Last November I stopped by Head Strong Gym and the main topic of the day was the upcoming show-down between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward, a Unification Title fight with all of the Light-Heavyweight belts on the line (see my previous post). It was a Classic match up of the power punching Russian and the Master Boxer Ward. Most in the gym picked the Russian. The reason was his power, his trainer – former Middleweight Champion John David Jackson, and the belief that Ward was not the fighter he was, having moved up in weight, and been inactive in recent years.
I liked Andre and thought the difference was his body punching, overall skill and mental strength. The fight was excellent and could have gone either way. Kovalev took an early lead and scored a knockdown in the first round, I had it 5-1 Kovalev after six rounds.
Ward then took over, winning all remaining six rounds while landing often to the body. “The Krusher” faded as the fight wore on. At the bell, I had it 114-113 for Ward, as did all three judges. Many disagreed and stage was set for a re-match and this time we didn’t have to wait five years for it.
Again I picked Ward, thinking he had broke the code on the Russian. Everyone knows what happened next. Ward started round 1, like it was the 13th round, right where he left off. He took the lead and never looked back. The the infighting and body punching was the difference along with the supreme confidence of Ward. In the 8th round Ward chased Kovalev into a corner and delivered repeated body blows, the beaten Sergey bent over defenselessly – he had no answer for Andre. The referee stopped the fight. As he should have. The punches were fair, meaning on the belt and legal Kovalev by the way wore his trunks high, I think conceding that was his weakness is to the body.
The fact is that Ward had figured out Kovalev and beaten him physically and mentally. The now twice-beaten Kovalev, his mystic shattered has to rebuild and Andre Ward is now the #1 Pound for Pound Fighter in the world as well as the undisputed Light-Heavyweight Champion of the World. Andre Ward got the last word.
Written by: Al Iannacone Sr.