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Ward-Kovalev rematch possible for March 2017

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

By Eric Baldwin: Two days after Andre Ward’s contested 12 round unanimous decision over IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev last Saturday night, Kathy Duva, the promoter for Kovalev, says they’re shooting for March as the target date for the rematch with the 32-year-old Ward.

Duva says they are ABSOLUTELY going to demand the rematch with Ward. That’s their right. They want the rematch, so will need to give them one. Duva says needs to look at the contract to see how much time Ward has before he must give Kovalev a rematch.

She says that Ward cannot fight someone else before he gives Kovalev a rematch. The second fight will not be taking place in California or Russia. It’s in the contract that the fight can take place in either of those places.

Ward defeated Kovalev by the scores of 114-113, 114-113 and 114-113 last Saturday night in a fight televised on HBO pay-per-view at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kovalev believes that the three judges, which he points out were all from the U.S, robbed him of his titles to give to Ward, who is 2004 Olympic gold medalist from the U.S.

Two of the judges gave Ward the last six rounds of the fight from the 7th to 12th. The other judge gave Ward rounds 5-11. Many boxing fans felt that Kovalev did enough to win the fight. Kovalev didn’t like the results of the fight, because he felt that he’d done more than enough to get the win. Kovalev also didn’t like the way referee Robert Byrd allowed Ward to wrestle him all night long without taking points off. Kovalev points out that Ward hit him low constantly in the fight, but nothing was done about it.

Duva said this to about her demanding the rematch and pushing for it to take place in March.

“We have the right to call for it and we will,” said Duva about a rematch between Kovalev and Ward. “I’m going to let them know tomorrow or Monday that we are demanding our right to the rematch, and we’ll start the negotiations to figure out when it can happen. He has to do it immediately if I want him to. I know Sergey. He’ll want to be back inside the ring in March. If he’s healthy and he can do it, then let’s do it in March. I’m ready. He’s ready. We have to look at the clause in the contract to see what the time limits are. Negotiations will ensue. HBO needs a date, and we have to find a site. It’s a lot of work. The contract we have states that none of the fights can take place in California or Russia. We needed a great fight, and I’m happy we got one. We just got the wrong result,” said Duva.

Let’s be honest. The rematch will likely involve even more wrestling/holding than the first fight. Now that Ward knows that he can stifle Kovalev’s punch output by nonstop grappling, it’s going to be a full 12 rounds of that kind of fighting from him in the rematch. Ward didn’t start to grapple with Kovalev until the 3rd round last Saturday night, and he increased the grappling in the second half of the match.

By the 12th, it was nonstop wrestling/holding from Ward. Unless Kovalev learns how to fight better on the inside, Ward is going to go back to mauling in close just like he did last Saturday. But even if Kovalev were to be the best inside fighter in the 175lb division, Ward would likely just wrestle at that point and try and tire him out. Without a good referee working the rematch, the fight is going to likely be nearly unwatchable unless you’re a fan grappling. It’s not news that Ward will try and slow the fight down with his holding. He’s done that in the past when facing better opposition. He doesn’t fight like that when he’s facing guys that are not in his class.

In Ward’s previous three fights against Paul Smith, Sullivan Barrera and Alexander Brand, there was very little grappling from him. Ward didn’t need to. Those guys had no chance against him in terms of actual boxing. They were all over-matched. Kovalev was a different story though. He had a very good chance if not for Ward using the grappling and getting away with it due to the referee doing nothing to address it.

Kovalev reportedly suffered a hand injury in the Ward fight. That’s going to need to heal before a second fight can take place. It’s unclear how much time the injury will need. The boxing fans want to see the fight. Ward said that he’s open to a second match with Kovalev. His promoters at Roc Nation Sports will need to work out the details with Kathy Duva for the rematch. Kovalev is obviously Ward’s best option besides a unification fight against WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson.

Ward didn’t sound excited as the idea of fighting Stevenson though when he was questioned about fighting him next after the fight. Stevenson would be a very hard fight, because he’s so quick and powerful. But who knows? Maybe Ward could get the better of Stevenson by wrestling him all night long like he did with Kovalev. Ward will not be able to beat a guy like Stevenson in actual fighting. Stevenson has too much hand speed, power and offensive skills for him to lose to Ward in an actual fight that doesn’t involve wrestling and holding by Ward. Unfortunately, I have doubts that Ward will ever fight Stevenson. I can’t see it happening. Stevenson is too dangerous, even at 39. He’s too powerful and fast. Stevenson is one of those guys that will likely be still dangerous even in his 40s.

“I had some little problem in my head,” said Kovalev. “It’s my personal. You saw, everybody saw what happened. They robbed my titles for American hero. Let’s do rematch so I will get my belts back. I saw this and I felt that I lost a maximum of four rounds. Plus, I knocked him down in the 2nd round. It’s decided by American judges. He’s American Olympic hero. I’m Russian. Nobody loves Russian, plus, American judges. Let’s make a rematch. I will be ready much better to win every round. I must get every round for victory. What he did. He just jab and grabbed me all the time. He did nothing inside the ring. I blocked everything. He’s the master of the close fight, but he did nothing on the inside. I blocked everything. He punches me low blow, always, always, always. Low blow, low blow, low blow, but I don’t say nothing to the referee that he punch me a lot low blow because I’m a fighter. I didn’t think the decision would be like what happened. Of course, I want a rematch, because I want to get my belts back,” said Kovalev.

The three American judges had it really hard last Saturday. Many of the rounds had so much wrestling, and very little fighting. The referee Robert Byrd should have done a better job of stopping the wrestling by taking points away. If there had no wrestling and holding in the fight, I think we would have seen a much different fight. Someone would have been exposed. I don’t know if it would have been Ward or Kovalev.

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