The rematch boxing fans were clamoring for came and delivered far more controversy than the previous fight between Andre Ward and Sergei Kovalev that took place last November. Coming into the fight the 33-year-old Ward was the defending WBA, WBO, and IBF World Light Heavyweight champion and actually surprised many early on with the higher volume of attack against his larger target. Despite the volume, the consensus was that Kovalev had a slight lead in the scorecards due to landing the harder shots along with his constant pressure. The fight was an exciting chess match, but that’s been forgotten by many due to the multiple low blows landed by Ward, which went unpunished, after stunning the “Krusher” with a staggering right hand moments earlier in round 8 as well as the questionable stoppage soon afterwards.
Now, what was supposed to be a boxing classic with the intention of erasing any doubt produced from the first bout is yet another strange tale in boxing history. With the stakes as high as they were, fans are outraged at how referee Tony Weeks allowed Ward to get away with illegal tactics when they were as clear as day to everybody tuned in. Ward landed at least four low blows and while an argument can be made that Kovalev was on his way out in the 8th round as he was legs wobbled and his pace began to decline, fans are still astounded by the lack of closure in spite of the record books reading that Ward was the victor via 8th round TKO.
It seems as if the sport of boxing is struggling to have it both ways. When Ward and Kovalev were initially booked to square off last November, the consensus was that we were witnessing two of the best pound-for-pound and undefeated champion caliber competitors were set to face off, but the judges and now the veteran official managed to steal the show away from two future boxing hall of famers. While last night painted a picture of Ward being the clear superior against Kovalev in the later rounds, fans were robbed of viewing how Kovalev would respond to being up against a wall and being on the defensive. Weeks seemed to doubt the Krusher’s heart since he quickly waved the fight off before issuing the usual 8-count before stepping in to call the fight. The low blows certainly didn’t help as history has showed us how much damage one low blow can do, try four or maybe even five.
Ward may be the undisputed champion at light heavyweight, but his legacy will include a blip from this point forward and seeing as the likelihood of a third bout between both men is slim to none, I guess we are left to wonder what if. Oddly enough it was Kovalev who appeared to be at a disadvantage in both bouts against Ward when many expected the opposite. Kovalev didn’t just sign a bout to face one of the best in the current era, he was put up against the judges and the referee as well. For Kovalev, Andre Ward will forever be viewed as his nemesis who not only ended his undefeated winning streak, but also as the man who made the former champion appear human. The aura Kovalev once carried is now officially gone and can never be recaptured again. Ward on the other hand is talking the potential of moving up further in weight, but like all the greats, he will eventually fall. Let’s just hope his opponent doesn’t use any illegal tactics to help get the job done.