Andre Ward repeated a victory over Sergey Kovalev to verify his dominance of the light-heavyweight division on June 17 2017. Here is John Dennen’s ringside report
Ward didn’t see it at first. He stood off, leaving Kovalev teetering on his toes. However then he set about him, hammering the Russian throughout the ring, powering in photographs. He floor Kovalev into the ropes, battering him down, folding him over a hook.
Kovalev was trapped within the ropes, wedged between the strands. He seemed plaintively to the referee, complaining at a low blow however Tony Weeks took that as an indication of misery. He stepped in to wave it off there after which, at 2-29 of the eighth spherical. The sunshine-heavyweight championship of the world was settled. Andre Ward retained the IBF, WBA and WBO titles.
The Russian appeared spent at that time however quickly made his outrage clear. “He didn’t harm me. I obtained drained however I nonetheless might combat,” Sergey mentioned. “He punched me [with] low blows already a couple of occasions through the combat. I don’t have a steel ass.”
He had come into the combat complaining, in regards to the factors choice of their first combat final November, about Ward shirking his promotional tasks and in regards to the allegations the American’s staff had tried to poach his coach, and Kovalev left incensed even additional, fuming at Weeks’ intervention. “Who is aware of who would have gotten the victory if he didn’t cease the combat. I didn’t agree,” he added.
However Ward was within the strategy of ushering him out of the competition. He had Kovalev in a harmful place and, to me, it was extra a query of the referee’s timing of the stoppage, of when the American would end it, relatively than the end result being someway illegitimate.
In a harsher evaluation Ward and his staff thought Kovalev had been on the lookout for a manner out. “He stop. I do know what I possess and I’ve been lucky to indicate a excessive stage of talent in opposition to the very best on the planet,” Andre mentioned. “I believe there needs to be dialogue if there’s some intentional foul, again and again, if I’m making an attempt to get out of bother and I hit him low as a result of I’m harm. However when he’s bending over, you’re going to hit a man on the belt line typically… If you happen to’re going to speak about low blows, let’s discuss in regards to the rabbit punches. I obtained knocked on the facet of my head. Let’s discuss that. We discuss one facet, we’ve obtained to speak in regards to the different.”
Ward’s coach Virgil Hunter can take some vindication. Forward of the combat he mentioned he had been coaching his man for a knockout win, on the time an unlikely prospect. However Ward proved that he might harm “Krusher”.
The Russian had discovered Ward’s mauling clinches irritating, however the American had additionally been more practical on the within, working in near sink in exhausting hooks and uppercuts. There was no denying now that Kovalev had felt the physique photographs. As the primary half of the competition progressed his fingers drifted decrease, resting his gloves on his hips for a second as he sucked in air.
He remonstrated an excessive amount of, bending ahead after a low blow as if to immediate the referee to intervene. He had left himself uncovered earlier within the eighth spherical too, bending over on the waist, making an attempt to spotlight one other low blow however the referee had mentioned nothing. Ward might have taken a free hit at him then however he declined.
“I used to be confused,” Ward mentioned. “After I hit him with a physique shot he tried to behave prefer it was a low blow. It was borderline. I used to be Weeks like ‘Can I’m going? Can I not go?’ I didn’t need to get some extent taken, I didn’t need one thing loopy to occur.”
It was a far cry from the menace with which Kovalev started the combat. He loomed taller than Ward, wanting the stronger man. He superior and launched a lead proper on the physique. Andre obtained off a proper of his personal and tapped in his jab. These photographs didn’t dissuade Kovalev and his ahead march continued.
However crucially Ward started to decide on the bottom the place the battle was fought. Kovalev needed him on the tip of his straight punches. However Ward both manoeuvred nicely clear, circling spherical him or mauled ahead, tying up the more and more agitated Sergey in clinches however, crucially, additionally engaged on the within.
He ducked beneath lots of Kovalev’s rushes and made the Russian miss numerous his punches. Cautious of him of their opening exchanges, particularly as Sergey introduced his heavy jab to bear, Ward started to include these a number of threats. They had been neck and neck after the primary half of the combat (on two of the judges’ playing cards and for my part).
However Ward’s sapping assaults to the physique had been taking their toll. Kovalev was respiration closely. However he jabbed in exhausting. Sergey flung a proper by on the finish of the seventh spherical, however solely after enduring a large left hook swept in to the pinnacle.
“I believe he was just about the identical as the primary time so I knew what he favored to do and what he didn’t love to do. A high quality fighter however I used to be in a position to do some various things tonight,” Ward mentioned.
“I’m not preventing a C-class fighter. I’m preventing a world champion so there’s not rather a lot that separates you in these sort of fights.”
However he added, “I’m used to being uncomfortable. That’s how I practice. I knew he was going downhill spherical by spherical by spherical. I might inform.”
Simply as Ward was starting to nostril forward within the contest he launched that decisive proper cross.
The blow drilled throughout Kovalev’s jaw hurting him like by no means earlier than. That was the second of fact.
From there Sergey unravelled, reeling throughout the ring as Andre swarmed ahead. Kovalev crumpled over, trapped on the ropes. Even with the final punch wayward, he was in a nasty place with nowhere to go. It’s simple to see why the referee, who needed to make his judgement in that wild second, spared him additional punishment.
“He was out on his toes. I confirmed that I might harm a much bigger man,” Ward mentioned. “I did what I needed to do… The ref possibly might have let it go on a bit of longer. However that’s not my fault. That’s not my drawback. I did my job.”
Typically in boxing even a knockout could be disputed. However Ward is certainly the best light-heavyweight on the planet. He’s dominant in his second weight class. After stunning Mikkel Kessler, controlling Carl Froch and taking out Chad Dawson, this win is one other key second in his seek for greatness.
“We appear to maintain flattening giants one after the other,” Ward says. “Can I get on high of the pound for pound listing now? Is it doable?”
I think so.