Kovalev vs. Ward—Trial and Error
Andre was so elated with the win that he actually answered a question first and saved his praise of his respective deity until later…
In an alternate universe and on an alternate playing field, American boxing fans would feel jilted that they were made to interrupt their Saturday afternoon to watch a championship fight taking place on foreign soil. A bout which aired somewhere between two and three in the midday hour would be bad enough, as we’re so accustomed to prepping ourselves for fight night. We get out the invites, clean the house if need be and decide whether to supply the suds and pizza or ask our guests to chip in to some degree.
Lastly, once the title fight between an unbeaten American gold medalist and an undefeated Russian wrecking machine was completed, we’d be sure that the Yankee hero would get the nod because he was able to rise from the canvas after an early knockdown and show enough courage and resolve to push through the finish and snare the win. Alas, many of us would cry foul when the hometown fighter celebrated a close, unanimous decision victory in front of a delirious crowd at the MegaSport Arena in Moscow.
Wipe the hypothetical lenses clean and instead, we get what we witnessed on Saturday evening in Las Vegas. In all likelihood, millions of fans all throughout Eastern Europe were upset, if not incensed with the decision win handed to Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KO’s) after his epic battle with Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KO’s) reached its conclusion. Each man seemed out of sorts when he was interviewed by Max Kellerman in the ring after the hair slicing, 114-113 unanimous decision win was in the books. Andre was so elated with the win that he actually answered a question first and saved his praise of his respective deity until later. Likewise, we were treated the most clear and concise rendition of Kovalev’s grasp of English when the mic was placed in front of him.
Matters seemed difficult enough in the weeks and days leading up to the contest. If the best actually fought the best this often, then there’d many a boxing pundit out of a job and without an opinion to cough out. The names on the marquee weren’t new, yet the hype wasn’t at a level which it rightly deserved. This the absolute best, as opposed to the most popular or disliked facing off in a pound-for-pound type of contest, yet it did little to peak interest.
It seemed much like an episode of the Simpsons which aired in 1998. The Bi-Monthly Science Fiction Convention (or Bi-Mon Sci-Fi Con, as it was advertised) took place in Springfield. All of the kids in attendance didn’t seem to be interested in the autograph tables of anyone save for their favorite “SciFi” movie star. World famous astronaut Neil Armstrong had a table of his own and his publicist went so far as to exclaim to the children, “this man has actually been into outer space.” They didn’t care. Much seemed to be the same here. The buzz wasn’t there. We could’ve said to fight fans, “but guys, these two fighters are the cream of the crop. You don’t often get a match-up like this.” Who knows if that would have helped?
As far as the contest itself, well, that’s just the way it goes. Andre Ward was floored in the second round but of course, he made it back to his feet with a smile. Kovalev didn’t finish him and perhaps didn’t pummel him to the degree which some expected. The judges may have stopped watching the overall activity and paid more attention to the fact that “S.O.G.” Ward weathered the storm and wasn’t going to budge. Many might be inclined to say that Sergey won, but just barely. Some could feel that he didn’t take the proverbial bull by the horns and let his fists do the talking. Yes, despite the knockdown and higher output in his favor, Ward was still standing there.
Shockingly and for all of his accomplishments, Andre Ward had never fought in Las Vegas prior to tonight. He astounded the boxing world when he won the “Super Six” super middleweight tournament five years ago. The setup was great. Participants fought the next man up and not the best contract presented. That was then and of course, this is now. Rematch, anyone? It’s a drag that Sergey Kovalev didn’t win by a close decision so he could demand a rematch in Russia as a change of pace. The fight was great. The decision? That all depends on who is asked.