Kovalev Deserved The Nod, But He Wasn’t Robbed

KOVALEV-WARD. This past Saturday night boxing was treated to an outstanding tactical bout between the newly crowned light heavyweight champ Andre Ward 31-0 (15) and the former champ Sergey Kovalev 30-1-1 (26). Prior to the bout I stated Kovalev-Ward was a very tough fight to handicap, and for that reason I tried something different. I purposely didn’t write a pre-fight article because I didn’t want to make a pick, although those who know me know who I was leaning towards. The reason I didn’t want to make a pick was because I wanted to watch the fight and remain completely neutral — because it’s human nature, especially in a close bout, to view the action through the eyes of your pick, and I didn’t want to chance that on this particular bout.

For the last decade I’ve written how the only score that counts when judging a fight is the one you tabulated while watching the bout live and in the moment, not knowing the result. Remember, the judges only get one shot. Watching a fight live, not knowing what’s going to happen, along with the crowd noise and anticipation, is a lifetime different than watching it on your computer through YouTube or in your quiet living room after the fact. Every fight looks different watching the replay, knowing who won and how it was scored. So if you didn’t see it live, your score doesn’t carry the weight as those who scored it live and in the moment.

Kovalev-Ward was the most anticipated bout of the year. Based on the controversial decision, the same may hold true for the rematch. All three judges scored the fight 114-113 for Ward, with the deciding factor being that two of the judges gave the 12th round to Ward — a round I saw for Kovalev. I scored the fight 115-114 Kovalev, or 5-5-2 in rounds, with the 2nd round knockdown scored by Kovalev being the difference. It was a very close fight with a few difficult rounds to score. The decision was definitely not a robbery.

Basically, the fight was two different bouts in one. Kovalev had the better of it during the first half, controlling the fight with his jab and straight right hand. Ward finally got a read on Sergey during the last six rounds, scoring with his jab and left-hook, along with some roughhouse in-fighting and body punching. All three judges had Ward winning seven of the 12-rounds they fought, and that’s not what I saw. Moreover, if you take into account Kovalev won the first and 12th rounds without question, Ward had to win seven of the ten rounds between those bookends.  And I don’t think he did. Perhaps he won six if you give him the benefit of any doubt but, I’m sorry, there’s no case for Andre taking seven rounds between the second and the 11th.The best case for Ward is that he won six rounds and Kovalev won six with the 10-8 second round via the knockdown scored by Sergey being the difference.

The fight had many ebbs and flows. Kovalev’s jab and right hand were the difference in the rounds he won. He dropped Ward in the second round with a big right hand and Andre was on high alert for the next few rounds trying to get a read on it. Once Ward realized that the fight may be slipping away he fought with more urgency. He was more effective than most anticipated he would be when he took the lead.

During the middle rounds Ward’s jab and left hook started to become a factor. Andre was terrific in moving his upper body and getting inside to nullify Kovalev, blunting his power. At some points it looked as though Ward was fighting off some accumulated rust as his body punching slowed Kovalev just enough to where he became more confident taking chances down the homestretch. As Ward became less and less concerned about Kovalev’s power, his greater versatility fighting inside and giving Kovalev different looks reduced Kovalev to relying too much on one punch.

Going into the fight everyone knew Ward held the edge in everything with the exception of punching power. But Sergey’s power was a big equalizer, and for the first half of the fight Ward was leery of it, thus allowing Kovalev to control the fight. It wasn’t until Andre sensed he was really behind that he started to impose his will and skill on Kovalev. I just don’t think he quite made up the ground he lost in the early going, in much the same way Bernard Hopkins fell behind Jermain Taylor before he mounted his rally during the last six rounds of their bout.

It was an extremely close fight. Kovalev was unmarked when it was over, whereas Ward’s face was a little marked up and red. Whose style you liked better probably went a long way in how you scored it. As I was watching it, in my mind, I thought Kovalev was doing slightly better than I thought he would and Ward wasn’t doing quite as much as I figured he would. I also think watching it live favors Kovalev, whereas watching the replay favors Ward. And the reason for that is that I think the threat of Kovalev’s power looms as less influential as the fight is unfolding before you.

I think it’s easier to make the case for Kovalev winning than it is for Ward. In order to get Ward ahead and give him the decision, you need to give him practically every swing round. It’s easier to find seven rounds favoring Kovalev than it is Ward. A Kovalev victory by one-point is the right call, but I could live with it ending in a draw and I’m moderately uncomfortable with the actual result, Ward winning by a point. But it must be stated adamantly that the decision wasn’t a robbery like some are insinuating.

Here’s the takeaway: Kovalev earned the nod and should’ve won by a point or kept his title with a draw. But I’d definitely pick Ward to win the rematch.

Ward will be so much more confident now that he’s experienced Kovalev and has a good read on him. Kovalev can’t change stylistically. The only thing he can do in a rematch is attempt to be a little busier. The next time Ward will smother his power more and go to his body earlier. Ward, who fought off a lot of rust Saturday night, has more room to be better than does Kovalev if they were to fight again and that would net a more conclusive victory for him.

The best chance Kovalev had to beat Ward was this past Saturday night. As the record will show forever, he didn’t do it. Just as everything was in his favor on November 19th, 2016, it will be in Ward’s favor if they meet again.

Check out The Boxing Channel for more boxing news on video.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

COMMENTS

-Yogo :

Good sensible copy. One things for certain, its great news for the sport that its polarised opinions and we'll get a rematch ASAP.


-Kid Blast :

"The best chance Kovalev had to beat Ward was this past Saturday night. As the record will show forever, he didn?t do it. Just as everything was in his favor on November 19th, 2016, it will be in Ward?s favor if they meet again." Bingo Frank. Plus the Shistone factor will be more at play next time.


-Yogo :

[video]https://youtu.be/lBss_LqQzlc[/video] Good fan shot footage.


-SouthPawFlo :

I scored the fight Round by Round (As I do all big fights) And I came up with the same score as the judges... From Round 5 it seemed to me Kovalev was gradually slowing and becoming easier to hit, and Andre Ward landed a considerable amount of scoring Body Punching during the second half of the fight... Bring me the Rematch in May


-oubobcat :

I had Kovalev winning 115-112. I did think he did enough to get the decision but it is also not one of those decisions that I feel is highway robbery. A decision that was an all out highway robbery was Hooker-Perez. I feel terrible for Perez as he fought a brilliant fight and took the younger inexperienced Hooker to school. Perez deserves a bigger opportunity from this fight despite the terrible decision and I hope someone gives it to him in 2017.


-teaser :

Yes ...Ward in the rematch ...but did you notice the Krusher starting to go to the body late in the fight ? ...frustration or adaptation?...food for thought


-dino da vinci :

Attended fight. Had Ward (-122). Ov 10.5 (-195) Best I could tell from my vantage point was SK deserved nod. Looking forward to scoring it on a quality monitor. Hope judges did get it right, but my gut tells me otherwise. Love what both fighters bring, particularly like the way SOG carries himself. Owe a big, big thank you to OU Bobcat who put me onto Perez right here in this forum. Split draw returned wager. Poor scoring but we had the correct side. Nevada judging sliding from bad to horrendous. Heartbreaking for the athletes who risk their lives and put so much into what they do.


-Kid Blast :

[CODE][/CODE] Vegas refs are the best but its judges are terrible. Just the opposite in NYC/CT where the refs are not all that good but the judges are top notch. Weisfeld, Shreck, Trella, etc.


-oubobcat :

Attended fight. Had Ward (-122). Ov 10.5 (-195) Best I could tell from my vantage point was SK deserved nod. Looking forward to scoring it on a quality monitor. Hope judges did get it right, but my gut tells me otherwise. Love what both fighters bring, particularly like the way SOG carries himself. Owe a big, big thank you to OU Bobcat who put me onto Perez right here in this forum. Split draw returned wager. Poor scoring but we had the correct side. Nevada judging sliding from bad to horrendous. Heartbreaking for the athletes who risk their lives and put so much into what they do.
Every now and then I get one semi correct.


-oldschool :

I thought it was a poor decision . Saying that Kovalev "wasn't robbed" really isn't saying much, the point being that he did deserve the decision . I will concede that this was a difficult to score but the judges were not up to the challenge. BTW, the verdict in the Hooker fight was another example of lousy scoring . No wonder the UFC is on the rise .


-deepwater2 :

[CODE][/CODE] Vegas refs are the best but its judges are terrible. Just the opposite in NYC/CT where the refs are not all that good but the judges are top notch. Weisfeld, Shreck, Trella, etc.
John Mckaie, from ny, scored it wrong in my opinion. Krusher won. It was easy to see. Ward had some good moments towards the end but he did not beat SK. Bad decision - bad for the sport. Time to focus on improving my golf game for the next few months. Boxing deserves a time out after that poor decision. I'll catch Loma vs Walters Sunday on the couch, but time to stay away from the sport for a bit. SK came to fight and Ward came to survive. SK will gain more fans but boxing lost big time with the outcome. The way boxing is behaving lately I see Ward avoiding the rematch due to injury or some other excuse and taking on the winner of Smith-Hopkins , or taking on short Stevenson. Ward is not number 1 as of now.


-amayseng :

Robbery as Kovalev had his titles and dreams stolen from him. Anyone being fair can see that the clearest rounds to score all went to Kovalev which were 1 2 3 4 6 10. Add the knockdown and Kovalev CLEARLY won the fight without even trying to give him a close swing round or two. Would Ward really do better in a rematch if he doesnt have a favorable ref? Add into the fact Kov adjusted shown by him winning round 10 tells me this fight will always be close w these elite fighters. Tho fact remains Kovalev won that fight.


-Kid Blast :

:D Ward won the electoral vote. Kovalev got the popular vote. :D


-dino da vinci :

:D Ward won the electoral vote. Kovalev got the popular vote. :D
😏 Wish I thought that up


-the Roast :

You can call it whatever you want. Close fight. Robbery. Whatever. We all saw it, we all know Kovalev won. Bad decisions and bad judging are as old as the sport. If Ward agrees to a rematch in six months all is forgiven. We all saw the look on his face when the verdict came in. If he hems and haws or takes another fight than we know what's up. He lost and he knows it. Balls on the table SOG.


-KO Digest :

Kovalev was obviously robbed. Only one (1) judge gave one (1) round to Kovalev from rounds 7 to 12. That's a crime hiding in plain site. Here is what I have: KO's #KovalevWard Bout Breakdown Round By Round Scoring & Analysis Round One: Feeling out process early as both paw with probing punches. Ward taps left jabs to Kovalev's body. A left jab buckles Ward's knees and he reels away to the ropes, hurt from the power early and holding on. When Krusher's hands are moving towards Ward, SOG is moving back away from them and he complains to the African American referee who warns Kovalev for pushing down. A stiff left jab from the defending light heavyweight champion punctuates the opening round and wins it for him, 10-9. Round Two: Ward starts the round looking to box from an outside range. Kovalev presses the action and when it gets rough, Ward grabs. Meaningful left hooks fail to materialize for SOG and he is jabbed back again and put into a state of retreat. With 42 seconds left in the frame, a smashing right to the face from Kovalev puts Ward on all fours, victim of a clean knockdown. He is up immediately and smiling through the mandatory 8 count. Kovalev's killer instinct is nullified by Ward's survivalist holding tactics. Kovalev wins the round 10-8. Things look grim for Ward. Round Three: Ward leads with a left jab, clinch combo to open the third. An SOG lead right misses and Ward follows through with an attempted tackle. The referee warms them both for some reason. Kovalev offered a sportsmanlike glove and SOG let it hang. Ward struggles to avoid the left jab of Kovalev. Ward is clearly uncomfortable under such attack. When Ward stops moving, he ends up in a clinch of his own creation. Another stiff left jab from Kovalev has Ward holding on again with no warning. In a round of jabs, Kovalev's clearly had more of an effect on Ward than vice-versa. Round to Kovalev, 10-9. He's now up 30-26 after three. Round Four: Ward clinches and punches with the left hand. It's becoming clear that Robert Byrd will do nothing to control Ward's repeated fouls. They wrestle in the corner and maul each other equally. Another big left hook from Ward misses. This is usually SOG's best punch. Kovalev is walking Ward back all over the ring. Were Krusher to stop moving forward, there'd be no fight whatsoever. As the round times out, Kovalev lands a left jab and causes Ward to flinch from a right hand feint. It's a tell-tale moment about who is controlling the round when actual contact is limited. Kovalev round 10-9. Round Five: Typical pattern of the fight so far continues with Ward either backing up or dirty clinching in some form or fashion. Kovalev's left jab lands and Ward is disrupted again by it. Ward somehow ends up behind Kovalev and as Krusher spins out to right himself from the awkward position initiated by Ward, SOG punches at Krusher from behind, another foul. At the mid-way point of the round, Ward spears Kovalev with a left jab. They trade hard left jabs with 30 seconds left in the round. Kovalev lands another hard jab just before the bell. If you're an Andre Ward fan, you give him this round. If you're trying to be as fair as humanly possible, it's a close round for Kovalev, 10-9. Round Six: Things get ugly quick after Ward places a few soft body punches. Clinching and mauling persist. Ward cannot fight on even terms with Kovalev in a stand up fight or in heavy punching exchanges. Everyone including Kovalev and the referee seems frustrated with Ward's tendencies. A long right hand bounces off the head of Ward at the half way point in the round. Kovalev seems to have the answer for Ward while SOG looks lost in there at times. A sweeping left hook and right hand to the face from Kovalev keeps Ward moving away from the action. Ward digs a left to the gut at the ten second warning. They fight in a clinch at the bell. Kovalev round 10-9. Round Seven: Hardly a single punch of consequence lands in the first 60 seconds of this round. Ward lands a left jab and the crowd reacts like he just dropped Kovalev, a feat Blake Caparello (but not SOG) was once able to pull off. They again fight in the clinches and Ward lands a right to the body on the way out of one of them. Ward's jab is more accurate in this round. A straight left hand from Kovalev forces Ward to hold on and deny the power of the punch with exaggerated head movements. Ward steals his first round, 10-9. Round Eight: When the "action" consists of so much backing up and holding, it gets hard to stay focused on who is really winning. The first two minutes of this round were squandered by more sloppy boxing than most people can stand to look at. Ward lands a right hand to the body that scores points but certainly doesn't hurt or otherwise deter Kovalev. The champion's reaction is not to clinch or avoid follow-up but to punch and miss for his efforts. Ward makes him pay with another pair of slapping rights to the body. Lefts from Ward stray borderline low and his elbow is in Kovalev's face as the round ends. Ward wins his second stanza in a row, 10-9. Round Nine: When Ward sets and attacks Kovalev, I am reminded of a prime Buddy McGirt but in this case, a less effective version. Buddy never had to deal with a Russian as good as Kovalev. Suddenly a snappy little boxing match breaks out and both are jabbing and moving. Ward lashes out with another good right to the body. Kovalev seems to be giving him the punch though. A hard right Krusher cross has Ward holding on with a minute to go. Ward eats a left along the ropes and a right at the bell. Kovalev round 10-9. Round Ten: Another round for Kovalev. His jab is landing well. Ward responds with a pair of lefts, the hook and the jab. Krusher's jab breaks through Ward's timing, stymies his bolo punch attempt, something I wish Hagler could have done better and more marvelously against that dastardly Ray Leonard. With a minute to go, Kovalev lands a strong right like the one that decked Ward earlier. Ward takes the blow well but finds the jab hard to avoid. It would be impossible to score this round for anyone but Kovalev unless you were a Vegas boxing judge on the take. Kov 10-9 Round Eleven: They wrestle to commence the championship rounds. Ward lands a pair of jabs, up and down. His left hook misses, something few fighters other than Kovalev have been able to consistently make happen in a boxing ring. Kovalev appears tight and disciplined as they trade jabs into jarring right hands that jolt Ward upon impact. By this point, Ward appears unusually battered and bloody. Kovalev looks slightly fatigued with a touch of blood from the left nostril. Ward lands a wide left hook but Kovalev makes him pay by chasing him around the ring with straight punches. A nice jab from Ward snaps Kovalev's head back as the round ends. Krusher round 10-9 Round Twelve: Ward lands a few left hooks early in the last round. Kovalev answers with a left hook of his own before clean punching devolves again into sloppy infighting and clinching. Both go well to the body during this period. Kovalev appears to go low on purpose and gets a warning for it as the fighters exchange more baleful stares than hard legal punches. Round goes to Ward 10-9 for that early success and dedicated body attack late. KO Digest scores the fight 117-110 for winner Sergey Kovalev. Three crooked American judges score is 114-113 Andre Ward.


-Radam G :

:D Ward won the electoral vote. Kovalev got the popular vote. :D
That is a classic. I cannot say that you have jokes because dat was da real real. Life can be so a bad deal. And a bytch! And then we die. Holla!


-Radam G :

A human brain is not always reliable. The three brainwashed judges are not at fault. They did what their brains lied to them about. It is time to bring in robots to do the scoring. Man has built them to not lie yet. They can only speak when unless a malfunction occurs. Holla!


-amayseng :

A human brain is not always reliable. The three brainwashed judges are not at fault. They did what their brains lied to them about. It is time to bring in robots to do the scoring. Man has built them to not lie yet. They can only speak when unless a malfunction occurs. Holla!
Disagree my friend, the fix was in, How Kovalev did not get the 10th round is the proof all that is needed. That was an easy round to score.


-Radam G :

Disagree my friend, the fix was in, How Kovalev did not get the 10th round is the proof all that is needed. That was an easy round to score.
Agreed. And the fix started up in the cranium in that fatty, winkled tissues. Jinggoism is what got the Russian. The Yanks saw him as less of a pug. Holla!


-Shoulder Roll Defense :

People should really stop. It was a close fight that could have went either way. Kovalev got out worked in the second half of the fight tired down the stretch. His right cross was also neutralized. Kovalev illustrated that he has no inside game and was content at clinching and backing Ward up. I can't recall him shooting a uppercut on the inside or ripping very many left and right hooks to the body. In essence, Kovalev's weaknesses were exposed. I find it ironic that many of the same people that feel like Ward lost or the same people that feel Canelo blew out Lara and Trout. Both of the aforementioned fights were very subjective and depended on what the judges favored. Kovalev vs. Ward is no different. Holla!


-Yogo :

People should really stop. It was a close fight that could have went either way. Kovalev got out worked in the second half of the fight tired down the stretch. His right cross was also neutralized. Kovalev illustrated that he has no inside game and was content at clinching and backing Ward up. I can't recall him shooting a uppercut on the inside or ripping very many left and right hooks to the body. In essence, Kovalev's weaknesses were exposed. I find it ironic that many of the same people that feel like Ward lost or the same people that feel Canelo blew out Lara and Trout. Both of the aforementioned fights were very subjective and depended on what the judges favored. Kovalev vs. Ward is no different. Holla!
I had SOG by on a whisker on first viewing, but in my defence I was having to deal with hyper 4 year old. I watched the footage shot from the bleachers on 2nd view and scored it 116-113 to Krusher. I hate scoring rounds even but could have chose 4. Krusher won the fight, the majority ruled on here and were correct. Holla indeed!


-Radam G :

People should really stop. It was a close fight that could have went either way. Kovalev got out worked in the second half of the fight tired down the stretch. His right cross was also neutralized. Kovalev illustrated that he has no inside game and was content at clinching and backing Ward up. I can't recall him shooting a uppercut on the inside or ripping very many left and right hooks to the body. In essence, Kovalev's weaknesses were exposed. I find it ironic that many of the same people that feel like Ward lost or the same people that feel Canelo blew out Lara and Trout. Both of the aforementioned fights were very subjective and depended on what the judges favored. Kovalev vs. Ward is no different. Holla!
Always I do call a spade a spade. In the ending part SOG did get that out work in. But all is in the eyes of the beholder. It was a close one that could go either way, but on the mainland USA, SOG was going to get it. In Russia, Kovalev would have gotten it. Holla!


-KO Digest :

President Trump needs to start Tweeting his fight scores.


-SouthPawFlo :

I think talk of a "robbery" is Non-sense.. I think both sides can legitimately point to 5 Round they can say that clearly won, with two "either way" Rounds. And for all 3 judges, who sat at different spots ringside to see the same thing should tell you that the fight was close and they felt Andre did some good work in the 2nd Half of the fight... But an Immediate rematch is definitely the logical next move


-Radam G :

Okay! I can respect that. Fight II will be the da bomb! Holla!


-dino da vinci :

In boxing, there is a name for a round that can go either way: It's called ... wait for it ... an even round!