Self-styled boxing historians have a lot in common and one thing that especially stands out is their disdain for anything modern or current. In fact, mention of today’s heavyweights inspires such outbursts as “robots,” “whales,” and so on. Another tendency is the custom of some to view history through the prism of flowery nostalgia—not to mention a review of newspaper decisions that is more guesswork than analysis. And most annoying of all, they write as if they were ducking the sweat and blood at ringside for Jack Johnson’s fights.
They even give lower weight fighters short shrift. Mention of “Chocolatito” is met with the names of Raul (Raton) Macias, Jose (Toluco) Lopez, Ricardo (Pajarito) Moreno, Jose Becerra, Jose Medel, Jesus Pimentel, Jesus (Chucho) Castillo, Rafael Herrera, Rodolfo Martinez, Romeo Anaya, Alfonso Zamora and Lupe Pintor.
“Canelo” at middleweight is scoffed at and they assert that “GGG” needs to step up before he gets more praise. Even Floyd Mayweather Jr. is characterized as a cherry-picker without acknowledging that Floyd arguably created a new business model for boxers to follow; namely, get the most bangs for your buck.
In short, the mantra for many self-styled historians (but clearly not all), is that boxing is essentially dead. However, when you get two light heavyweights in the ring like Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward, any criticism should be dismissed out of hand.
Ward (30-0) hasn’t lost since he was 12 years old. He possesses superb technical skills and the ability to tie up and frustrate his opponents and then hammer them with elbows and even butts while in the clinch. He is border-line dirty—some might call it roughhousing– and that adds another dimension to his already lethal arsenal. Finally, his methodical victories in the Super Six gave him all the credentials he needs to be a future Hall of Famer. The unbeaten American is challenging light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on November 19.
Kovalev (30-0-1) is as powerful as his nickname “Krusher” suggests. He is a unified light heavyweight world champion, having held the WBA and IBF titles since 2014, and the WBO title since 2013. His 84% KO percentage is self-explanatory and he can end a fight at any time, including the last minute of the last round. He has defended his title nine times, reflecting his divisional dominance, and his ability to close once he has his opponent stunned brings to mind the savage closing ability of Sugar Ray Leonard.
This will be Ward’s fourth fight since an 18-month hiatus. “My time off,” says Ward, didn’t take a toll on me mentally or physically. I don’t poison my body, I don’t drink, smoke or party, so I never worked against myself. Even in my time off, I remained truly dedicated to the sport. I still spent hours upon hours in the gym, even when I didn’t know when I would fight again. That benefited me because when it was time to get back in the ring, there was no rust. I picked up right where I left off….I’ve been boxing for 20-plus years. That’s a grind. Breaks like that can really benefit a veteran fighter like me because it afforded me the chance to recharge both mentally and physically.”
Says Kovalev: “If I knock him out it would be great because boxing fans would be very happy, and me too, but I am training for a 12 round fight….because anything can happen in boxing. If I cannot knock him out then I must be prepared to go 12 rounds with him. He is very good defensive fighter, and difficult to hit….”
To his credit, the Russian bomber has not been drawn into any pre-fight mind games with Ward. “I just saw a couple of fights, him against Sullivan Barrera and Alexander Brand, but what was before I don’t know, I didn’t check.”
Ward retorts “I want to take him places he’s never been before,” And with tongue in cheek, he says, “I don’t like bullies, I don’t advocate bullying and I’ve never been bullied, and that’s not going to change in this fight.”
Thus far, there has been minimal trash talking, just old school-style mutual respect. No serious boxing fan should have anything but great anticipation for a colossus of a fight–one evidencing that boxing is healthy, alive and well despite whining to the contrary.
This fight is THE BIG ONE. It just doesn’t’ get any better with a big puncher vs. a skilled technician. Two undefeated records are on the line. Three championship belts are at stake.
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Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and holds several records. He enjoys writing about boxing and is a member of Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame.