Paul J Daley: I was hoping for a more definitive outcome than the one we got from Saturday night, instead we are left with the bitter taste of a new wave of controversy courtesy of Mr Tony Weeks.
Andre Ward reminded me of the new kid in school, symbolised by his move to the Light Heavyweight division, whereas waiting at the gate to greet him was this big bad bully Sergey Kovalev.
Yes, Ward could have done the usual, made a name for himself facing less potent class members but instead, he put on his big boy pants, deciding to rise up against the Bully and in this example became the Bully.
The fight up until it’s eighth round stoppage carried on from where we left off, a close fought contest which I had Ward winning marginally.
Never a stickler for the rules, Ward after already being told to keep his shots above the equator of Kovalev’s body, adrenaline already rushing through his veins from seeing a right hand wobble the usually granite exterior of the Russian, he went in search of a shot or in this instance a series of shots that could make for an early night’s work, In his eagerness those shots strayed a little low.
A grimace replaced the steely stare of Kovalev as his cup could do little to protect a man’s most precious cargo before another hit the same spot, dipping the legs of Kovalev before Tony Weeks in his haste immediately waved his hands in an indication of a premature end.
Instantly, I thought that Weeks had called the right decision, sleep deprivation I blame for this initial thought process, but with instant replay at our disposal, it became more painful viewing each time.
I felt at the time as I do on reflection, Weeks should have given Kovalev enough time to regain his composure following the illegal shots, plus after being already warned earlier in the contest, a point deduction should have also been administered to the champion.
It wouldn’t have mattered either way, the outcome would have been a repeat of their first encounter most likely with Ward controlling the action, dictating the pace, gathering momentum as the fight edges nearer the championship rounds, Kovalev on the other hand not for the first time looked drained, disinterested at times, the promise of ending the career of Ward a far cry from the actual performance he offered on the night.
Kovalev’s dreams of facing S.O.G again may have been Krushed (excuse the pun), I would have liked to see a third fight between the two but I feel Dre has proved his point, seeking another challenge at Cruiserweight or possibly even at the heavyweight limit with a lucrative clash with Anthony Joshua mooted, laughable I know but try telling that to Virgil Hunter.
There are many avenues for Ward to now walk, The attractive prospect of him facing WBO Cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk is one which ignites excitement although I would like to also see him face Adonis Stevenson or Arthur Beterbiev.
Kovalev will need to go back to the drawing board, If the belts become vacant on Ward’s exit from the division, he will be the leading candidate to pick up where he left off but knowing he is beatable will become fair game for the opposition, maybe even bringing Adonis to his table.
Umar Ahmed – Can’t argue with the stoppage as it looked like Kovalev had nothing left in the tank, and even if you feel the stoppage was early, he would have probably been stopped in the ninth anyways.
I want to see Ward stay at Light Heavy and fight Stevenson, despite the talk of him moving to heavyweight which seems far fetched to me, as for Kovalev, perhaps enter the World Super Series and finish his career on a high.
Barbara Pinnella – It seemed clear that if the fight went to the scorecards it would be a victory for Andre Ward, so a knockout or stoppage was the only way Sergey Kovalev could get the win. Looking at the scorecards after the fight was stopped in Andre’s favor, it certainly was apparent that we would have had another close one, and that the fight at that moment would have once again swung Ward’s way. Two judges saw the fight 67-66 for Andre, while the third saw the advantage going to Sergey, 68-65.
This fight started out very similar to the first, with Kovalev the aggressor from the beginning, then seeming to run out of steam a bit in the second half of the fight. Andre was picking up his pace as the rounds clocked off. The only major difference was that Sergey was unable to knock Ward down this time.
Some say Kovalev is making all kinds of excuses, crying about the low blows. There are also the complaints that the fight was stopped too soon, and that Sergey was showing pain because of those low blows and not due to body shots.
Ward fans believe that Andre showed he was by far the better boxer this time around, and that Sergey was not in the best of shape and was clearly beaten down in this second match-up.
Andre got the stoppage and the win, but did that really settle anything conclusively? In my opinion, not really. No doubt that Ward can fight, but he is also the master of landing below the belt. Maybe Sergey was actually hurt getting hit south of the border, or maybe he is just a really good actor – don’t know for sure.
The only thing we are certain of at this point that it was Andre Ward who walked out of the Mandalay Bay with his WBA, IBF, and WBO titles still in his possession. Will there be a third fight, and if so, will anyone really care? Again, don’t know, but make no mistake that the two losses that Kovalev suffered at the hands of Ward probably did nothing to enhance his career.
Dean Berks – The big surprise was watching Ward become the puncher whilst Kovalev took to relying on his boxing skills.
Ward’s hook looked solid from the start, the surprise written on Kovalev’s face each time it connected. Likewise, it was odd to see Ward being kept on the end of the Russian’s long jab. I kept envisaging the late, great Eddie Futch employing Ward to carry his right by the side of his jaw, catching Kovalev’s jab in his glove whilst firing his own jab straight down the pipe.
The overall impression, however, was that Ward was breaking Kovalev mentally. Normally used to bullying and overpowering fighters, Kovalev was finding out how it felt to be the shoe on the other foot. When the low/beltline blows were landing, instead of retaliating in a Roberto Duran type of way, he was sounding out to referee Tony Weeks and looking for assistance.
Whilst there is no doubt Ward should have been warned, with a possible deduction, Kovalev seemed to come apart under the pressure, very similar to most punchers who are used to having their own way, think of Tyson vs Holyfield 1 & 2. The right hand that hurt him certainly was the icing on the cake.
Ward impressed me in that he showed the “nastiness” that is sometimes needed, adding spite to go with his smooth style. While many argued with the stoppage, there is no doubt that Kovalev’s spirit was broken and the end was nigh. Ward has certainly earned his plaudits and fights with Stevenson and Beterbiev will hopefully follow.
Richard Lewis: My feelings on this rematch between the Light-Heavyweight divisions best Boxers is one of both confusion and a feeling that Sergey Kovalev is very hard done by.
Going into the 8th round I had Kovalev one round ahead though it was evident that Andre Ward was clearly winning the 8th at the time of the stoppage which would of put it all square.
What has confused me is that of the actions of referee Tony Weeks. He had a good position to see the obvious low blows from Ward but was his judgement clouded by the fact that Kovalev was suffering punishment from Ward during this round and definitely second best, and if so when he dropped to his knees why didn’t he give him a count instead of calling off the fight straight away?
I’d like to see the third fight as for me I don’t see how Andre Ward can claim this win as some kind of moral victory and must know deep down that he got lucky on Saturday night. Yes Kovalev was tiring and maybe Ward would have won them last few rounds or even legitimately stopped him late on, but I can’t help but feel hard done by also that we were denied the opportunity to see that happen. A third and final fight would give us clarity and surely put and end to the rivalry in the correct and proper way.
Steve Haigh: Controversy again concerning officials, this time in referee Tony Weeks but if we look past the illegal shots you can see that Ward was taking over the fight
That does not guarantee he would’ve been 100% victorious but over the course of almost 20 rounds of boxing, we have an answer as to who is the superior fighter in the light heavyweight division.
Ward made the adjustments and laid out the blueprint, You beat Kovalev by breaking him downstairs
Here is the shot which brought the controversy: