Dougie’s Monday mailbag
ANDRE WARD’S LEGACY
I just wanted to get your thoughts on the Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev rematch. I’ve personally never been a big fan of Ward’s but he’s kind of won me over in his last two fights with Kovalev, especially this one. I love how he was able to dig deep in this fight and gut out a stoppage of a truly terrifying man in Kovalev after realizing he just wasn’t going to be able to outbox the Russian.
I know plenty of people will complain that Ward won this fight on low blows but the truth is Kovalev was starting to gas by round six due to upping his volume, along with Ward’s body attack and wrestling. It’s true Ward landed a few low blows in the final round but it was a dirty fight, one filled with head-locking, rabbit punching, and getting tangled up on the inside. One thing that I think is to Ward’s credit is that a few times Kovalev stopped fighting without Tony Weeks breaking the fight up and Ward didn’t pounce on him the way Floyd Mayweather or Guillermo Rigondeaux likely would’ve.
I know you were rooting for Kovalev in this one, Doug, but do you feel this is an illegitimate win for Ward or were you impressed by his grit and game plan? I personally think a stoppage win over a prime Kovalev combined with cleaning out the super middleweight division pushes Ward past Mayweather legacy wise, but I wish the win was a little cleaner. – Jack
I’m no fan of Mayweather, but I must disagree with your opinion that Ward has surpassed the self-proclaimed “TBE” in terms of legacy. But hey, the Californian is headed in the right direction. If he remains in the sport for another three or four years and takes on the right challenges, who knows? Maybe boxing fans and media will start calling him TBE (Max Kellerman certainly seems like he’s ready to do that).
I think the Weeks refereeing and Ward’s low blows marred what was a compelling but often ugly fight, but I don’t think Ward’s fouls were often or egregious enough to make his victory “illegitimate.” And yes, I was absolutely impressed by his grit and game plan, but mostly with his grit because I thought he was having a tough time with Kovalev and catching a lot of heavy shots through the first six rounds. However, Ward hung in there, kept his focus, found a way to hurt and rattle Kovalev (with the body shots and low blows in the middle rounds), and he seized the moment when he rocked the Russian with a head shot in Round 8. That’s how one makes a statement and comes back from a controversial decision. I just wish the fight hadn’t been stopped on a blatant low blow.
EAT SOME CROW, DOUGIE
How would you like the crow served, Dougie?
Andre Ward is P4P!!! Cheers bro. – Gbenga X-adebija, Lagos, Nigeria
THE RING had Ward No. 1 in its pound-for-pound rankings before the Saturday’s rematch (not that I agreed with that)… but yeah, I do have to consume some crow. It’s not the first or last time that I’ll publicly dine on this bird. But I’ve eaten enough of it to have acquired a taste for it, so I’ll eat this one raw and served cold (like Ward’s revenge against all us “haters”) with a bottle of red wine.
Haven’t written to you in a long time. First off, great fight. I’m a fan of both fighters, but I think this fight’s last round was SO disappointing. I thought Kovalev was certainly winning on points up to that point, was more aggressive and landing the more effective punches. Towards the second half of the fight I was starting to think Ward was coming on and Kovalev was tiring, but I thought Kovalev was still winning.
I also didn’t see him slowing down that quickly or giving up, which I don’t believe he did. HBO might have some of the worst commentators ever or they’re being paid to say exactly what HBO tells them! Roy Jones Jr. and Jim Lampley completely favor their network’s favored fighters. Ward was losing, but still very much in it and on the offense, but his face showed effects and he was on his way to losing a decision if it remained status quo. Roy, Lampley, etc., like to say the punch that started it all was a fair punch on the belt line, but anyone who saw the replay knows that was a clear low blow. No question about it. How Jones, a multi-division champion, can stare directly at the camera and claim that was a legal punch is bizarre to me. It couldn’t be more clear! Max Kellerman might actually own stock in Ward’s NUT SACK to praise him like he was. It’s ridiculous. I felt like I was watching a different fight. It’s the very reason why you get a better idea of a fight when turning the volume off.
I personally don’t think that we would have seen a stoppage that round or seen Kovalev hurt that round if that didn’t happen. I do think Ward could have possibly hurt him fairly, seemed to be on the offense and Kovalev might have been slowing down. This could have purely been based on the low blow.
Either way I didn’t care who won because I respect and like both fighters. I just wanted a win with NO questions. The first fight I thought Kovalev won and was robbed. And now the second fight I still have questions even though I think Ward would have probably won. I just feel the fans deserved a more clear decisive victory with no questions. I want a rematch!!!!! I would favor Ward, but I think it deservers a rematch. And if they fought 20 times I think fights like these the fans win. Either way, definitely a low blow. Thoughts? – Michael, NYC
Ward landed his share of borderline/beltline punches and a few clear (arguably blatant) low blows. Tony Weeks should have warned him more for that infraction and he should have given Kovalev the 5-minute option to recover at least once during Rounds 7 and 8. But he didn’t. Kovalev was on his own in there (as the underdog fighter from a visiting country facing a home-country favorite often is in boxing) and he needed to figure out how to defend and retaliate against Ward’s body attack. He wasn’t able to do that and he suffered the consequences. It’s harsh, but boxing is a harsh sport.
I think Ward legitimately hurt Kovalev with a head shot before driving the former champ to the ropes and concentrating on the body. And even before Ward landed that final low blow, Kovalev was folded over with the body language of a depleted/defeated fighter. That’s what it looked like to me in real time. I thought he was a finished. I’m not sure that a 10 count or even a 5-minute recover break for the foul shot would have made a difference, but obviously it would have been better if Weeks would have issued one or the other instead of immediately waving the fight off.
Despite the controversy and outrage from some hardcore fans, I don’t care to see a third consecutive fight between these two light heavyweights. Ward and Kovalev are evenly matched and combine to make a competitive fight, but their styles don’t mesh in an entertaining way and the close and subjective nature of their rounds only leads to divided (often polarizing) opinions on who won each stanza. Beyond the non-conclusive, often ugly outcome in the ring, both fighters lack likable personalities (at least when they’re preparing to fight each other), and are so spiteful toward each other that they are willing to blow off media obligations, plus their promotional entities are so contentious that they literally cannot work together. I’m sick of Ward, Kovalev, Main Events and Roc Nation bitching at and about each other. I want to see these guys in the ring with other dance partners, and lucky for the fans, there are more than a few worthy opponents in the talented 175-pound division. Maybe if Kovalev can string a couple strong wins together, I’d be interested in a third go-around with Ward, but I’m ready to move on for the time being.
I thought Kovalev was certainly winning on points up to that point, was more aggressive and landing the more effective punches. I had Kovalev up 4-3 after seven rounds (scoring Rounds 1, 4 and 7 for Ward). I thought both fighters were landing effective punches.
Towards the second half of the fight I was starting to think Ward was coming on and Kovalev was tiring, but I thought Kovalev was still winning. Same here.
I also didn’t see him slowing down that quickly or giving up, which I don’t believe he did. I don’t think Kovalev gave up, but I think he was hurt to the head and the body in Round 8 and was quickly pounded into involuntary submission with a series of borderline body shots and low blows.
HBO might have some of the worst commentators ever or they’re being paid to say exactly what HBO tells them! I think HBO’s broadcast booth is excellent (and in Lampley’s case, legendary) but they’ve always pushed a fixed narrative going into their high-profile events and often lose sight of the action taking place in the ring while conveying their perceived story lines during the fights.
Roy Jones Jr. and Jim Lampley completely favor their network’s favored fighters. I think all of HBO’s commentators (except for maybe Harold Lederman) are in love with Ward, but I thought Lampley counter-balanced Jones’ and Kellerman’s cheer-leading with an accurate blow-by-blow call and round-by-round account of CompuBox stats.
Ward was losing, but still very much in it and on the offense, but his face showed effects and he was on his way to losing a decision if it remained status quo. That’s what I thought, but you and I were watching from TV and HBO’s crew were ringside (although, that includes Lederman, who definitely saw the same fight you were watching).
Roy, Lampley, etc., like to say the punch that started it all was a fair punch on the belt line, but anyone who saw the replay knows that was a clear low blow. I thought the punch that started it all was that shot to the chops, not the punches to the nuts.
How Jones, a multi-division champion, can stare directly at the camera and claim that was a legal punch is bizarre to me. It’s simple. Jones was a U.S. Olympian, just like Ward. Jones followed Ward’s amateur career and even co-promoted the Bay Area boxing talent (along with the late Dan Goossen) early in Ward’s career. He admires Ward’s dedication to the sport and his Christian faith in God. I think Jones’ boxing insight during a fight broadcast is second to none, but he’s never been shy about openly rooting for fighters that he considers “teammates” or feels he has a connection to.
Max Kellerman might actually own stock in Ward’s NUT SACK to praise him like he was. You sound like James Toney when he used to rant about the HBO crew’s cheer-leading for Jones.
I felt like I was watching a different fight. So did I, but Jones and Kellerman were ultimately proven correct.
This last bout has left a really sour taste in my mouth and the controversial outcome was predictable early on in the fight. Ward started to grab in Round 1 & landed a meaty low blow in Round 2 which got a limp warning from a limp ref, Weeks. Weeks chose to ignore all subsequent Ward low blows as well as the grabbing. I am not sure why Kovalev did not respond in kind and dent Wards cup?
In the final round Ward landed at least four low blows, one before the right hand which stunned Kovalev. At the end, I thought Weeks was stopping the contest to take points off Ward, really shocking when I realised he was stopping the fight.
If Weeks was reffing Golota-Bowe, the Foul Pole would have won both fights by KO. I hope that justice prevails and the result over ruled. Cheers. – Philip du Plessis, Gloucester, UK
The chances of the Nevada State Athletic Commission changing the result of Saturday’s light heavyweight championship are slim and none (and Slim left town, as Don King used to say).
I don’t think Weeks had a great night at the office but Ward’s low blows were not as blatant or egregious as the below-the-belt combinations that Andrew Golota landed on Riddick Bowe.
This last bout has left a really sour taste in my mouth and the controversial outcome was predictable early on in the fight. I’ve come to the conclusion that Ward and Kovalev cannot share the ring without creating some kind of officiating controversy. It’s unfortunate because they were the Nos. 1 and 2 light heavyweights going into Saturday’s under-the-radar event, but that’s just the way their boxing styles and ring mentalities mesh.
Ward started to grab in Round 1 & landed a meaty low blow in Round 2 which got a limp warning from a limp ref, Weeks. Weeks chose to ignore all subsequent Ward low blows as well as the grabbing. I thought Weeks was pretty good with warning both fighters to keep it clean in the early rounds of the bout.
I am not sure why Kovalev did not respond in kind and dent Ward’s cup? Maybe he didn’t think that he needed to. Maybe he thought he could win doing what he was doing. Or perhaps he believed that Weeks was biased and would have sternly penalized him if he retaliated in the form of a foul.
At the end, I thought Weeks was stopping the contest to take points off Ward, really shocking when I realised he was stopping the fight. So was Paulie Malignaggi, who was doing commentary for Sky Sports. He wasn’t happy with that stoppage given the respected status of the fighters, the high stakes of the fight and the way the bout had transpired going into Round 8 (to his credit, he had Kovalev up on points). “Let Sergey go out on his shield… you can’t just stop that fight… that was one of the strangest stoppages I’ve ever seen… you couldn’t tell if it was a foul or not… why would you stop the fight? At worst, count him or something… it’s just not fair because you cost people careers… let the fighters decide the outcome… they are world-class fighters…,” Malignaggi said in the moments between the stoppage and HBO’s post-fight interviews. Maybe when Kovalev was doubled over from Ward’s borderline shots and that final low blow he was thinking/waiting for Weeks to break the action to warn or penalize Ward and give him recovery time. He looked out of it to me (in real time), but we’ll never know. Here’s the thing: Kovalev should have known from previous rounds (notably Round 7) that Weeks wasn’t looking to protect him from anything.
What it do, what the business is? Word on the street, Andre known to handle his!!!
And that he did…..big time on Saturday, despite unsportsmanlike words of Kathy Duva at the post fight presser. Say what you will about the borderline blows, it was the colossal right hand that put the Krusher on queer street, and Andre Ward’s sheer determination and resilience that had Krusher on the verge of succumbing before the right hand even landed. I’ve never seen Krusher hurt in any of his fights, but he felt that right hand in his soul. Nor have I seen Dre land such a “Krusher” of a punch.
I wish Max Kellerman would’ve shown Sergey the replay of that Nolan Ryan heater that twisted his head and knees backwards before he started blaming low blows for the stoppage and asking for an immediate rematch. I agreed with Lederman’s synopsis, and thought the Krusher was winning through 6, but fading….fading quickly. Borderline low blows…..yes……head jerking right hand…..absolute game changer, especially for someone that “has no punching power”. Please….Andre Ward imposed his will, the same way Holyfield did against Riddick Bowe part 2, B-Hop did Trinidad and in doing so boosted his marketability enormously. However, p4p, imo, belongs to a Russian bad ass with more syllables in his last name than anyone else on the list. Great fight. – Adam From Hayward
You and I have very different ideas of what a “great fight” is, Adam, but I’m glad you’re in such a good mood following Ward’s shocking stoppage victory over Kovalev.
I gotta give Ward a lot of props for absorbing the heavy shots he took for seven rounds, landing hard shots of his own and finding a way to break Kovalev down and close the show. I know that he elated his loyal supporters and helped some corners of the U.S. boxing industry/media feel more secure, but I wonder if he made any new fans given the lukewarm interest in Saturday’s HBO PPV show and I’m curious to see if his marketability has indeed been boosted.
Despite his age (33) I think the potential is still there for him to become a star or, at the very least, a bona-fide attraction. But for that to happen, he’s got to fight again – a worthy challenger, of course – before the year is over, and follow-up with significant fights against the right fighters in the right places in 2018. Defending his RING title against one of his sanctioning body mandatories, such as the winner of a Nathan Cleverly-Dmitry Bivol fight (for the “regular” WBA belt), on HBO would be a good way to continue 2017. And if he wants to test the waters at cruiserweight, a 200-pound showdown with fellow Creed star Tony Bellew would make for a high-profile fight in the U.K. and the U.S. If he can beat Bellew, he might as well roll the dice against an available cruiserweight titleholder and Oleksandr Usyk (who holds the WBO belt) would pose a formidable challenge. But if Ward were to beat the Ukrainian southpaw, there could be no denying his greatness.
Speaking of Ukrainian southpaws, I think the “Russian bad ass with more syllables in his last name than anyone else on the (P4P) list” you brought up is Vasyl Lomachenko. He’s from Ukraine, bro.
And that he did…..big time on Saturday, despite unsportsmanlike words of Kathy Duva at the post fight presser. “Unsportsmanlike”? Isn’t it more “unsportsmanlike” to hit a man in his nuggets during a boxing match than it is to be upset about a perceived unfair verdict? I don’t blame Duva for being pissed off at the post-fight press conference. If had to deal with Roc Nation’s B.S. and Team Ward’s shenanigans for weeks, then witness my fighter get repeatedly fouled during the bout, and finally be constantly interrupted by obnoxious Ward sycophants during the post-fight press conference, I would have totally lost my mind and gone off Punish-style on some of those knuckle heads.
Say what you will about the borderline blows, it was the colossal right hand that put the Krusher on queer street, and Andre Ward’s sheer determination and resilience that had Krusher on the verge of succumbing before the right hand even landed. I agree that Ward was gradually wearing Kovalev down (although he was taking his share of lumps in the process) and I agree that the right hand in Round 8 was the beginning of the end for Krusher, but who’s to say how much those “borderline blows” (and let’s not pretend that SOME of those shots weren’t clearly below the beltline) took out of him? Have you ever been hit low during a boxing match?
How can you get a KO with a flurry of low blows? – Matthias
That’s what Kathy Duva wants to know.
TONY WEEKS BLEW IT
It’s been a while since I’ve chimed in, but I feel like Tony Weeks laid a major egg. He allowed Ward to hold endlessly. The ending is a shameful refereeing performance for the ages. He had no business stopping the fight. Especially after all the questionable low punches by Ward. He owed Kovalev and the fans at least a count and the opportunity to survive the round.
I’ve always liked and respected Tony Weeks, but on Saturday night he seemed like an amateur referee totally biased towards one side.
Cheers. – Juan in Santa Clara (by way of Miami by way of Caracas, Venezuela)
I’m generally OK with Weeks’ performances and I consider him to be one of the top veteran referees in boxing, but I agree that he didn’t have the best night on Saturday. To be fair, most referees – no matter how sharp and impartial – would have their hands full with Ward and Kovalev. That’s a difficult assignment.
I don’t want to think that Weeks was biased against Kovalev but as the fight progressed, it did seem like he was more tolerant of Ward’s rough stuff than he was with Kovalev’s infractions. I didn’t want to go there (in my head) but given Kovalev’s well-publicized allegations of racism I couldn’t help but wonder if Weeks (who’s African American) was irked with the white Russian (even subconsciously) in the hours following the fight. But then I thought about Mayweather’s first bout with Marcos Maidana, and how he allowed the Argentine slugger to fight a very rough-and-tumble fight against the biggest star in the sport. He wasn’t looking out for the “brotha” in that fight. And I don’t want to accuse him of doing so in this one.
I’ll leave it at this, I’m not personally outraged by the stoppage but I can understand the outrage and frustration that has been expressed by Team Kovalev, Main Events, many fans and some members of the media. I think the low blows and the stoppage could have been handled better by Weeks.
SON OF GOLOTA
What a fight!!! Man, who knew Ward was going to add shades of Andrew Golota to his already potent John Ruiz style??? That’s what I call making an adjustment!
Clearly, Team Ward studied tape of Kovalev and realized his testicles don’t have much punch resistance. Tony Weeks did an excellent job saving Kovalev at the end because who knows how many more left hooks to the balls he would’ve let Ward land. I know you dislike this word, Doug, but Kovalev’s weak testies were “exposed”! Then again, I’m not one to talk seeing that my 5-year-old son recently dropped me when he threw his Nerf football at my privates. Where the heck was Tony Weeks when I needed him?
I have yet to read or hear anyone mention that Ward’s fight changing right hand landed moments after he hit Kovalev with the first low blow of the 8th Round (which was at least his 3rd of the fight), but that’s okay because the finishing three shots to the nuts were clearly P4P stuff! Even Roy Jones and Max Kellerman said so! Legal/semi-legal/blatantly illegal, Son of Golota (aka The Almost as Quiet Man) always finds a way to win – P4P #1!!!!!!!!!!
On a less sarcastic note, thanks for the mailbags. – WC
And thank you for the laughs. I wonder how many readers thought you were serious for at the start of your facetious cheer-leading/back-handed rant?
I’m sure the back-and-forth battles between Ward supporters and Kovalev fans that raged on social media after the fight will continue in the Disqus comments below this column, and those of us who are ready to move on will probably have to tolerate the online pissing contest (which will no doubt become racial charged) under Friday’s mailbag. But I’m hoping that we can all get over it and focus on the many excelling fight cards that are coming up in the next 12-13 weeks.