional outside of Japan. More specifically, he never fought outside of Korakuen Hall in Japan as a professional. His list of defeated opponents is less than impressive and includes boxers such as Komsan Polsan, Shogo Yamaguchi, and Ryuji Migaki. His losses were to Nihito Arakawa, Yoshitaka Kato, Tomoya Yamada, and Rick Sismundo.
Kondo will likely be a tough opponent that has the ability to go the distance, but his six losses in Japan are hard to overlook as well as his lack of a notable victory over a well known opponent. Lipinets should win, but he may have to box conservatively to avoid a shocking knockout loss and win a safe decision victory.
Shawn Porter (27-2-1) vs. Adrian Granados (18-5-2); Welterweights
Shawn Porter is another boxer looking to get back into title contention as he faces Adrian Granados in the welterweight division.
Porter is two years older than Granados but still in his athletic prime at the age of thirty. He will be giving up two inches in height and about four and a half inches in reach to the taller Granados.
Both boxers has fairly successful amateur careers. Porter was a US National Golden Gloves Champion while Granados was a Junior Golden Gloves National Champ.
Both boxers have been fairly inactive the past two years. They both only fought once in 2016 and once in 2017.
Porter has higher number of knockouts. He has stopped seventeen of his opponents while Granados has stopped twelve. Porter also has the better resume as a professional. He has defeated the likes of Andre Berto, Adrien Broner, Erick Bone, Paul Malignaggi, Devon Alexander, Julio Diaz, Phil Lo Greco, and Ray Robinson. His losses were to Keith Thurman and Kell Brook.
Granados lost a close fight to Adrien Broner and scored a big upset over Amir Imam. However, he has lost to the likes of Brad Solomon, Felix Diaz, Frankie Gomez, and a Joe Juan Fuentes.
Granados is a viable opponent because of his close fight with Adrien Broner and his upset victor over Amir Imam, but Porter is too experienced to lose a fight over an opponent like Granados at this stage of his career.
Deontay Wilder (38-0) vs. Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1); WBC Heavyweight Title
The man event of the evening is between Deontay Wilder and Bermane Stiverne for the WBC Heavyweight Title. They previously met in January of 2015, a fight which went the full twelve rounds and saw Wilder win a comfortable decision.
Wilder was originally scheduled to face Luis Ortiz, but a positive drug test by Ortiz forced the cancellation of that bout.
Wilder will have a five inch height and a three inch reach advantage over Stiverne. He is also seven years younger than his opponent. Stiverne, at the age of thirty eight, will likely have a very hard time getting another title shot if he’s not successful on Saturday.
Wilder has unbelievable knockout power. He has stopped thirty seven of his opponents and the only man to take him to the distance was Bermane Stiverne. Stiverne has twenty one stoppage victories on his resume but has only won one of his last five fights by stoppage.
Inactivty will hurt Stiverne. This will be his first fight in nearly two years. He last fought on November 14th of 2015. Wilder fought twice in 2016 and once in 2017.
Both boxers have a decent amateur background, but Wilder is the only one of the two to have medaled in the Summer Olympics.
Wilder has defeated the likes of Gerald Washington, Chris Arreola, Artur Szpilka, Eric Molina, Bermane Stiverne, Malik Scott, Siarhei Liakhovich, Audley Harrison, and Kelvin Price. Stiverne has defeated the likes of Derric Rossy, Chris Arreola, Ray Austin, and Kertson Manswell. His losses were to Deontay Wilder and Demetrice King, who has a record of 11-15 at the time.
It’s hard to imagine Stiverne having a better shot now, at the age of thirty eight, than he did two years ago, especially with his inactivity. This wasn’t Wilder’s first choice for an opponent, but it’s an opponent that he should feel fairly confident that he can beat, again.
Boxing Thoughts on an Eventful Summer
Boxing Thoughts on an Eventful Summer
By Adam J. Pollack
Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn. It is sad that all of the outrage about the alleged robbery actually robs Horn of the accolades that he rightfully deserves. That was a close fight, not a robbery, and Horn fought the perfect fight. Overall, he dictated and was more in control of matters than Pacquiao. Horn had awkward head movement, in-and-out side-to-side footwork, altering the tempos and rhythms of the fight, attacking ferociously, mauling and outworking Pac on the inside, pulling his head down (which Referee Mark Nelson allowed), occasionally butting, then moving and ducking again, showing his versatility. Horn fought the better fight, and had the superior generalship and energy in the contest. Except for the 9th round, Pac never could time or get a read on him, and his range was off. His energy levels overall were fairly low, and lower than they needed to be when he most needed energy late in the fight, when most thought Horn would fade from all of his work. But Horn was in great, superior shape, and Pac was not. All three judges had it for Horn unanimously.
Pacquiao did almost no fighting on the inside, but that is where he needed to work, because he was the shorter fighter with shorter arms, and often was falling short or missing from the outside owing to Horn’s footwork, head movement, and superior height and reach. But Pac was getting manhandled by Horn’s strength, particularly since Pac mostly tried to hold on the inside, rarely worked while there, rarely countered when close, and used a passive defense, which only encouraged Horn.
Let’s face it. Pac has gone up a lot of weight divisions over his lifetime. He looked like a blown-up lightweight fighting a thickly built middleweight in there. The size disparity was quite obvious. Horn’s height, reach, size and strength were big factors in the fight.
Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev. First of all, due credit must be given to Ward for being one of the most courageous champions in the sport. He always has been willing to fight the best out there, and he has proven it consistently, against guys still at the top of their games, which is more than one can say for a lot of so-called champions in this sport. That alone places him at the top or near the top of the pound-for-pound list. His resume features the who’s who of his division’s elites, from Kessler, Abraham, Froch, Dawson, and now Kovalev, not once, but twice. Even some of the lesser-known guys he has fought, like Edwin Rodriguez and Sullivan Barrera, have been real fighters who would be tough outs for anyone but Ward.
As for the Kovalev rematch, before the fight I said that if Kovalev thinks he can just go in there and overpower Ward, and not engage in some real honest reflection about some of his mistakes in the first fight, he was doomed to lose again. Andre Ward is a very smart fighter. Regardless of his poor start in the first fight, he was the one who made the adjustments to make that fight close, whereas after Ward adjusted, Kovalev did not. It likely would be the case that Ward, having learned a great deal from the first fight, would come into the second with a better game plan. I said that if Kovalev did not work on his inside game, footwork, relaxation, punch volume and gears, he was going to lose by an even wider margin this time, though I believed it would be via decision.
In the rematch, after the first few rounds, Kovalev looked lethargic, listless, and confused. He had even less energy than in the first fight. He made no adjustments, mentally was not all there, and seemed more fatigued than the relatively slow pace would have made one think he would be. Now some of his fatigue might have been owing to the occasional low blow, which oddly enough, Referee Tony Weeks either failed to see or failed to warn Ward about. Getting hit low tends to wear you down. But we all know that if the referee does not help you, you need to help yourself. But Kovalev did very little to help himself in any way.
Conversely, Ward’s defense was near perfect, he landed the cleaner crisper blows, particularly to the body, but also several solid jabs and lead rights to the chin. Kovalev clearly was hurt by the body blows, and he was affected by some solid blows to the chin. Like the first fight, after a competitive first 3 rounds, as of the 4th round, one could tell that Ward had adjusted and slightly taken over, and felt more comfortable, whereas Kovalev seemed more confused. By the middle of the fight, it certainly appeared that Ward was en route to another victory.
All that said, it doesn’t change the fact that Ward landed several low blows in the 7th and 8th rounds, and the final blow which doubled over Kovalev and led referee Tony Weeks to stop the contest, was low. True, Kovalev had been hurt by a right to the chin, but he was finished with a low blow. It should not have been stopped at that point. Kovalev should have been given a recovery period and the action allowed to resume, per the unified rules. The referee deprived Kovalev the opportunity to recover from the foul blow, Ward the opportunity to win cleanly and without controversy, and the fans the benefit of their bargain.
Kovalev subsequently has issued a statement that making weight has affected his endurance, and it might be time to move up to cruiserweight. We shall see.
Perhaps the more controversial fight was on the undercard: Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Moises Flores. Rigondeaux should have been disqualified. He clearly and flagrantly held and hit, which set up the knockout blow, which was thrown and landed after the bell rang. How in the world anyone could watch that and say Rigondeaux deserves to win by knockout is beyond me. It is a reflection of the utter lack of integrity in this sport. Sure they changed it days later to a no contest, but one has to wonder how they got it so wrong on fight night. The result that night was absolutely wrong. If you don’t want to be disqualified, don’t commit flagrant harm fouls. The reluctance to disqualify a name fighter for egregious breaches of the rules is in part why boxing does not have the same level of respect as a sport.
The July 15 fight card at the Forum in Los Angeles might not have the biggest names in boxing, but there are some really good match-ups that should prove entertaining.
Miguel Berchelt vs. Takashi Miura. Both guys come to fight. Junior lightweight Miura is a bit more of the unpolished tough brawler, and Berchelt a bit more of the boxer, but Berchelt also has the power to hurt as well, having scored 28 knockouts in his 31 victories. Berchelt hasn’t lost a fight in over three years, his only defeat, and is coming off a KO11 victory over then undefeated Francisco Vargas. Southpaw Miura, 31-3-2, has 24 knockout victories to his credit, and is coming off a KO12 over 56-11 Miguel Roman. He has a common opponent with Berchelt, having been stopped in 9 rounds by Francisco Vargas in a fight in which both fighters were down. Naturally Berchelt is the clear favorite, but Miura is no easy out.
Joe Smith, Jr., 23-1, 19 KOs, vs. Sullivan Barrera, 19-1, 14 KOs. This might well be the best and most intriguing match-up on the card. This will be a true test for Smith. There still are a lot of question-marks surrounding him. Right or wrong, folks can find ways to explain away his recent big victories – Fonfara got caught cold, Hopkins was 50 years old, had been beaten up by Kovalev, and hadn’t fought in two years. There is no doubt that Smith is a very heavy-handed puncher who probably can hurt anyone he hits. But does he have the power, skill, and condition needed to beat Barrera, a guy who went a competitive 12 rounds with Andre Ward in his only loss, and who has knockout victories over sturdy guys like Karo Murat and Vyacheslav Shabransky? That question makes this fight very intriguing. There definitely is a real aura of danger for Smith in this one.
Terence Crawford, 31-0, 22 KOs, might well be the actual best pound-for-pound fighter in the world right now, and he’s fighting to become the first undisputed and undefeated champion in his weight division in quite a long time. On August 19, he will be taking on undefeated southpaw Julius Indongo, 22-0, 11 KOs, who is awkward, tall, long, and strong, and should not be underestimated. This should be a worthwhile junior welterweight matchup. Watching Crawford is like watching poetry in motion. But Indongo is the type of guy who will do whatever it takes to muck it all up and make it ugly, if he can.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr., 49-0, 26 KOs, vs. Connor McGregor, pro boxing debut, on August 26. You know, it makes me laugh and roll my eyes a little just to write that a guy with 49 pro boxing fights is fighting a guy making his pro boxing debut. It reminds me of when Floyd Patterson defended his world heavyweight championship against then pro debuting Pete Rademacher. But you know, as ridiculous as that fight was in its inception, at least Rademacher had actual boxing experience, and had won an Olympic gold medal, in boxing.
To the best of my knowledge, Connor McGregor is an MMA fighter. Sure, stand-up boxing is an element of MMA, but it isn’t what the sport is. Thinking this is a real fight is like taking the best ping pong player in the world and matching him in a tennis match with Roger Federer, or vice versa. Or taking the best bicyclist and putting him on a track to run against the world’s best 10,000 meter runner. At first blush, some might say ‘Maybe, they are similar,’ but anyone who understands the real differences between the sports understands it is more like apples and oranges than one might think. McGregor has no more chance to defeat Floyd in boxing than Floyd has to defeat McGregor in MMA.
Sure, McGregor will last some rounds, owing to the fact that Floyd is extremely careful, cautious, defensive-minded, and minimalist offensively. But don’t let that fool you or give you the wrong impression about McGregor’s performance. Floyd’s caution is all the more reason why McGregor has almost zero chance – Floyd won’t give him the opportunity to land even a lucky punch. He’s going to methodically pick him apart and bust him up.
The fight is non-competitive in its inception. If folks want to buy that, and there is a market for that, then so be it. If you purchase and pay for it, all you are doing is encouraging more ridiculous fights like this to occur. Floyd is a businessman who wants to make the most money for the least risk, so if the fight earns him a lot of money, from a business perspective, one cannot fault him. It certainly is the least risk possible. It will be the easiest money he has earned in a long time, perhaps ever. But from a sporting perspective, he deserves excoriation.
Mayweather is banking on the fact that there is a market for the freak show, the side show, the curiosity. This isn’t boxing as much as it is show business. This is like a circus, with promotion which will be akin to wrestlemania, and like the ringleader and circus master P.T. Barnum once said, “There is a sucker born every minute.” Back in 1910, when Jack Johnson defeated James J. Jeffries, who had been the betting favorite despite not having fought in six years, one observer wrote, “We fool ourselves every day more than other people fool us.” This fight is a fight to fool fools who will help fool themselves.
Perhaps some MMA folks will watch to see how well an MMA fighter can do with an elite boxer, and some boxing folks will watch to see the boxer pummel the MMA fighter. Some might liken it to Rocky. Some folks will be hoping that McGregor, like Rocky, shocks the world with his performance. But we all know what happens in real life.
Japan’s world superflyweight champion Naoya Inoue, 13-0, 11 KOs, is one of the best, most talented pound-for-pound fighters in the world, but amongst the least known top fighters. He will be fighting Antonio Nieves, 17-2-2 on September 9 in California. Check him out. You are in for a real treat.
Andre Ward crushes Sergey Kovalev and shows he is King
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.
Kovalev Gets Shafted by Ward and the Referee Again!
Kovalev Gets Shafted by Ward and the Referee Again!
By: Ken Hissner
Foul’s ended two fights while the Nevada commission allowed this to happen on the PPV event. The event was held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, Events Center in Las Vegas, NV. Another black eye for boxing!
WBO, WBA and IBF light heavyweight champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward, was given the stoppage over Russian Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, 30-2-1 (16), of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, at 2:29 of the 8th round.
In the opening Kovalev outlanded Ward who did more clinching than fighting. In the second round Kovalev used an effective jab. Ward hit Kovalev low and referee Tony Weeks gave him a minute rest. In the third round Kovalev landed the best punch of the fight up until that point a right to the head of Ward. In the fourth round Ward got in a jab and right hand though Kovalev continued to press the action. Looked like the first round Ward won.
In the fifth round Kovalev bloodied Ward’s nose. In the sixth round Ward landed a good left hook to the chin of Kovalev. Kovalev continues to outpunch Ward. In the seventh round Ward outlanded Kovalev in a close round. In the eighth round Ward rocked Kovalev with a right to the head hurting him. Kovalev did his best to hold on but was hit low for the third time without losing a point. The fourth low blow doubled Kovalev over while the referee Ton Weeks suddenly stopped the fight not DQ’ing Ward but giving him the win.
Judges Glen Feldman and Dave Moretti had Ward ahead 67-66 while Steve Weisfeld had Kovalev ahead 68-65 as did this writer.
WBA Super World Super bantamweight champion Cuban southpaw Guillermo Rigondeaux, 18-0 (12), of Miami, FL, hit Flores “after the bell” but the referee was overruled by the Executive Director Bob Bennett ruling a knockout over IBO Super bantamweight champion Moises “Chucky” Flores, 25-1 (17), of Guadalajara, MEX, at the end of the 1st round.
For some reason referee Robert Byrd was allowed to talk and influence Bennett while referee Vic Drakulich wanted it called a NC. Bennett said it was a punch before the bell sounded though the replay showed it was after the round. Bennett said he got word from the truck confirming it was before while HBO commentator Jim Lampley of HBO said he called someone in the truck and got the opposite answer. Roy Jones, Jr. agreed it was a knockout despite watching the replay show it was a punch “after the bell”.
In the first round Flores did all the punching until the 10 second warning when Rigondeaux grabbed Flores behind the head and hit him with a pair of uppercuts to the midsection when the bell sounded Rigondeaux hit Flores with a left hand to the head and to the canvas.
USBA Middleweight champion Luis Arias, 18-0 (9), of Milwaukee, WI, stopped Arif Magomedov, 18-2 (11) at 1:16 of the 5th round.
In a close 4 rounds Arias was allowed to clinch and hit Magomedov in the kidney and behind the head without warning from referee Robert Byrd. In the 5th round during a clinch referee Byrd out of position behind Magomedov grabbed him by the arms while Arias “sucker punched” him to the head. Referee Byrd only warned Arias without taking a point. Within 30 seconds a right hand from Arias dropped Magomedov. After beating the count Arias jumped on him causing referee Byrd to halt the fight.
WBA World light heavyweight champion, Dmitry Bivol, 11-0 (9), of St. Petersburg, RUS, stopped southpaw Cedric Agnew, 29-3 (15), of Chicago, IL, at 1:27 of round 4.
In the opening round Bivol dropped Agnew with a combination to the head. In the following 2 rounds Bivol beat up on Agnew who kept his hands up and threw very little in return. In the fourth round Agnew suffered a bloody nose and swelling under both eyes. Bivol landed a left hook driving Agnew back a few steps forcing referee Russell Mora to wisely call a halt.
It was a sad night for boxing. NV insists on using their own referee who are average at best. The PPV buyers got shortchanged again!
Ward Stops Kovalev With Violent Body Attack
Ward Stops Kovalev With Violent Body Attack
By: Sean Crose
No one could have predicted this. No one.
For Andre Ward stopped the frightening Sergey Kovalev…with body blows in the eighth round. Truly, it was a stunning and brutal end for the light heavyweight title fight. For it was Kovalev who was long known as the terrifying ring monster. Ward, on the other hand, was seen more as the tactician. Yet ultimately the bout came down to tactical destruction. Seeing Kovalev crumpled helpless by the ropes was simply stunning for fight fans to see.
Photo Credit: HBO
It was some kind of fight.
And, sure enough, the fight seemed VERY close throughout. Kovalev’s shot were hard and he was as aggressive as they came as he stalked Ward about the ring. The night, however, ultimately belonged to Ward “I’ve never been the most talented,” Ward claimed after the bout, as he thanked Jesus. “I’ve never been the biggest.” He didn’t need to be, either. Even though it looked to this writer that he was losing almost as many rounds as he was winning, Ward’s body attack took a brutal toll on his Russian nemesis.
Kovalev claimed that Ward hit him low on several occasions. On the last occasion, however it seemed as if Kovalev was feinting injury from a submarine shot that wasn’t actually a submarine shot. Indeed, the shot seemed to land on the beltline at worst. Perhaps Ward sensed it, too, for Kovalev was clearly hurt shortly thereafter. And then the Oakland native went for the kill, ending things by tearing into the body rather than the head. It proved to be a perfect strategy, as referee Tony Weeks stepped in and stopped the bout.
It was an interesting night of boxing in other ways, as well. For Guillermo Rigondeaux knocked out Moises Flores with a shot that clearly landed after the bell closed the second round of their super bantamweight fight. Whether the shot was launched before or after the bell rang was a matter of some debate – but it was the Miami resident’s bout…at least for the time being.
In earlier fights, Dmitry Bivol stopped Cedric Agnew in a light heavyweight bout that made it clear that Agnew no longer has the skill which once troubled Sergey Kovalev a few years ago. Earlier still, Luis Arias dominated Arif Magomedov in the fifth round of a middeweight affair.
Re-Visiting the Ward vs. Kovalev I “Robbery”
Re-Visiting the Ward vs. Kovalev I “Robbery”
By: Matt O’Brien
In the immediate aftermath of Andre Ward’s unanimous victory over Sergey Kovalev in their first fight last November, emotions from both sets of fans were running high and the controversial nature of the decision elicited some intense scrutiny of the judges’ scorecards. Cries of “robbery” flooded the web, with a deluge of fans enthusiastically taking up the “boxing is crooked” narrative. With the immediate rematch looming, here I take a look back and re-examine some of the perceptions, misconceptions and post-fight reaction to their first encounter.
One of the most widely circulated post-fight misconceptions has been the idea that the deficit created by the second-round knockdown fundamentally altered Ward’s chances of victory on the judges’ cards. See, for example, the myriad variations of the argument that, “there’s no way Ward won – especially with the knockdown!”
Somewhat counter-intuitively though, mathematically speaking the 10-8 round made no difference to the final outcome. Which sounds silly on the face of it, until you do some pretty basic maths: 7-5 in rounds gives a score of 115-113; minus a point from the winner’s score and you are still left with exactly the same winner. In fact, the only scenario where a knockdown ever plays a decisive role in the scoring (assuming no further point deductions occur, which they did not) is where the twelve rounds are evenly split at six each between both fighters.
So while it may be tempting to fall for the idea that Ward’s second-round trip to the canvas gave him a mountain to climb on the cards, actually the task facing him remained the same: he still needed to win a total of seven rounds in order to take the belts home. Of course, whether or not he deserved to win seven of the remaining rounds is a contentious issue, but assuming he did, the knockdown in round two is a moot point.
Perceptions vs. Reality
It’s also often been said that, having climbed off the canvas, Ward was then given too much credit in the scoring simply because he wasn’t “getting beaten up as badly as he was earlier”, rather than for actually winning the rounds. And there is some merit to this idea. After all, anyone who was expecting and/or hoping that Ward would be the superior boxer going into the fight would have found enough reason to justify their pre-fight narrative based on the way he responded in the ensuing rounds.
However, this kind of perception cuts both ways. The most tangible and dramatic moments are naturally the ones that leave the most lasting impression in our minds, and with the Russian continuing to be the aggressor after flooring Ward in the second, the lingering sense that he was still dominating the action even after the seminal moment had passed was not an easy one to shake off. As Max Kellerman noted for the HBO commentary during the sixth round: “Psychologically I think it sways observers to think that Kovalev is doing maybe a little better than he’s actually doing.”
The reality unfolding in the rounds following the knockdown was probably somewhere in-between these two perspectives. Kovalev continued to be the aggressor, but he was never quite as effective as he was in the second round; meanwhile Ward did begin to get a foothold in the fight, but had not established any kind of firm control.
The Late Rounds Rally
One of the main bones of contention from those who cried robbery was Ward’s virtual whitewash on the scorecards over the second half of the fight, in which Kovalev was only awarded a single round (the twelfth) by a single judge. With most of these rounds being closely contested, many fans cited the near clean-sweep as evidence of the judges’ incompetence, since there was no way Ward “dominated” Kovalev so conclusively.
The problem with this argument is that rounds that are decisively won and those that are nicked by the finest of margins are both scored 10-9, and judges are supposed to view every round as an individual entity, not try to “balance” their scores according to how close the action has been overall. In other words, a series of rounds that are edged by one fighter produce a lopsided score total that does not necessarily reflect just how competitive the action as a whole has been. Consequently, even though Ward did not “dominate” Kovalev over the second half of the fight, in the sense of putting a beating on him and decisively winning every single round, that doesn’t mean he didn’t deserve to “dominate” the scoring on the cards, assuming that he was consistently doing better – even by the tiniest of margins. And there is evidence to support the idea that this was actually the case.
Firstly, the punch stats indicate that Ward was the more effective boxer from round seven onwards. Although Kovalev recorded a slightly higher number of landed punches over the fight as a whole (10 more total punches) over the last half of the fight it was Ward who connected with more (80-74 in total), landing more in four out of the last six rounds. He also connected at a higher percentage in every round from 7-12, even though Kovalev threw more shots in all except the seventh – indicating that while the champion was still the aggressor, it was the challenger who had the much superior accuracy and defence.
Secondly, it’s also worth bearing in mind Kovalev’s own words in the buildup to the rematch. Speaking on HBO’s “24/7” program, the former champ admitted that, “[the] first four rounds, I didn’t feel it. But in the fifth round, my energy finished… I mean, I finished the fight, all the twelve rounds. But I just don’t know how I managed all the remaining seven rounds.” Again, this would seem to indicate that Ward’s second-half resurgence was much more than just a figment of our imaginations.
The Swing Rounds
HBO’s Harold Lederman is a respected analyst and the broadcaster’s longtime on-air scoring guide. He had Kovalev winning the fight comfortably, by a margin of 116-111. Taking the scorecard of someone who had Kovalev clearly winning the fight as a benchmark then, is it really so outlandish to suggest that Ward should have emerged the winner? The evidence says no: in fact, even using a card that favours Kovalev so widely, it only takes three swing rounds out of twelve to produce a different result. And it is not difficult to find three such potential rounds on his card.
Consider, for example, that after eight completed rounds Lederman had Kovalev in a 5-3 lead. Notably though, Lederman’s colleague Max Kellerman stated during the eighth round: “In terms of the scores, Harold has given two rounds to Kovalev that I thought could have been given to Ward”. Swinging just one of these rounds on Lederman’s card would then put the fighters dead even at four rounds each going into the last third of the fight. Then consider Lederman’s view of the ninth round, which seemed way off base. Ward clearly landed the more eye-catching blows and according to the punch stats it was actually his best round of the fight (Kellerman again immediately voiced his opinion that he thought Lederman’s reading of the round was wrong).
Far from needing to give Ward “every benefit of the doubt” then, in fact using Lederman’s card we’d only need to swing two rounds out of the first eleven to put Ward into a 6-5 lead going into the final round. As it turned out, the twelfth was another close one in which the official judges and many pundits were split – a classic “swing round” that could reasonably be scored in either direction.
The upshot of all of this is that whether or not you thought Ward deserved the decision, it makes no sense to claim that the judges’ verdict was implausible. The truth is that it was a close fight where both men had palpable moments of ascendency. Kovalev made an excellent start, but his lead was far from insurmountable and Ward clearly fought more effectively over the second half of the fight. From the third round onwards there were several swing rounds where a good case could be made for either boxer; which way you saw those rounds essentially determined how you scored the fight.
So if you thought Kovalev deserved to be the winner, by all means state your case. But let’s not pretend the first fight was a robbery – the sport has enough problems without adding phony ones to the list. The two men will settle their difference in the ring tonight, so let’s hope the result will be more clear cut this time whichever way it goes, and just sit back and enjoy a rematch between two of the best fighters in the sport.
The Best Match In Boxing Is Going Down This Saturday…Does Anyone Care?
The Best Match In Boxing Is Going Down This Saturday…Does Anyone Care?
By: Sean Crose
While the sports world focuses on more frivolous matters this week, the best matchup in all of combat sports is going down this Saturday. No, it doesn’t involve a loudmouthed Irishman or a flashy hedonist with a perfect record. Believe it or not, it doesn’t even involve a red headed Mexican and a Kazakh knockout machine. No, the best match in all of combat sports involves a Russian immigrant and a churchgoing Californian who are set to collide in the city of Las Vegas. Few outside of the world of boxing even know it’s happening. Perhaps few inside the world of boxing even care.
And that, friends, is really too bad. For Saturday night’s Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev fight for light heavyweight supremacy promises boxing at it’s best. Exquisite skill. Frightening power. Two men with a lot to prove. Ward-Kovalev II has it all. The first fight between both men last fall wasn’t a classic, but it was damn good, with Ward pulling off a close, yet controversial decision win. Each man now aims to settle things once and for all. Oh, and they don’t like each other. Or at least Kovalev despises Ward. In fact, he despises Ward so bad, he’s made it clear he wants to hurt the man.
Considering the fact that Kovalev has already ended one life, that’s legitimately frightening stuff. Not that the Russian is actually looking to kill Ward, he’s just looking to dispense a world class ass kicking. Ward, on the other hand, is clearly looking to take his opponent to school. And by the way, the guy’s really good at taking opponents to school. One suspects Ward’s also looking to let Kovalev know he’s no pushover. In other words, there’s a lot to look forward to here. The question, however, is whether or not anyone’s actually looking forward to it.
This writer is, and no doubt others are, as well. Probably not too many others, though, and that’s a shame. Neither Ward nor Kovalev has an enormous fan base. People aren’t going to fly across the Atlantic by the jet full for this fight. Nor is an army of people donning hats declaring its preferred fighter the best ever going to be spotted around Vegas this weekend. Nope. This fight is for the purists. As George Foreman once said, boxing is like jazz, the better it is, the less people like it.
Here’s hoping for some seriously good jazz this weekend.
HBO PPV Preview: Rigondeaux vs. Flores, Bivol vs. Agnew, Ward vs. Kovalev
HBO PPV Preview: Rigondeaux vs. Flores, Bivol vs. Agnew, Ward vs. Kovalev
By: William Holmes
HBO Sports will present four fights on Pay Per View on Saturday night which will feature a main event rematch between the two top boxers in the light heavyweight division, Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward.
Their first bout was a close and entertaining affair that saw Ward scratch out a decision victory after being knocked down early in the bout. Ward and Kovalev genuinely dislike each other and this bout should be as entertaining as the first one.
Main Events and Roc Nation will be co-promoting this event which will take place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The following is a preview of three of the planned televised bouts.
Dmitry Bivol (10-0) vs. Cedric Agnew (29-2); Light Heavyweights
Prospect Dmitry Bivol is a two time Russian National Gold Medalist as an amateur at two different weights and has never tasted defeated. He lives in Russia but was born in Kyrgyzstan and has never tasted defeated.
Bivol will be four years younger than Agnew, who just turned thirty. They are both six feet tall. Agnew was a runner up in the National Golden Gloves as an amateur.
Both boxers have decent power, but Bivol appears to be the harder puncher. He has eight stoppage wins in only ten fights, while Agnew has fifteen stoppage wins and one stoppage loss.
Bivol has been very active and already fought twice in 2017 and three times in 2016. He has defeated the likes of Samuel Clarkson, Robert Berridge, and Felix Valera. Bivol has never faced someone with a losing record, which is rare for prospects as they are usually brought up slowly.
Agnew’s biggest wins have come against boxers past their primes. He has defeated the likes of Yusaf Mack, Otis Griffin, and Daniel Judah. His two losses were to Sergey Kovalev and a man that Bivol has defeated, Samuel Clarkson.
Agnew is a decent boxer with a good looking record, but he’s been fairly inactive since his loss to Kovalev. He only fought once in 2017 and did not fight at all in 2016. This is a bout that Bivol should win quite easily.
Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0) vs. Moises Flores (25-0); WBA Junior Featherweight Title
Guillermo Rigondeaux is one of boxing’s best talents and unfortunately, one of boxing’s most avoided fighters.
He’s a two time Olympic Gold Medalist and a two time Gold Medalist in the world amateur championships. He’s slick, quick, and has some incredible defense on top of pin point accuracy. But, his style is considered boring by the average fan and he struggles to bring in a large fan base.
He’s facing his mandatory challenger for his WBA Junior Featherweight title, but it doesn’t appear Flores will be a real challenge to him.
Flores does have an edge in the physicals. He’s six years younger than Rigondeaux and will have a five inch height advantage and about a one inch reach advantage. He’s also been more active than Rigondeaux, but not by much. Flores fought once in 2016 and twice in 2015. Rigondeaux fought once in 2016 and once in 2015.
Flores also doesn’t have the amateur pedigree of Rigondeaux and hasn’t faced good opposition.
Rigondeaux has defeated the likes of James Dickens, Drian Francisco, Joseph Agbeko, Nonito Doniare, Roberto Marroquin, Teon Kennedy, and Rico Ramos. He has eleven stoppage wins on his record but has been unable to entice any of the other world champions to face him in the ring.
Flores has spent most of his career fighting in Mexico against sub-par opposition. He has seventeen stoppage victories, but only two of his past five fights resulted in a TKO or KO victory. His notable wins have come against Oscar Escandon and Mario Macias.
Rigondeaux needs an entertaining victory badly if he wants to stay relevant and land a date on HBO or Showtime. Hopefully he takes some risks to go for the stoppage on Saturday, but there’s little to no doubt that will emerge victorious.
Andre Ward (31-0) vs. Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1); WBO, WBA, and IBF Light Heavyweight Titles
Their first bout was close, very close, and many boxing aficionados thought Kovalev did enough to win the decision. However, the judges disagreed and scored the bout 114-113 on all three cards for Andre Ward.
Luckily for fight fans they get to witness a rare rematch between two of a division’s best on Saturday night, between two boxers who genuinely dislike each other.
Both boxers are nearing the end of their prime. Ward is thirty three years old and Kovalev is thirty four. They are both six feet tall and Kovalev will have a slight one and a half reach advantage on Ward.
Ward is known for his slick, defensive boxing and his accurate counter punching. Kovalev is known for his devastating power. Ward only has fourteen stoppages in his career while Kovalev has twenty six of his opponents.
However, Kovalev’s last two opponents made it all twelve rounds and he was not able to stop the aged Bernard Hopkins. Kovalev’s power appears to be waning.
Ward had a considerable amount of success as an amateur and was able to win the Gold Medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Kovalev won a gold medal in the Russian Amateur Championships, but did not experience the type of success Ward experienced as an amateur.
Ward has defeated the likes of Alexander Brand, Sullivan Barrera, Edwin Rodriguez, Chad Dawson, Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, Sakio Bika, Allan Green, Mikkel Kessler, Edison Miranda, and of course Sergey Kovalev.
Kovalev has defeated the likes of Isaac Chilemba, Jean Pascal, Bernard Hopkins, Blake Caparello, Ismayl Sillah, Nathan Cleverly, and Gabriel Campillo.
Ward is a slick, intelligent boxer who’s able to adjust his style mid match to defeat his opponent. Kovalev’s power caught him off guard in their first fight, but he was able to adjust and win a majority of the rounds in the second half of the fight. Kovalev’s power appears to be escaping him and he looked frustrated in the later rounds against Ward.
Even though their first bout was very close, a rematch favors Ward and this writer expects him to win by a more comfortable margin.
Dmitry Bivol Interview: “If I see the opportunity to end the fight I will go for it”
Dmitry Bivol Interview: “If I see the opportunity to end the fight I will go for it”
By: Matthew N. Becher
Dmitry Bivol is a highly touted young prospect from St. Petersburg, Russia. He sports an undefeated record of 10 wins with 8 coming by way of the knockout. Bivol is only 26 years old, and is already the WBA #1 contender in the light heavyweight division. On June 17th he will fight on the HBO pay per view undercard against his toughest challenger yet, the crafty veteran Cedric Agnew. We spoke with Dmitry as he was putting the last touches on his training camp.
Boxing Insider: How is training camp going?
Dmitry Bivol: The training camp has gone very well. Tomorrow we will have the final sparring and today we had a good run. Yeah, everything is good and we are just waiting for the fight.
Boxing Insider: What is your game plan for a veteran like Agnew?
Dmitry Bivol: I think I don’t have to waste too much energy in the beginning, because he tends to be very defensive. I think I should keep the distance and I should find the openings in his defense to react to. I think those are the three things I should focus on.
Boxing Insider: Is it more important for you to make this fight last longer and get some rounds under your belt, or to look for a quick stoppage?
Dmitry Bivol: I think the knockout is always a good result, but I am ready to go the distance, to go all the rounds, I am prepared for that. To be honest, if I see the opportunity to end the fight I will go for it. But we will have to see during the fight. I am ready to go all the rounds, but I am also ready to end the fight.
Boxing Insider: What are your goals for the rest of 2017?
Dmitry Bivol: I don’t like to look too much ahead, I tend to focus on what is right in front of me. I’m just looking at this fight that is happening on June 17th. As far as plans go, we’ll see after this fight, the only thing I can say is I will look to fight once or maybe twice more by the end of the year.
Boxing Insider: How are you feeling fighting on such a big pay per view event in such a big venue?
Dmitry Bivol: I’m very happy to be fighting on this card, it is very big. I am happy to be fighting on the network and in that arena. I’m very motivated and it is a great achievement of my team, because it’s my 11th fight and it’s such a big magnitude, such a big event, so I’m happy.
Boxing Insider: Since you are fighting on the Ward v. Kovalev card, who do you think is going to win?
Dmitry Bivol: It is a very tough questions. I am sure I will be rooting for Kovalev. We know each other and have mutual friends and he is Russian, so I will be rooting for him. But I do have to say that I think this time the fight will play out a lot different, and Kovalev will have a lot more challenges. It will be a very interesting fight.
Ward, Kovalev Conference Calls Showcase Differences In Character
Ward, Kovalev Conference Calls Showcase Differences In Character
By: Sean Crose
Kovalev: “I hate him.”
Ward: “He’s a good fighter.”
Kovalev: “He didn’t deserve this belt.”
Ward: “It doesn’t take a close decision to get criticism.”
Kovalev: “I want to punish him.”
Andre Ward. Sergey Kovalev. Two men. Two highly regarded light heavyweights. Opponents. Enemies. Individuals with completely different ways of going about things. Kovalev, who goes by the name of Krusher, has no use for Ward, who squeaked by with a win against him via a controversial decision last fall. Now, with a rematch closing in, the Russian is a man on a mission. “I have a really big motivation for this fight,” he said during a Tuesday conference call. “I want to get back my belt.”
Ward himself had a lot to say during his own Wednesday conference call, but the two media calls couldn’t be further apart. Kovalev, for instance, was all business on Tuesday. Personable, sure (he’s actually a personable guy, Kovalev), but all business. Ward, on the other hand, was eager to talk about things outside of boxing on Wednesday. A religious man, Ward spoke frequently about God and about his own less than showy nature. “At the end of the day,” he said, “I just have to be me.”
Ironically enough, the Ward-Kovalev rematch, which will go down in Vegas a week from Saturday, looks to be the last time the two men will meet in the ring. That might be a shame. The fighters are so different that they make interesting opposition. Yet there’s intense dislike in play between the two fighter’s camps. “No more rematch clause,” promoter Kathy Duva claimed. “This is it.” Here’s hoping Andre-Sergey 2 brings some closure to the whole saga. “There’s no obligation,” Duva reiterated, “for there to be a rematch.”
With that in mind, it’s worth wondering if the two Ward-Kovalev matches will have as little in common as the fighters themselves do. I asked Kovalev trainer John David Jackson if he felt team Ward might make adjustments this time around. “They may,” Jackson said. Yet he made it clear he felt there wasn’t much Ward could do. “What adjustments can Ward make?” he asked. “He can’t get much more ready than he is now.” The respected trainer then indicated that Ward will change his performance at his own risk, stating that if Ward fights differently, “he’s playing Russian Roulette and he’s going to get clipped.”
For his own part, Ward trainer Eric Hunter had his own take on what’s to come. “As for this rematch,” he claimed on Wednesday, “all I can say is, oh boy.”