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Ward feels he put himself in position for #1 pound-for-pound

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

By Eric Baldwin: Andre Ward believes that his win over IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev last Saturday night put himself in position to be considered for the No.1 pound for pound spot in boxing. Ward notes that the buildup to the Kovalev fight was all about the winner being the No.1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.

Now that the fight is over and he’s won it by a narrow 12 round unanimous decision, he feel he should be considered for the sport. Ring Magazine updated their ratings after the Kovalev vs. Ward fight, and they now have Ward moved from the No.4 to No.2 spot behind No.1 Roman Gonzalez.

It’s likely that Ring Magazine chose not to install Ward as the No.1 guy in their ratings, because his win over Kovalev was a controversial one. It wasn’t conclusive except three judges who had Ward winning by the scores 114-113, 114-13 and 114-113. The wider boxing public seems to have favored Kovalev.

It’s got to be frustrating for Ward, and for the fans that picked him as the winner, because there are so many fans and members of the media who felt differently. They believe that Kovalev should have kept his titles. When there’s a majority that believes the opposite of the judges, it kind of marginalizes their decision.

“I definitely feel like I put myself in position,” said Ward to about him deserving the #1 pound-for-pound ranking. “Before this fight all the buildup to this fight was the winner of this fight should be recognized as the pound for pound champ. Now that this fight is over, I don’t see why it should be anything different. I think people are entitled to their opinion. It was a close fight, and I feel I won hands down. I feel like I earned it. I feel like I did what I was supposed to do. I feel like I took it from the champ. It was a unanimous decision. It was three judges that felt the same way, even though it was close. I don’t have a problem with anybody feeling like Kovalev won it by a round or two. That’s a difference of opinion. Maybe a round that went to me, you thought should have went to him. That’s understandable. But anybody that’s out there blowing a horn trying to say it’s a robbery or something political about it. I’m not the guy that gets those kinds of breaks. I’m not a political fighter. I have always had to earn everything. If I got my hand raised, trust me, I earned it,” said Ward.

It’s not likely that Ring Magazine is going to install Ward as their No.1 pound for pound fighter after his win over Kovalev. Besides the controversy involved in the fight, it also wasn’t a really crowd pleasing performance from Ward. He did a lot of holding, wrestling and moving around the ring. It’s hard to jusify having Ward as the No.1 pound for pound fighter with that type of fighting style. If the top spot is designated for fighters that dominate their opposition and make for entertaining fights, I think Ward came up short against Kovalev in both of those departments. Ward did not dominate Kovalev, and his fighting style was far from exciting.

Ward held and wrestled a lot. If you compare how #1 Roman Gonzalez and #4 Gennady “GGG” Golovkin fought their last fights, it’s like night and day compared to Ward. They were more exciting in my view, and they did not do a lot of holding or wrestling like we saw from Ward. Based on how Ward fought, he’s lucky Ring Magazine moved him up from No.4 to No.2 in their ratings, because he leap-frogged over #3 Golovkin in the ratings. Golovkin is now at the No.4 spot. If you look at Golovkin’s last fight against Kell Brook, he dominated him a lot better than Ward dominated Kovalev. There was no controversy with Golovkin’s win over Brook. He stopped him in the 5th round. If the hadn’t been stopped by Brook’s trainer Dominic Ingle, then he likely would have been knocked out by Golovkin in the same round.

“I think a rematch is definitely something that can take place,” said Ward about the rematch with Kovalev. “One thing that Kovalev and his team have to understand is the negotiations are going to be different. I’m the champion now, and he’s the challenger. Everybody can come to the table with that kind of understanding. I think something can get done for sure,” said Ward.

That sounds like Ward plans on negotiating hard with Kovalev. Hopefully the rematch can get made. If they offer Kovalev peanuts, it’s going to make it difficult for the two of them to face each other. That goes for any fight that Ward has. It would be disappointing if he’s stuck fighting only the obscure contenders that are willing to accept the money offered. It’ll end up going to purse bids if his team fails to offer fair deals. It’s in Ward’s best interest to make sure the rematch with Kovalev gets made, because it’s not as if the division is full of stars. There’s only Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson that Ward can fight that will bring in a lot of fan interest. It would be a pity if the Ward-Kovalev rematch doesn’t get made.

“I really believe that once I’ve seen a fighter and been in the ring with a fighter, I have a tremendous advantage in the rematch, because I feel like I can make certain adjustments and do certain things different,” said Ward. “Unfortunately, his style is set. He’s got an Easter European style, which is a great style, where it is difficult to deal with and it took me several rounds to get used to it in my fight with him. But that’s the best that he had. That’s the best shape Kovalev can be in. That’s the best fighter we’re going to see. I don’t believe the fans saw the best Andre Ward. Being that I’ve seen him, the rematch is going to be a lot different,” said Ward.

Ward needs to realize that his win over Kovalev was questionable. It wasn’t a clear win. If Kovalev improves his inside fighting skills by the time they face each other in the rematch, then it could be worse for Ward. That’s the only area where Ward was really consistently getting the better of Kovalev on the inside.

When the two fighters were on the outside, Kovalev was the better guy overall. Ward did better when he took the fight to the inside and mauled Kovalev. If Kovalev improves his inside game from last time, then it could be very tough fight for Ward. All Ward was doing on the outside was jabbing. Kovalev was landing the better shots from the outside. Although with the three judges that were assigned to the fight, they likely felt that Ward was better on the outside as well. I don’t think he was. Kovalev was landing the better shots on the outside, because he was throwing power shots to Ward’s jabs.

It’ll be interesting to see how the rematch is conducted. I have a feeling that Ward will take it immediately to the inside and look to hold and smother Kovalev for 12 rounds. Even if Ward wins a second fight, it’s going to be potentially difficult to make a case that he deserves the top pound for pound spot if all he does is mostly maul Kovalev.

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