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Controversial Finish? Ward decisions Kovalev
The debate as to whether Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) or Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) is the best fighter in the world continues, as Ward escaped as the unified WBO/WBA and IBF light-heavyweight champion following a razor-thin 12-round unanimous decision at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas last Saturday.
Ward-Kovalev was exactly the kind of drama that fight fans have been craving for so long. The year 20-16 was a very disappointing year for boxing. However, fights like Thurman-Porter, Canelo-Khan, Golovkin-Brook, Frampton-Santa Cruz, and Ward-Kovalev at least gave the boxing community relevant to discuss. At least the controversy that surrounds Ward-Kovalev in its aftermath may result in a highly-anticipated rematch.
While you can also make a strong case for Ward, many people thought Kovalev beat Ward. It was a very tough fight to call, especially for the judges. All three judges scored the bout 114-113 for Ward. It doesn’t get any closer than that.
“I was not surprised when I heard the decision I don’t know where you got that from,” Ward. “I know it was a close fight. The crowd you can hear they thought I won. I have been a champ before. I knew it was going to be a tough fight.”
Kovalev, recognized for being one of the hardest and accurate punchers in all of boxing, seriously hurt Ward in the opening round and scored a knockdown in the second round. Kovalev continuously landed bombs and had Ward in serious trouble. However, Ward, a true champion, found a way to soundly fight his way back into the fight. He exchanged bombs with Kovalev, who appeared to have hurt Ward every time he landed the left hand. Both fighters landed tremendous shots, but Ward’s patience and resiliency proved pivotal.
But did Ward do enough to take Kovalev’s titles away from him?
“It was the first time in my career I was dropped,” Ward said. “He did everything I expected him to do. He started to show up as I expected. My coach did a great job. It’s hard for me to call myself great. At the end of the day I am a two-weight division champion.”
Ward, a former unified WBC/WBA super middleweight champion, World Boxing Classic tournament winner, and 2004 Olympic gold medalist, has never fought anything like Kovalev. Kovalev is truly a beast, and he, along with many others, strongly believes he did enough to win the fight.
“It’s the wrong decision,” Kovalaev said. “I don’t want to say my opinion. The witnesses are here; they saw it. It’s my job. It was a fight of my life. I am disappointed in the judges’ decision. He got maybe a few rounds; I agree with that. I kept control. I lost maybe three rounds the whole fight. Of course I want a rematch and I will kick his ass. I want to show good boxing. I am against here, it is the USA, and all the judges were from the USA. He is a boxer. It’s a sport. Don’t make it politics; it is a sport and I won the fight.”
Ward-Kovalev II will headline an extensive list of highly anticipated fights that may also involve Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin finally facing one another.
“Of course I would do a rematch,” Ward said. “I am not going to negotiate a fight right now. I will go home and relax and see what’s next.”
In other bouts: undefeated light-heavyweight prospect Oleksandr Gvozdyk (12-0, 10 KOs) nailed Isaac Chilemba (24-5-2, 10 KOs) after eight rounds, as Chilemba’s trainer, Roy Jones, Jr. stopped the fight after his guy broke his right hand. “I’m very excited and happy,” Gyozdyk said. “What more can I say? This is the best feeling!”
Curtis Stevens (29-5, 21 KOs), the “Cerebral Assassin,” scored a unanimous decision win against James “The King” de la Rosa (23-5, 13 KOs) through 10 rounds. . Stevens, who dropped de la Rosa in the first round, injured his left hand in the fourth round. Stevens, who dominated the fight behind solid combinations and sound aggressiveness, was ahead on all three judges scorecards: 96-92 (twice) and 98-90. “I give myself a C minus,” Stevens said. “Could have thrown my jab a little more. I am glad I got the W but I am a little disappointed in myself. The jab was good but I could have popped that shit a little more. Hurt my left hand in the fourth round. He’s got a hard-ass head. But I am glad I got the win.”
Undefeated heavyweight prospect Darmani “Rock Solid” Rock (6-0, 4 KOs) defeated Brice Ritani-Coe (4-5-1, 3 KOs), via unanimous four-round decision. All three judges scored the bout: 40-36, 40-36, and 40-35.
Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields (1-0) defeated her long-time amateur rival Franchon Crews (0-1), also making her professional debut, in a four-round super middleweight bout. All three judges scored the bout 40-36 for Shields.
Featherweight Tyler McCreary (12-0, 6 KOs) won a majority decision against Vincent Jennings (5-3-1, 4 KOs) by scores of 57-57, 59-55, 58-56.
Junior welterweight prospect Sonny Fredrickson (15-0, 9 KOs) defeated Gabriel Duluc (11-2, 2 KOs), via unanimous decision after eight rounds.
Lastly, middleweight Meiirim Nursultanov (1-0) successfully launched his professional career with a six-round unanimous decision over Henry Beckford. All three judges scored the contest 60-54.
SHOWTIME Press Release: BROOKLYN (November 22, 2016) – In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, super middleweight world champions Badou Jack and James DeGale, plus junior lightweight world champion Jose Pedraza and unbeaten challenger Gervonta Davis, donated and distributed Thanksgiving meals at the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger in Brooklyn before their press conference last Wednesday to discuss their respective January 14 showdowns taking place at Barclays Center and live on SHOWTIME.
The fighters handed out 100 turkeys along with other Thanksgiving foods to help aid the organization that has provided millions of meals for people in the area. Hailing from countries all around the world, the fighters got together to give back in the borough that they will be competing in come January.
To learn more about the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger visit www.bedstuyagainsthunger.org. Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Mayweather Promotions and DiBella Entertainment, start at $25. Tickets are available now and can be purchased online by visiting www.ticketmaster.com, www.barclayscenter.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Tickets are also available at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center.