Author: joed5k

What Is Next For Gennady Golovkin?

As expected, Gennady Golovkin (38-0-1) blitzed through Vanes Martirosyan on a Saturday night HBO card.  The only question was when the knockout would come as while Vanes was a talented amateur, he has been nestled between journeyman and challenger for his career….oh yeah and he never fought at middleweight while being inactive for two years.

Of course we would be discussing the rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Triple G in a normal world.  But after Canelo tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol (in which a hair follicle sample gave indication that the ingestion came from tainted meat), the Nevada state commission suspended Alvarez for six months.  With only three or so weeks to find an opponent, Team Golovkin settled on Martirosyan though challengers such as Demetrius Andrade and mandatory challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko offered to step in on short notice.

First, no one can blame Vanes for taking the fight.  He has to make a living and you know, he landed a solid combo on Golovkin early in Round 1 that actually made me award him the opening stanza.  He got knocked out for the first time in his career (he has fought Jermell Charlo and Andrade before but went the distance) after Golovkin demonstrated a dazzling, and brutal, combination that ended the bout easily.  I’d argue that besides the bodyshot knockout of Matthew Macklin, it was Golovkin’s most “highlight reel” KO in his HBO career.

Second, I am a Golovkin fanboy but I really can’t fully blame Tom Loeffler and Golovkin for not picking Andrade (who has been more inactive than active as of late) nor Derevyanchenko (whose stellar amateur pedigree and 12-0 beginning indicates he will be a player in this division now, not later).  Sadly its a business but I do hope both fighters get a crack at Triple G within the next two years.

However we cannot be hypocrites either.  How would we all feel if Keith Thurman and Errol Spence Jr. were to fight but with a month to go, Thurman got hurt and was replaced with Ricky Burns or Julius Indongo?

But still, Golovkin is finally in the place he wants to be…but maybe two years too late.  It is no secret that he has significantly upped his competition over the three fights beforehand (we can’t forget that Kell Brook, at the time, was a well-regarded welterweight with two intact eye sockets) and looked a lot more mortal than the thunderstorm that eviscerated the likes of Macklin, Curtis Stevens, David Lemieux and Martin Murray.  He is not the boogeyman but the prize.  Golovkin’s draw against Alvarez was controversial but significantly boosted his profile as not just a boxing cult figure but a fringe star.

But let’s face it….the rematch with Alvarez is too lucrative to not pursue.  Let’s still weight the options.

CURRENT LEGACY & FINANCIAL WINDFALL MATCH: CANELO ALVAREZ

Regardless of the clenbuterol, Canelo is the biggest star in boxing.  He is basically a guaranteed pay-per-view match and is an elite fighter that draws eyes upon every fight.  He’s a paycheck with a legacy boosting stature.

What makes everything better is that the bad blood from the draw and the positive tests will create more intrigue.  The public and media thought Golovkin edged the first fight but Alvarez made it close (I had it a draw) and Triple G is another year older.  This should actually sell better now that there is more than just a “who is the best” storyline.

Also if Golovkin wins?  He beats the number one star in the sport (though Anthony Joshua might have a claim to that shortly) and has the marquee win on a resume that could use one.

UNDISPUTED: BILLY JOE SAUNDERS

Golovkin has told us numerous times that his one goal was always unification and a fight against Billy Joe Saunders would provide him just that.  Saunders, of Britain, is a bit of a troll (cut from a very similar cloth of Tyson Fury) but after a ugly win over Artur Akavov and a boring win over Willie Monroe Jr., Saunders put on a clinic against the powerful but limited David Lemieux.

Saunders and promoter Frank Warren seem to now want the fight, after admitting to not wanting it previously, and Saunders does have a voluntary defense against the veteran Martin Murray (who apparently is guaranteed a title shot every 18 months) on June 23rd.  After that though?  The slick Saunders at his best can make a lot of fighters look lost (see the opening six rounds against Andy Lee) though his consistency and stamina can leave a bit to be desired.

If Golovkin wants to unify, this might be his last chance.

THE MANDATORY: SERGIY DEREVYANCHENKO

It is easy to feel the need to compare Golovkin to the Ukrainian standout Sergiy Derevyanchenko.  They both had stellar amateur backgrounds, have risen quickly through the middleweight rankings and Derevyanchenko might just find himself avoided for quite a bit.

At 32, Derevyanchenko is still in his prime but more importantly he is the IBF mandatory for Golovkin.  Derevyanchenko and promotor Lou DiBella fought hard to replace Alvarez when the latter dropped out, and the IBF could have stripped Golovkin for refusing to fight, but gave him an exemption on the condition that the Ukrainian and Kazakh stars fight in early August.

Derevyanchenko is a bit of an unknown but his dismantling of veteran Tureano Johnson was impressive and he showed a high work rate with a keen dedication to breaking down the body.  He will be a problem for anyone he fights and is ready for a big fight.  He might not bring the most economic value but looks to be the future boogeyman of a division that is heating up.

FUTURE LEGACY: JERMALL CHARLO

His Twitter handle is @FutureofBoxing but Jermall Charlo is beginning to look like part of the present.  After moving up from 154 pounds, Charlo has gotten quite comfortable at middleweight and is in position as Golovkin’s WBC mandatory.  There are some network related issues that could halt this bout, which would be a shame but Charlo does seem to want the fight after an emphatic knockout over Hugo Centeno Jr.

Charlo is a brash American, with a mean streak in the ring and a constant chip on his shoulder.  He’s got a tremendous jab and reach, and has shown some tenacious power.  Now, he’s only two fights deep at middleweight and doesn’t seem to be next in line.

My boldest boxing prediction is that one of the Charlos (Jermall’s twin brother Jermell fights at 154) will face off against Errol Spence Jr. in the next pound-for-pound superfight.  Spence Jr is only at 147 but will certainly rise in future years and I can see the Charlos being very comfortable at their weight class.

Jermall might be the torchbearer at 160 in the not-too-distant future (alongside Derevyanchenko) and has the personality to carry pay-per-view headliners.  If Golovkin wants to ensure his legacy lasts in future years, the Charlo fight would be a perfect bout between the present and the future.

The only other person I’d like to see Charlo fight, besides Golovkin, is Danny Jacobs in what would certainly be a showdown between the best two American middleweights.

THE VENN DIAGRAM OPTION: RYOTA MURATA

Boxing can be bullshit and corrupt, as we all know.  Sometimes we do not get what we want and are forced to settle for something a bit lesser, than try to get excited about our fifth preference because the sixth one looks worse.

Insert Ryota Murata, the talented Japanese fighter who serves as Golovkin’s WBA mandatory.  Murata has one blemish on his record, but it might be one of the most criminal ones in recent memory, and does serve as one of the more lucrative options given his starpower in Japan.  He satisfies a mandatory, does have a future in the division but is perhaps the most beatable of these options.  A fight against Murata would be uninspiring, not because its a bad fight necessarily, but just would be a mini-letdown with all these more tantalizing options.

OTHERS:

Most feel that Danny Jacobs was the fighter who put up the toughest fight against Golovkin though Jacobs hasn’t exactly been inspiring in fights against Luis Arias and Maciej Sulecki.  Jacobs probably deserves a rematch but might get squeezed out, though a win against any of the listed above would easily put him in the top of the order.

Gilberto Ramirez has been vouching for a Golovkin fight for a bit, and that could give Golovkin his first chance at a belt in another division (“Zurdo”, as he is known as, fights at 168).  Ramirez has really not fought anyone since winning the WBO belt and just scraped by Philadelphia’s Jesse Hart in a fight that should be run back.

Chris Eubank Jr. is rumored to be replacing George Groves in the WBSS finals against Callum Smith, which is just some bullshit, but if he wins that fight…he would have a belt and is beatable, brash, and recognizable enough to potentially bring home a nice payday.

 

Advertisements

Heavyweight Might Be Flawed But Intrigue Runs High

Wow.

Even twenty four hours after their fight, I am still on a high following the heavyweight showdown between Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz.  The fight had everything from a slow start to pendulum swings of momentum and finally a stoppage as Wilder blasted Ortiz with a dynamite-infused uppercut in the tenth round.

Truthfully, I will get this as a matter of public record.  I expected this to be not that steep of a challenge.  I knew Wilder was always game to fight the best (remember Alexander Povetkin and the first scheduling of the Ortiz fight?) but I had suspicions.  Why would Wilder face a non-mandatory boxer who is considered to be the “most feared” fighter in the division for less pay than other winnable fights could entail?

I am not suggesting it was going to be a fraud, but I figured this would be similar to the Gerald Washington fight.  Ortiz would look his age and while starting off conservative, Wilder would eventually tee off and end it.  I figured Ortiz, who has been twice linked to performance-enhancing drugs though cleared, would just be someone who is cashing in.

Early on, I knew I was wrong.  After a slow beginning that drew boos (by the way, never boo a heavyweight with two huge punchers after only three rounds) I realized how wrong I was.  Ortiz was jabbing Wilder and landing decent combinations (though nothing really flush) and while Wilder was tentative early, he landed a right hand that while partially blocked disoriented Ortiz who was saved by the bell in round 5.

Then it started to mimic last year’s heavyweight fight of the year between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko.  The younger fighter was exuberant and on the cusp of a career-defining win.  But suddenly, the downed older fighter found a loophole.  Wilder was caught clean by multiple punches by “King Kong” and might have been just ten seconds away from being TKO’d himself.  The following round looked more of the same as a seemingly gassed Wilder was just circling to breathe.

Deontay Wilder proved that he had not just resiliency, heart and determination but he was a true champion.  Flawed as his technique can be, he has power and now you cannot deny he has what makes a fighter a champion.  Whatever superlative you want to toss out, Wilder proved himself as he ended the fight while knocking down Ortiz twice in the 10th.

The heavyweight division has a true marquee matchup.  At first, it felt like Joshua-Wilder should happen just because they were the only relevant names.  Now, you get that feeling that this is not just a big fight but a super one.  As much as their strengths make the fight interesting (those being Joshua’s cleaner combinations mixed with power against Wilder’s athleticism and insane straight right), their perceived weaknesses (Joshua’s stamina and Wilder’s technique) might make it even more thrilling.

I must admit that Joshua has to get by Joseph Parker at month’s end but if he wins, as he is expected, this will also be a full unification fight.  All belts would be on the line.  Parker is not on the same level but still probably would be Joshua’s second best win.  In fact, Joshua-Wilder probably will have a sequel given the current state of the division that is awaiting the arrivals of Daniel Dubois and Filip Hrgovic, amongst others.

Joshua vs. Klitschko was the most important heavyweight bout since Lennox Lewis defeated the elder Klitschko, Vitali.  But both of those fights were missing the hype and the “who ya got” that Joshua-Wilder can provide.  Vitali was a late replacement and most observers felt that Wladimir was just too far past his prime for one more showcase.

But you can’t also forget the specter of Tyson Fury, who much like the former Revel Casino in Atlantic City, looms large and had a very short stay at the top before promises of activity have fallen by the wayside.  A Fury fight would be bigger with Joshua but just having a third heavyweight at the table would go a long way in a division that has been devoid of anyone not named Klitschko in the past fifteen years.

Let’s hope smarter heads prevail and we don’t have to wait any longer for the match the public and the world deserves.

Follow me on Twitter @TheJoekes

Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin – How It Can Go Down

It is fight week.

For the past two years, the boxing world has been waiting for the showdown between Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Kazakhstan’s own Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin.  It is a true pick’em superfight that should be one of a few crossover events that the casual sports fan should check out.  But unlike the previous spectacles with Canelo vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor; this one is a true 50/50 fight that promises action.

While the Mayweather-McGregor spectacle swallowed up a lot of oxygen in the sports world, this fight has still garnered a lot of hype.  It is not quite on that level in terms of mainstream appeal but it is not a match reserved for just boxing enthusiasts.  You can find plenty of amazing previews that really analyzes both athletes but that’s not what what I want to do.

Let’s take a look at how the fight could break down.

Gennady Golovkin by TKO 

Most observers are of the belief that if Golovkin is going to win, its likely to come by a technical knockout in the later rounds.

Golovkin is the definition of a come-forward boxer.  When I think of Golovkin’s pressure, I often think of this knockdown against the defensive-orientated Willie Monroe Jr.  Now, Monroe Jr. is not a hard-hitter nor is he anywhere near the level that Canelo is on but it offers a fairly clear indicator on what to expect with Golovkin.

Notice how he essentially throws a couple jabs but is forcing Monroe into the corner.  Cutting off the ring is one of Golovkin’s main strengths, a trait picked up through his lengthy and successful amateur career that includes an Olympic Silver medal, and you can see it perfectly there.  He lets Monroe essentially punch HIMSELF into the corner while Golovkin patiently waits to strike, then lands a flush left hook on Monroe’s chin.

It should be noted that Golovkin has great power but its not usually seen as the one-punch variety but as a thudding beatdown.  With respect to Nobuhiru Ishida and Matthew Macklin, you don’t tend to see one punch end a Golovkin fight.

Golovkin operates behind a ramrod jab that can be described as one of the best in the fight game.  No better example exists than Golovkin’s maiden pay-per-view match against David Lemieux in a unification battle.  Lemieux is a powerful, but limited, brawler who was essentially force-fed a diet of jabs before Golovkin unloaded the heavy artillery.  When Golovkin lands his jab, and he is more likely to do so than not, it makes an impact.

If Golovkin is going to end Canelo’s night early, it should be assumed that he will do a blend of both strengths.  He will look to trap Canelo, utilize his jab, and dictate the tempo of the exchanges.

Canelo By Decision

While Golovkin has strength, his resume is really not that strong.  Yes, he was ducked and that should be stated.  However, it is hard to say he is one of the best of all-time when his best wins are a close decision against the capable Danny Jacobs, a blown-up Kell Brook (a welterweight who moved up to 160 to face GGG) and Lemieux.

Canelo has faced some of the best of his generation’s best.  While he did lose to Floyd Mayweather Jr., he did defeat the elusive Erislandy Lara and the rugged Miguel Cotto.

The Cotto fight in particular is one I want to highlight in why Canelo can win this by decision.  The Freddie Roach trained Cotto might be a few years past his prime, but it is hard to envision many 154 pounders who would have defeated him on that December 2015 night.

Take a look at Canelo’s defense.  Yes, this is a highlight reel that is designed to show the best of Canelo but Cotto was just never able to land much clean on Canelo.  While there appeared to be a size difference, Cotto’s handspeed was no much for Canelo’s elite upper body movement.  Canelo’s anticipation was on display and it almost looked like the Mayweather-Canelo fight but with Canelo as the matador.

Another huge weapon in Canelo’s weaponry is his body work.  If you need a refresher on how good it can look, let’s go back to his fight against Liam Smith.  Much like Monroe, we do need a small disclaimer on Smith.  Liam Smith is a perfectly fine boxer who is probably just above domestic level but far below the elites.

This exchange can be a bit of a preview on what to expect from Canelo.  Canelo eats a solid punch by Smith and then proceeds to walk him down with an array of uppercuts and body work.  The next round, another combination puts Smith down and the fight is eventually ended on a brutal shot on the liver.

Again Liam Smith is not Gennady Golovkin but he’s a perfect portrait for Canelo to paint his brutality on.  When Smith tried to go inside, he had nominal success but he would eat heavy fire in return.

A Canelo win by decision would mean that he landed those shots while avoiding the blows that have ended numerous Golovkin foes.

Canelo by TKO/KO

Golovkin has never been knocked down nor seriously wounded.  While Curtis Stevens and Jacobs both caught Golovkin clean with some flush shots, Golovkin merely nodded and walked right through.

But let us not forget the Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev rematch that took place in June.  Ward, a strong but not necessarily powerful fighter, was able to land a beautiful shot on Kovalev’s chin after focusing on the body.

Golovkin has faced power before, but a lot of those fighters lacked the dedication to the body and precision that Canelo has shown.  Golovkin can shell into a high guard and that could be a recipe for a beautiful uppercut.  Now imagine that after some shots above the beltline?

Golovkin by Decision

Golovkin, in nearly the past ten years, has gone to the scorecards once and that was in his last fight against Danny Jacobs.  Golovkin has shown the ability to dominate a fight but we have yet to see it from Rounds 1 through 12 because frankly, he’s never needed that until March 2017.

If Golovkin wins by decision, it would likely look similar to the Lemieux fight without the power punches.  Golovkin by jabfest likely wins any scorecard.

Draw

Guaranteed rematch which would be fun right?

Prediction

Disclaimer: I am a huge fan of Gennady Golovkin.  So I will always pick him.  But I am more than willing to accept that Canelo is still improving and has somehow elevated his game even more since he won the Cotto fight.

It is not impossible to see a similar, if not comparative, performance of that between Terence Crawford and Viktor Postol.  Postol won the first round or two as Crawford sized him up and essentially took control of the fight from Rounds 3 onward.  Canelo isn’t always the fastest starter so is it possible that could occur again?

Whatever it is, please watch this fight.  This is something that could be a legendary sports moment and you would be remiss the avoid this.
My Twitter Account

Terence Crawford & Witnessing History

One of the best things about being a fan of a particular sport is looking back at the historical moments you have seen.  The ones that you know you will see replays and hear discussions about for the years to come.

As a boxing fan, given the health of the sport, it takes a while to find those really big events as they need to “marinate”.  There’s promotional feuds, channel disputes and pay disagreements that can hold the biggest fights from occurring and that doesn’t include the fact that some fighters are advised not to take a risk to maximize the profits down the road.  The fight game is more than just the fight itself but how to get the most money out of fighters themselves.

Owning a belt does not mean the same as it once did.  There’s four major belts and then there’s a multitude of “lesser” belts that mostly signify “not the champion but the next guy”.  So when you hear of title unification fights, you aren’t necessarily always seeing the “best vs. the best” but rather the “best” getting another belt or someone auctioning off their collateral for a cash out.

In a sport that prides itself on concussive blows that lead to potential despair, I don’t blame anyone.  As someone who has never been in a ring before it seems pretty hilarious that I will call a person willing to put their life on the line, for entertainment purposes, “a coward”.  Even those who postpone fights, do not earn that distinction.

Still, it does get tiring.

This past Saturday, however, we got to witness history.  We got to see a true unification fight, for all the belts, on ESPN.  Terence Crawford has owned the 140 pound division for quite a while.  That should’ve never been in doubt, but the fact that Julius Indongo owned two other belts added at least some intrigue in a division with a King.

Indongo, who in the run-up to the fight has only displayed likable and hard-working tendencies, deserved this shot.  He knocked out Eduard Troyanovsky (who, admittedly, I thought could at least possess some challenge to “Bud” Crawford) on his home turf and catapulted from “title contender” to owner.  A mostly one-sided domination of the limited but tough Ricky Burns in his backyard added to the rapid rise of Indongo.

Yet, it just felt inevitable didn’t it?  Maybe I didn’t think it would happen so quick, and I surely didn’t, but I almost had no doubt that Crawford would knock out Indongo in a similar way that he did against lesser heralded opponents in John Molina Jr. and Hank Lundy.

The main takeaways should be that Crawford is a historically brilliant fighter, and certainly at least in recent history.  The second takeaway should be, that we cannot process Crawford’s domination at 140.  Yes I know that Viktor Postol, Felix Diaz, Indongo, Burns and Ray Beltran have various flaws in their game.  But never did all those flaws seem obvious until after the fight.

Diaz turned from Olympic medalist to looking like Ruslan Provodnikov without arms.  Postol went from battering a wounded Lucas Matthyse to a tentative and sterile challenger.  Indongo, whose wide shots always leaves room to be dissected, has legitimate power but it was nowhere to be seen.  Let’s not forget the night Crawford might’ve ruined Yuriorkis Gamboa for good.

Owning all the belts, even in a watered-down world, is still a sign of greatness.  It is easy to demean the opponents but when a fighter doesn’t even make worthy challengers look like they belong on the same planet….well, we have something better than great.

There is a fight with Mikey Garcia that could be fascinating but even though Garcia is a great fighter, it just doesn’t seem worth it.  Let’s not forget the intrigue that would be Terence Crawford moving to welterweight, which should only add another wrinkle to one of the best divisions in the sport.

But let the future be the future.  Let’s enjoy the fact that our present will soon become an incredible moment in our sport’s past.

What To Make Of Manny Pacquiao?

Well, boxing fans should know by now that we aren’t allowed fun headlines.  The hype and excitement of Manny Pacquiao fighting on free TV (and on ESPN nonetheless) was one that got attention in the world of a casual sports fan.

Australian Jeff Horn, a probably just above domestic-level opponent but far below a likely contender, was set to be a perfect showcase opponent for Pacquiao.  He’s legitimate enough to be sanctioned (don’t listen to Stephen A. Smith, Horn’s defeats over Ali Funeka and Randall Bailey, while not Keith Thurman or Errol Spence Jr. level, aren’t some guys you’ll find in a local gym) and he had a come-forward approach that would guarantee fireworks.  In a stadium of up to 55,000 person capacity and on a worldwide television audience, the time was ripe to showcase boxing to a new level.

Well, we know that the judges saw things differently and gave Horn a laughable unanimous decision.  While Horn was active, and did some decent things in the ring (aka he threw punches and survived when not throwing), mostly everyone knew that Pacquiao was the winner.

So let’s get that out of the way.  Pacquiao should’ve won the fight and Horn was better than the bum he was seemingly portrayed as by ESPN.  Those are the only two takeaways that really should matter.

But let’s talk about Pacquiao shall we?  Since his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the “Fight of the Century”, Pacman has been on a bit of a journey.  He had the rotator cuff injury heard ’round the world, an impressive win against Timothy Bradley Jr. in an unneeded trilogy, a brief retirement, was elected a Senator in his native Philippines, a come back to beat beltholder Jesse Vargas, and a robbery at the hands of the judges against Jeff Horn.

Before the loss to Horn, I was actually a believer in ranking Pacquiao as a top-10 pound-for-pound fighter.  His legacy and resume are of course elite, but I also thought that comfortably beating top-10 welterweights in back-to-back fights more than warranted an argument.  Was he the “whirling dervish” or the “tornado of fists” that we once saw?  No, but he was a more controlled fighter who fought in bursts.

However, during the “Battle of Brisbane” as it was called; Pacquiao just didn’t look right.  Sure, Horn had an awkward style that took a few minutes to get situated against but minus a thunderous 9th round; Pacquiao just didn’t look the same.  The handspeed was still there, but the tenacity and the angles seemed….less than extraordinary.  Horn used his size and some headlocks to disrupt Pacquiao, but nonetheless he should’ve been vanquished.

I know that styles make fights.  But during this particular bout, I did not see one of the top-10 fighters in the world.  I did not see the best welterweight.  Does that mean Pacquiao is completely done and just a shell of a man that should retire?

No.  But after seeing Keith Thurman handle Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia and Errol Spence Jr. blasting out Kell Brook, it is hard to not heavily favor them in hypothetical matchups against Pacquiao.  It is hard to envision the counter-happy Garcia not landing on Pacquiao and neutralizing his offense.  That much discussed “passing of the Top Rank torch” match between Terrance Crawford and Pacquiao?  No way that’s happening or even as fascinating.

Pacquiao will get his shot at Horn again and if he does win, god will we be forced with a trilogy in Pacquiao’s home country?  At this point, I still rate Pacquiao as a very good fighter, but it seems his status as the elite of his weight class are officially in the past.

Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev: Levels of Greatness

Boxing fans might ask for a lot on occasion, but there’s some basic requests we always want to be heard.  We want the best fighting the best, excitement and a decisive end.  We do not want to see inconsistencies and questionable decisions by judges, refs, or even corners that could hamper a job well done.  We don’t want to see a fighter go unrewarded or ripped off.

In last November’s matchup between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev, there was a belief that we witnessed a violation of our hopes.  We saw the best fight the best and we were given excitement.  But in light of Ward’s unanimous decision against Kovalev, there was enough outcry where a rematch was not just required…but also needed.  Fans deserve either closure, or if a trilogy to occur, a chance at it.

Andre Ward isn’t necessarily a defensive mastermind or a brilliant tactician.  He’s not a brute brawler nor is he a pillow-fisted light heavyweight.  He’s not big nor is he small.  But what he is?  A tremendous fighter who swept out the 168-pound division and took on perhaps one of the scariest fighters on the planet….and knocked him out.

I understand the controversy over the “low blows” and the idea that the stoppage might have been too early.  Maybe Tony Weeks could’ve warned Ward, but its kind of hard to hit someone who is literally in the fetal position and eating precise body shots.  Kovalev was gassed, rocked and on the verge of eating more punches in a very precarious situation.

The point of this blog is that while there isn’t a gap that’s as wide as a country mile between the two, the point still remains that Andre Ward is an all-time great fighter while Sergey Kovalev is a great one.  That is not a slight on Kovalev, who potentially was up on the scorecards and might’ve deserved to win the first bout, but what the crowd got to witness was why there are levels to greatness.

Andre Ward seems to be able to thrive off a sixth sense.  He doesn’t manage to slip all the punches at all, but he’s often able to be able to change the angle of a punch before it is landed.  He has a brilliant short right that rocked Kovalev’s world and was the beginning of the end.  Ward was tearing up Kovalev’s body in a manner that made me think that he saw little bullseyes tattooed on Krusher’s obliques.

Kovalev, to his credit, was showcasing a dangerous and fast jab that was able to significantly mark Ward’s face and had shots of his own.  But the stamina was gone and Kovalev still didn’t develop much of an inside game that wasn’t based on trying to put Ward into guillotines.  Kovalev’s power alone could’ve stymied most light heavyweights (and hell some cruiserweights) but, when that was gone….you saw a great fighter who just did not have the arsenal of an all-time great.

As a fight fan, I feel like I found my closure.  Andre Ward would not win 100/100 matches against Kovalev, but he might find a way to win 80/20 against a legitimately strong, heavy-handed puncher who could beat anyone on the planet near his weight class.  It is time to recognize Andre Ward as what he is: the best current boxer on the planet.

Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev II: Preview and Prediction

The boxing world was rocked again this week, with some bullshit fight between a professional boxer who is considered his generation’s best and an amateur.  Riveting.

However, lost in the hubbub of that announcement and just by the general lack of promotion (while also being previously mentioned by me) and seeming apathy is the rematch between light heavyweights Andre Ward (UC’s #1 pound-for-pound) against Sergey Kovalev (#3)  is set to go off.

Now, I decided to re-score the first match in which Ward won by close, controversial and unanimous decision.  In the spirit of transparency, I had the fight scored 115-112 for Kovalev when I watched it live.  Then again, I was in a bar and not 100% of sound mind when going through round by round.  I have reviewed the fight a few more times, and I was pretty confident that Kovalev won, due to the strength of his opening rounds which included a blistering knockdown of Ward in Round 2.

But upon rescoring, I did have Kovalev winning by a 114-113 margin.  The difference being, I gave Round 3 to Ward when I originally had it for Kovalev.  I could also Round 12 going either way in addition to Round 9.  Ward winning was a bit shocking but it is far from the “robbery” some close to the sport seemingly have suggested.

I am captivated by this rematch because, at the risk of sounding like every cliche person who has ever talked about a rivalry, there is really no love lost between the two.  The pre-fight antics of fighters can be amplified, but there seems to be genuine animosity from Kovalev and genuine apathy from Ward.  Kovalev does not like Ward and I don’t think Ward cares.

That does not really ever matter though because this is a boxing match which is dictated by skill, athleticism and some luck not emotion.  Ward wants to prove that his performance from Round 5-to-12 is proof that “he figured Kovalev out” and Kovalev wants to show that it was fatigue that saw his slight fall-off.

To keep things quick, how do I see this fight going?  Kovalev still has thunderous power and it clearly did make an impact on Ward throughout their first bout.  Kovalev isn’t some relentless brute of a brawler, but a menacing boxer that can become impatient.  He’s got a sadistic streak that was seen in his battering of Jean Pascal in their unneeded rematch.

But I think Ward should take this, again by a close decision, but maybe with a bit less controversy.  Ward found that Kovalev was a bit of a head hunter and while, it is not aesthetically pleasing, he was able to slip and connect with a quick jab.  I can see Kovalev being better conditioned, but habits are harder to improve than stamina.

Kovalev has the power to change the game and finish anyone in his weight division.  He’s also long-limbed and can do damage from the outside.

That being said, we are in for a good night of boxing.