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.