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Kovalev vs. Ward: Andre clinches a dubious decision

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev


By Gerardo Granados: Last Saturday night, Andre Ward put up an ugly boxing exhibition to clinch a dubious unanimous decision win over Sergey Kovalev by the scores of 114-113 x 3 (by the three fight judges) to win the WBA-WBO-IBF light heavyweight titles. It was neither a boxing chess match nor a good scrap, but instead, one of the dirtiest title fights that I have seen in a very long time.

Elbows, headbutts, low blows, kidney punches, rabbit punches, pushing, tackles, hitting when ordered to break and endless clinching that resembled Greco Roman Wrestling.

Referee Robert Byrd allowed constant fouls from Ward since the first round, and then Kovalev retaliated and also endlessly fouled. At the end referee failed to imposed his authority, he didn’t even warn to take a point in any round to Ward or Kovalev.

How is it possible that even if the challenger clinched and shut off most part of the fight, that Andre was awarded a unanimous decision win? In the past the challenger had to take the title from the champion and if the fight was close the title stayed with the champion.

The way Ward fought should have led to disqualification, but just as when he won a decision against Viking Warrior Mikkel Kessler, the referee failed to address Ward’s endless dirty tactics to get the favor from the judges. Against Kessler, Ward started approximately 90 clinches thru twelve rounds and last Saturday night it was him who used the clinch as a defensive tactic to negate Kovalev attack and to break his rhythm and concentration.

Maybe Bernard Hopkins was right to say that Ward needed to tie Kovalev up. Perhaps Sergey shouldn’t have engaged in the dirty game. But for sure, the rules are clear and the referee failed miserably to do his job.

NO, to clinch-hug-tie up isn’t a defensive move, it is a foul according to the rules. On times, only when a boxer is hurt, it will be smart to try to clinch to catch a breath, but never to use it systematically due the lack of inside defensive skills.

I can’t recall the last time that two pound for pound boxers showed such a poor inside game. I refuse to give to Ward the number one spot at the pound for pound list due his performance against Kovalev.

Initially I scored it 114-113 for Kovalev, but after watching it again, I score it 115-112 for Kovalev.

This bout will go down in boxing history not as an epic battle, but instead, as one of the dirtiest of all times. I will blame the referee for this outcome, but sadly, I am sure that this situation will repeat itself in the very near future.

As I stated, Andre Ward clinched a dubious unanimous decision. Yes, one of those called local decisions that happen all the time, but not a robbery. If Kovalev had avoided to engage in the dirty game and had adjusted once Ward did, when Andre change angles once he timed Kovalev due the already predictable attack, then maybe Kovalev could have won a clear decision.
I am not eager to see a rematch. But what about the reader, are you?


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