Kovalev vs. Ward recap: Andre deserved the win

By Boxing News - 11/21/2016 - Comments


By Shannon Friedrich: As the dust settles, the boxing community remains perplexed and partial to the decision given to Andre Ward for the IBF/WBO/WBA World Light Heavyweight Title on Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada. Many dedicated and casual boxing fans, pundits, ringside attendants, media boxing analysts, managers, promoters and professional fighters say it was a shutout win for Sergey Kovalev, with some claiming that Kovalev easily won up to potentially 9 rounds to Ward’s 3, as well as holding a 10/8 second round advantage.

On another hand, many of those people who watched the fight that night, whether ringside, at the venue or at home might have witnessed a very, very close fight that could have went either way, acknowledging that some, or many of the rounds were in fact so close that the fight could have gone to one man or the other.

However, the 3 people whose opinion and understanding of what they saw as it played out in front of their eyes as they sat ringside to score what was promoted as the fight of the year, saw a fight unfold that influenced them to all declare unanimously Ward as the definitive but marginal winner of what was a hard fought, tactical and often tumultuous encounter in the ring that night.

So, what did we see? Well, what I believe everyone saw in the first two rounds of this fight was that Ward had no immediate answer for what Kovalev stepped into the ring with that night. Anyone who is a Ward fan or any man that had placed a bet on Ward winning this fight by any means, was at that point, feeling very faint and possibly light headed, maybe a bit shaky, extremely anxious and nervous, and almost convinced that Ward was in deep, deep trouble. And with good reason. Ward was floored and out mastered early in the fight by Kovalev’s timing, range, accuracy and solid shots that seemed to beat Ward at almost everything he attempted to execute to gain an early advantage. This fact was exemplified especially in the 2nd round when Kovalev brilliantly caught Ward with a 1, 2 combination right hand that stopped Ward in his tracks while trying to deliver his own counter right. From this point, Ward looked beat, but desperate to hold on and make it to the end of the round. But what happens next is something that I believe changes the course of the fight in such a subtle way, that only those who believe Ward won the fight might have seen.

My suggestion is that anyone who scored round 3 for Kovalev needs to go back a re-watch the tape. Ward was rocked, hard, and was a bit shaky and unsure, but regathered himself enough composure to come out in the 3rd and make a dog fight of this title fight. Ward didn’t look good going into the 3rd, and obviously had to work very hard to avoid another knockdown as Kovalev was continuing to press forward with the attack. Ward started to really grapple and wrestle Kovalev to try and gain some respect back by muscling and frustrating Kovalev, not allowing him to get another definitive clean and telling shot on him. If you watch that round several times and break down each exchange, scoring each exchange for who scored the cleaner punches that actually connected, you’ll see that Ward edges Kovalev slightly but definitively with more connected shots to take Round 3. To back this statement up, the compuBox numbers support this claim:

Round 3

Total punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 4/27 (14.8%) against Ward 5/22 (22.7%)

Jabs landed/thrown- Kovalev 2/15 (13.3%) against Ward 2/12 (16.7%)

Power punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 2/12 (16.7%) against Ward 3/10 (30%)

Total average percentage- Kovalev 14.93% against Ward 23.13%

However, those who saw Kovalev winning Round 3 may have been influenced by Kovalev’s momentum of rounds 1 and 2, as well as Kovalev’s higher volume of output punching, and were not able to distinguish the slight advantage Ward clawed back in round 3 to steal it away without many people noticing. Most people who had Kovalev winning that 3rd round would have struggled to grasp the fact that Ward won that round by throwing less, but connecting more. But the numbers don’t lie

This then sets up the rest of the fight. There’s no doubt it takes a very well trained eye to be able to dictate which fighter was winning which round, and it is reasonable to say that momentum began to swing in Wards favor by round 5. I believe Kovalev still had significant success in stealing or making a strong case for some of the rounds. On my re-watch, I had the fight a draw. If you consider Ward’s recovery and tenacity to get back into the fight by putting in a performance that never saw him reach the level of domination that Kovalev showed earlier, but enough to swing as much as 6 or 7 rounds in his favor, against Kovalev’s constant pressure, heavier shots, the knockdown and dominating first 2 rounds, but most importantly the fact that Kovalev was the champion, meaning Ward had to win convincingly to take his 3 title belts, than you cannot deny that Kovalev deserves to be sorely disappointed for the decision given by the judges and could have easily or arguably been hailed as still…….. (light heavyweight champion of the world).

However, never mind what I think, because there is one more factor that may support not only Andre Ward, but also the judges who scored the fight. The compubox stats.

In looking at the stats we find:


Total punches landed/thrown- Kovalev threw 7/34 (20.6%) to Ward’s 5/20 (25%)

Jabs landed/thrown- Kovalev threw 4/22 (18.2%) to Ward’s 4/13 (30.8%)

Power punches landed/thrown- 3/12 (25%) to Ward’s 1/7 (14.3%)

Total average percentage- Kovalev 21.27 against Ward 23.37

However round 1 was clearly Kovalev’s due to the connectivity and impact of those power shots


Total punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 16/49 (32.7%) against Ward 3/16 (18.8%)

Jabs landed/thrown- Kovalev 5/23 (21.7%) against Ward 3/12 (25%)

Power punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 11/26 (42.3%) against Ward 0/4 (0%)

Total average percentage- Kovalev 32.23% against Ward 21.9%

Including the knockdown round 2 was a clear 10/8 round for Kovalev


Total punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 4/27 (14.8%) against Ward 5/22 (22.7%)

Jabs landed/thrown- Kovalev 2/15 (13.3%) against Ward 2/12 (16.7%)

Power punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 2/12 (16.7%) against Ward 3/10 (30%)

Total average percentage- Kovalev 14.93% against Ward 23.13%

Who would you give this round to?


Total punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 9/37 (24.3%) against Ward 7/25 (28%)

Jabs landed/thrown- Kovalev 3/22 (13.6%) against Ward 4/14 (28.6%)

Power punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 6/15 (40%) against Ward 3/11 (27.3%)

Total average percentage- Kovalev 25.97% against Ward 27.97%

Hmmmmmm….. you decide. Ward advantage


Total punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 7/33 (21.2%) against Ward 8/24 (33.3%)

Jabs landed/thrown- Kovalev 3/17 (17.6%) against Ward 3/10 (30%)

Power punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 4/16 (25%) against Ward 5/14 (35.7%)

Total average percentage- Kovalev 21.27% against Ward 33%

Clearly Ward that round


Total punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 9/36 (25%) against Ward 8/25 (32%)

Jabs landed/thrown- Kovalev 3/17 (17.6%) against Ward 5/13 (38.5%)

Power punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 6/19 (31.6%) against Ward 3/12 (25%)

Total average percentage- Kovalev 24.73% against Ward 31.83%

Ward has another round and the momentum


Total punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 7/29 (24.1%) against Ward 11/32 (34.4%)

Jabs landed/thrown- Kovalev 1/10 (10%) against Ward 6/12 (50%)

Power punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 6/19 (31.6%) against Ward 5/20 (25%)

Total average percentage- Kovalev 21.9% against Ward 36.47%

Ward easily


Total punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 10/38 (26.3%) against Ward 11/32 (34.4%)

Jabs landed/thrown- Kovalev 4/20 (20%) against Ward 1/12 (8.3%)

Power punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 6/18 (33.3%) against Ward 10/20 (50%)

Total average percentage- Kovalev 26.53% against Ward 30.9%

Close round? Ward advantage


Total punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 11/46 (23.9%) against Ward 17/38 (44.7%)

Jabs landed/thrown- Kovalev 4/22 (18.2%) against Ward 8/20 (40%)

Power punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 7/24 (29.2%) against Ward 9/18 (50%)

Total average percentage- Kovalev 23.77% against Ward 44.9%

Definitive round for Ward


Total punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 21/58 (36.2%) against Ward 16/35 (45.7%)

Jabs landed/thrown- Kovalev 11/33 (33.3%) against Ward 9/23 (39.1%)

Power punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 10/25 (40%) against Ward 7/12 (58.3%)

Total average percentage- Kovalev 36.5% against Ward 47.7%

Ward round


Total punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 12/40 (30%) against Ward 13/26 (50%)

Jabs landed/thrown- Kovalev 5/22 (22.7%) against Ward 9/15 (60%)

Power punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 7/18 (38.9%) against Ward 4/11 (36.4%)

Total average percentage- Kovalev 30.53% against Ward 48.8%

Another Ward round


Total punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 13/47 (27.7%) against Ward 12/42 (28.6%)

Jabs landed/thrown- Kovalev 3/19 (15.8%) against Ward 1/12 (8.3%)

Power punches landed/thrown- Kovalev 10/28 (35.7%) against Ward 11/30 (36.7%)

Total average percentage- Kovalev 26.4% against Ward 24.53%

Another close round. Kovalev advantage

Final punch stats

Total punches- Kovalev 126/474 (26.6%) against Ward 116/337 (34.4%)

Total jabs- Kovalev 48/242 (19.8%) against Ward 55/168 (32.7%)

Total power punches- 78/232 (33.6%) against Ward 61/169 (36.1%)

Total average percentage for fight- Kovalev 26.67% against Ward 34.4%

If you were to give Kovalev the close round in 4 (even though he was behind on percentage punches landed), and also round 12 which he landed the greater percentage, than you could only effectively give Sergey Kovalev 4 rounds of the fight including the 10/8 of round 2… this would still only give Kovalev a score of 112 based on the CompuBox numbers. If you were to give Kovalev ROUND 8, which was a close round but still saw Ward make a larger percentage of connected punches, Kovalev would still only score 113.

If you were to score the rounds effectively by just looking at the numbers, then Ward wins rounds 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.. this effectively would give Ward a score of 116. If you were to give Kovalev rounds 4 and 8 which were closely contested rounds than you would still give Andre Ward a score of 114. As far as the stats are concerned, Andre Ward clearly won this fight and the judges have done an excellent job.

I have spent hours preparing this piece to try and make sense of a fight that boxing enthusiasts all over the world are trying to piece together. I am not trying to make a case for Ward, however, I have found a way to take away emotion and perception with the only analytical information available to make an unbiased and calculated decision based on numbers. I hope you enjoyed this breakdown of what I would describe an absolutely incredible and fantastic fight. A huge congratulation to Ward for a well-earned victory, and a big appreciation for Kovalev for an outstanding performance.