Why Ward needs to grant Kovalev an immediate rematch
It’s rare that a highly-anticipated fight between two pound-for-pound fighters ends up being as good as advertised, if not better. But Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev delivered on all fronts. A dramatic, nip-and-tuck battle that proved that Ward’s heart is just as big as his talent and Kovalev is much more than a devastating power puncher. That being said, Ward winning a decision wasn’t as definitive as he’d like to think.
It wasn’t quite enough to usurp Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez from the top spot on the pound-for-pound list nor did it completely silence critics of Ward who thought Kovalev was railroaded by the judges (100% wrong). What it did was establish a rivalry that could help carry boxing through a relatively tough time. Which is why Ward absolutely has to grant Kovalev an immediate rematch.
No questions asked.
No “tune up” fights.
There’s nowhere else for these two to turn but to each other.
What Ward and his team need to understand is that greatness is only granted to those who chase it. If there’s any doubt, it needs to be erased. And not only is that for the betterment of his career, but also for the sport of boxing.
To be clear, Kovalev-Ward wasn’t a fight that smashed pay-per-view records. It didn’t even sell out the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. But it did establish a buzz that was necessary for the sport heading into 2017. Boxing has needed a high-caliber fight that exceeds expectations. But once that fight is done, and there is controversy lingering, you have to run it back.
What’s the point in waiting? The light heavyweight division lacks depth and the only thing either fighter can do in the interim is squelch any momentum they built off of this fight. Who’s Ward going to fight next that anybody would care to see? The same goes for Kovalev. But the Russian and his promoter, Kathy Duva of Main Events, have made it very clear that they want an immediate rematch. Ward’s team shouldn’t hesitate in granting that request.
What other fight is there for Ward? Adonis Stevenson? Sure, he could face him to unify the titles. But who really cares? Boxing has needed a rivalry and Ward-Kovalev could be exactly what is needed to establish who is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and raise both fighters profiles. More importantly, Ward can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s the better fighter. Although he defeated Kovalev, the fact remains that he was in a world of trouble during the first half of the fight. He made the proper adjustments to pull out a razor-thin decision but not everyone was convinced.
So, Andre, convince them.
It appeared that Ward figured out Kovalev midway through the fight and made the proper adjustments to nearly sweep the second half of the fight on the judges’ scorecards. And with Ward repeatedly stating that Kovalev cannot adjust, the train of thought here is that the rematch should be more definitive. And, if that’s the case, that pound-for-pound throne is his for the taking.
Nobody argues about S.O.G.’s boxing pedigree. The complaint has always been about his inactivity and opposition over the past three years. He rectified the opposition by facing Kovalev. Now all he has to do is cement it with an outing that’s better than their first clash.
But that’s only if he cares about achieving greatness.
If he cares about playing it safe and padding his bank account, he’ll lose all of the momentum he gained. More importantly, those that started to care about him, will quickly lose interest. Ward has done himself no favors with the casual boxing fan. He doesn’t have a crowd-pleasing style (although he’s a master boxer) and he’s not controversial enough to generate interest from the mainstream (which shouldn’t be valued, but it is) so he has to have the perfect dance partner to capture the attention of the masses. Kovalev was the perfect foil.
Anything outside of an immediate rematch for these two will not only hurt their personal cache with boxing fans, but boxing overall. The fact of the matter is that they are going to have to fight again sooner or later, so why not do it next?