By Allan Fox: Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) put on a low blow clinic in stopping former light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) in the 8th round on Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events)
The fight ended prematurely with Ward hurting Kovalev with a right hand to the head. Ward then hit Kovalev with 3 low blows that doubled him over. Referee Tony Weeks then stepped in and instead of giving Kovalev a time out to recover from the low blows, he shockingly stopped the fight. Ward showed great form with his low blows. Those were perfectly thrown low blows. I give Ward an ‘A’ on his punches below the belt. You’ve to feel sorry for Kovalev to have to lose the fight that way. I guess he didn’t realize it was going to be a dirty fight.
Weeks had a bad night. He also failed to see a clear low blow from Ward in the 7th round in which Ward nailed Kovalev with a left hand that was low. When Kovalev doubled over from the low blow, Weeks told him to continue fighting. All total, Weeks missed 4 low blows from Ward in the 7th and 8th rounds. Ward should have had points deducted in the 8th for his 3 low blows. It was sad to see Ward get away with one blow after another. The final insult to injury was when referee Tony Weeks stepped in not to admonish Ward for his 3 low blows, but instead to stop the fight and give Ward a knockout win.
Boxing News 24 had Kovalev ahead 6 rounds to 1 going into the 8th
There was a ton of boos when the fight was stopped. That was surprising because this was a pro-Ward audience, and yet they were booing him. They saw what everyone saw. Ward ended the fight with low blows, and the referee Tony Weeks totally blew the call.
After the fight, Ward said that he’d be interested in moving up to cruiserweight or heavyweight against the right opponent.
In watching the replay of the stoppage, Kovalev said, “Low blow, again, low blow. I don’t know why they stopped the fight. I want to get another fight. I’ll kick his [expletive]. I want to get a rematch again.”
Sadly, Kovalev is unlikely to get a third fight with Ward, just based on the results of tonight’s fight. This was Kovalev’s second loss in a row to Ward, and it doesn’t matter if he was fouled repeatedly by Ward. This is about dollars and cents. The boxing public isn’t going to buy a third fight between Ward and Kovalev. Ward obviously knows that if he stays at light heavyweight, he’s going to have to face someone dangerous like Artur Beterbiev, and that’s a fight that he’d likely lose.
There would also be tons of pressure from boxing fans for Ward to fight WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson. That’s a terrible match-up for Ward, because Stevenson is a huge puncher. Ward would likely be knocked out by Stevenson. If Ward moves up to cruiserweight or heavyweight, he might get a bigger payday than if he stays at light heavyweight. Ward smiled when he was asked by Kellerman if he’d be interested in moving to heavyweight.
You can imagine that Ward might be thinking about a big payday fight against IBF/WBA light heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. It would be an even worse mismatch than the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor fight. Of course, if Ward nailed Joshua with blows and he had a referee that didn’t see them, then maybe Ward could get another controversial knockout low blow win. That would be terrible though. I think they need to have replays for referee that mess up a call like Weeks tonight. That was bad for boxing and definitely terrible for Kovalev. To lose like that after he’d already lost a questionable decision to Ward last November.
What was interesting after the fight was how HBO commentator Max Kellerman barely made a mention of the low blows, calling them borderline. Kellerman could only say that he couldn’t see the last two shots from Ward because his view was partially obscured by referee Tony Weeks. It was clear from the angle of the punches from Ward, that he has throwing low blows, really low blows. It’s unclear why Kellerman couldn’t see what was so obvious.
“Maybe cruiserweight, I don’t know. Maybe heavyweight,” said Ward when asked after the fight what he wants to do for his next fight. “When I saw he was reeling from the body shot that were borderline, I knew it was my time to get hit,” said Ward about Kovalev.
Those were low blows that Ward was hitting Kovalev with, not borderline shots.
The only thing you can say that excuses the terrible ending of the fight is the fact that Kovalev wasn’t complaining about the low blows initially after the fight. Kovalev didn’t start complaining about being hit low until he was shown on the replay by HBO that he’d been hit 3 consecutive times with low blows. While Max Kellerman wasn’t ready to call them low blows, Kovalev was. He said they were low, and he wanted a rematch. Unfortunately in boxing, winning by fouling doesn’t always lead to the results of the fights being overturned, and it doesn’t lead to rematches unless there’s a desire for the winner to make a third fight.
I didn’t see the interest from Ward to give Kovalev a third fight. I think Ward is going to move up in weight to the cruiserweight division unless he can get a fight against IBF/WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. I don’t think Ward would want any piece of WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, because that would be a dangerous fight with little money. The punches that Kovalev was bouncing off Ward’s chin from time to time in tonight’s fight would be knockout blows if Wilder was the one throwing them. Joshua would give Ward a big payday if the fight can get made. The one problem that might stand in the way of a Joshua-Ward fight is the controversy that would be following Ward. The British boxing public likely saw tonight’s Ward-Kovalev 2 rematch, and they might not be excited at seeing Joshua fight a guy that wins by throwing low blows or wins by controversial decisions, like we’ve seen from Ward in his last 2 fights against Kovalev.
If Ward moves up to cruiserweight, he would likely face WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk. He’s a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, and he’s looked vulnerable recently. Usyk isn’t a huge puncher, and he’s beatable. Ward likely wouldn’t take a fight with Murat Gassiev and Mairis Briedis, because those guys are huge punchers, and they would hurt Ward each time they hit him. They’re more solid fighters than Usyk. Ward would still have a lot of problems with Usyk’s size and his southpaw stance. Usyk is a good boxer, and he can hurt you when he sits down on his shots.
Kovalev needs to go back to the drawing board. He should go after a fight with WBA World light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly. Kovalev has already beaten Cleverly in the past by a 4th round knockout in 2013. Kovalev would grow old waiting for a title shot against WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson. I can’t see Stevenson giving Kovalev a title shot in a voluntary defense, even though it would give him a good payday.