|Another boxing robbery|
Round One: Feeling out process early as both paw with probing punches. Ward taps left jabs to Kovalev's body. A left jab buckles Ward's knees and he reels away to the ropes, hurt from the power early and holding on. When Krusher's hands are moving towards Ward, SOG is moving back away from them and he complains to the African American referee who warns Kovalev for pushing down. A stiff left jab from the defending light heavyweight champion punctuates the opening round and wins it for him, 10-9.
|Early knockdown predicted by KO Digest on RingTV|
Things look grim for Ward.
Round Three: Ward leads with a left jab, clinch combo to open the third. An SOG lead right misses and Ward follows through with an attempted tackle. The referee warms them both for some reason. Kovalev offered a sportsmanlike glove and SOG let it hang. Ward struggles to avoid the left jab of Kovalev. Ward is clearly uncomfortable under such attack. When Ward stops moving, he ends up in a clinch of his own creation. Another stiff left jab from Kovalev has Ward holding on again with no warning. In a round of jabs, Kovalev's clearly had more of an effect on Ward than vice-versa.
Round to Kovalev, 10-9. He's now up 30-26 after three.
|Ward struggled with Kovalev|
Round Five: Typical pattern of the fight continues with Ward either backing up or dirty clinching in some form or fashion. Kovalev's left jab lands and Ward is disrupted again by it. Ward somehow ends up behind Kovalev and as Krusher spins out to right himself from the awkward position initiated by Ward, SOG punches at Krusher from behind, another foul. At the mid-way point of the round, Ward spears Kovalev with a left jab. They trade hard left jabs with 30 seconds left in the round. Kovalev lands another hard jab just before the bell. If you're an Andre Ward fanclub member, you give him this round.
If you're trying to be as fair as possible, it's another close round for Kovalev, 10-9.
Round Six: Things get ugly quick after Ward places a few soft body punches. Clinching and mauling persist. Ward cannot fight on even terms with Kovalev in a stand up fight or in heavy punching exchanges. Everyone including Kovalev and the referee seems frustrated with Ward's tendencies. A long right hand bounces off the head of Ward at the half way point in the round. Kovalev seems to have the answer for Ward while SOG looks lost in there at times. A sweeping left hook and right hand to the face from Kovalev keeps Ward moving away from the action. Ward digs a left to the gut at the ten second warning. They fight in a clinch at the bell. Kovalev round 10-9.
Round Seven: Hardly a single punch of consequence lands in the first 60 seconds. Ward lands a left jab and the crowd reacts like he just dropped Kovalev, a feat Blake Caparello (but not SOG) was once able to pull off. They again fight in the clinches and Ward lands a right to the body on the way out of one of them. Ward's jab is more accurate in this round. A straight left hand from Kovalev forces Ward to hold on and deny the power of the punch with exaggerated head movements. Ward steals his first round, 10-9.
|Ward eats a left on the ropes|
Round Nine: When Ward sets and attacks Kovalev, I am reminded of a prime Buddy McGirt but in this case, a less effective version. Buddy never had to deal with a Russian as good as Kovalev. Suddenly a snappy little boxing match breaks out and both are jabbing and moving. Ward lashes out with another good right to the body. Kovalev seems to be giving him the punch though. A hard right Krusher cross has Ward holding on with a minute to go.
Ward eats a left along the ropes and a right at the bell. Kovalev wins the round 10-9.
Round Ten: Another round for Kovalev. His jab is landing well. Ward responds with a pair of lefts, the hook and the jab. Krusher's jab breaks through Ward's timing, stymies his bolo punch attempt, something I wish Hagler could have done better and more marvelously against that dastardly Ray Leonard. With a minute to go, Kovalev lands a strong right like the one that decked Ward earlier. Ward takes the blow well but finds the jab hard to avoid. It would be impossible to score this round for anyone but Kovalev unless you were a Vegas boxing judge on the take. Kovalev 10-9. All three judges steal this round from Kovalev, proof they were in the tank for Ward.
Round Eleven: They wrestle to commence the championship rounds. Ward lands a pair of jabs, up and down. His left hook misses, something few fighters other than Kovalev have been able to consistently make happen in a boxing ring. Kovalev appears tight and disciplined as they trade jabs into jarring right hands that jolt Ward upon impact. By this point, Ward appears unusually battered and bloody. Kovalev looks slightly fatigued with a touch of blood from the left nostril. Ward lands a wide left hook but Kovalev makes him pay by chasing him around the ring with straight punches. A nice jab from Ward snaps Kovalev's head back as the round ends.
Krusher round 10-9. It looks to me like Ward needs a knockout to win.
Round Twelve: Ward lands a few left hooks early in the last round. Kovalev answers with a left hook of his own before clean punching devolves again into sloppy infighting and clinching. Both go well to the body during this period. Kovalev appears to go low on purpose and gets a warning for it as the fighters exchange more baleful stares than hard legal punches.
Round goes to Ward 10-9 for that early success and dedicated body attack late.
KO Digest scores the fight 117-110 for Kovalev.
|Ward looks very surprised that he won|
|Crooked American Judges|
McKaie gave the 5th to Ward
Clements gave the 5th and 6th to Ward
Trowbridge gave the 3rd to Ward
So we see the judges are like Ward and his body punches. Placing them early so they will pay off later. On to the second half of the fight. Ward battled back. Sometimes surviving, rarely thriving, and by no means dominating.
In fact, if Ward was doing anything well, it was dirty boxing and fouling.
The judges, able to track their own individual running tallies like a card counter in Vegas, realize what must be done.
Or perhaps somebody in a panic tells them. Whatever. Regardless, it is done. Only one judge gives Kovalev one round in the second half of the fight he's the world champ in. That's a tragedy. It's Clements. He gave Kovalev the 12th because he has room on his card for that. Obvious fix is obvious. Kovalev was failed and robbed by four biased American officials, including the referee.
Written by Jeffrey Freeman, exclusively for KO Digest