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Kovalev-Ward replay draws 834K viewers on HBO

Andre Ward Sergey Kovalev

By Allan Fox: Last Saturday night’s replay on HBO of the light heavyweight clash between IBF/WBA/WBO champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and Andre “SOG” Ward did a respectable 834,000 viewers on HBO. The fight, which was won by Ward by a controversial 12 round unanimous decision, took place on November 19 on HBO pay-per-view at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ward won the fight by the scores 114-113, 114-113 and 114-113. Many of the members of the boxing media had Ward losing the fight. Ward had been knocked down in the 2nd round of the fight, and he wasn’t able to do much in the fight other than land jabs.

Ward stropped trying to throw right hands after he was knocked down. The rest of the fight was Kovalev throwing power shots when he wasn’t being held, and Ward throwing jabs and occasional body shots on the inside.

The Kovalev vs. Ward replay was shown before the super featherweight contest between WBO champion Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko and Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters. The two fights had disappointing outcomes in the view of a lot of boxing fans, because neither of them were great fights. Walters quit on his stool after the 7th round of a fight that was more of a chess-match than a brawl.

Lomachenko-Walters averaged 761, 000 viewers on HBO.

The Kovalev-Ward fight was more of a wrestling match with a lot of mauling and holding by Ward. The Las Vegas crowd was fully on Ward’s side the moment that Kovalev walked into the ring to a chorus of boos. One got the sense right then that Kovalev was going to have a hard time with the pro-Ward crowd.

Sure enough, the crowd cheered Ward all night long while remaining mostly quiet during the times that Kovalev landed shots. The referee Robert Byrd took a hands off approach to policing low blows and the wrestling. It was a fight where Kovalev had to deal with things on his own, and he wasn’t equipped for wrestling.

Ward said this about Kovalev on his Instagram:

“He doesn’t want that inside work!!,” Ward said. “It’s amazing to me that the same guy who said he would kick me in the ring if he had to, the same guy who said he wanted a street fight, is the same guy calling me a dirty fighter & the same guy crying foul because things didn’t go his way. The reality is when a guy likes to fight one way, on the outside, and is very uncomfortable fighting inside, they call you a dirty fighter. It’s called inside work!! That’s the way I was taught, you have to be able to adapt and have more than one style at the highest level.”

Kovalev said that he plans on knocking Ward out in the rematch, because he doesn’t want to let the judges decide the fight a second time. If Kovalev is going to KO Ward, then he’s going to probably need to do it on the inside, because Ward is very likely going to attach himself to him as soon as the fight starts so that he can’t get his shots off. Ward is not as good on the outside as Kovalev.

At this point in Ward’s career, he’s kind of down to just being an inside mauler type of guy. If Kovalev is going to KO Ward in the rematch, he might need to get with Artur Beterbiev to learn how he hammers his opponents out on the inside. I don’t know if that can be taught though in such a short period of time. The rematch between Kovalev and Ward will likely take place in March or April 2017. They’re not likely going to drag it out too long.

If Kovalev can adapt to fighting on the inside, then it’s going to be a real problem for Ward, because he was no match for Kovalev when there was space between them. It came down to Kovalev’s power shots to Ward’s jabs. But as the rounds wore on there were less and less time where there wasn’t holding and mauling being done.

It was boring for this writer to watch, because I like boxing and I’m not a fan of MMA or just plain holding. Of the two fighters, Kovalev has the better chance of improving for the rematch than Ward, because there’s a lot of improvement he can make in that area. Ward won’t be able to improve his outside game, because he doesn’t have the punching power.

If Ward throws right hands, he’s going to get countered by Kovalev’s right hand and left hook that he likes to throw. The fight will end up like Kovalev vs. Bernard Hopkins II. That’s why I think Ward is stuck with his only game plan that he has in his arsenal, and that’s to maul. If Kovalev learns how to throw short punches in close the way that Beterbiev does, then Ward is going to have a hard time in the rematch. The good news is that Kovalev has the punching power to be a real problem for Ward on the inside if he can learn how to fight on the inside. There’s a ton of room for improvement in Kovalev’s inside game. In the case of Ward, he’s pretty much stuck with just his inside game and the jabbing he does. If he tries to fight on the outside and throw power shots, he’s going to likely get dropped again.For that reason, I don’t think Ward will even attempt to fight on the outside. He’ll take it straight to the inside and try and maul.

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