In another fight that can be called a total robbery, IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Andre “SOG” Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) was given credit for an 8th round knockout after he hit Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) with 3 successive low blows while he was trapped against the ropes at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
(Photo Credits: David Spagnolo/Main Events)
Referee Tony Weeks failed to see the low blows despite the fact that he was standing directly in front of the two fighters. Weeks then stopped the fight when Kovalev bent over, clutching his groin. It looked like a really bad stoppage by Weeks, who had also had ignored a low blow that Ward had hit Kovalev with in the previous round.
Slow motion replay showed that Kovalev was hit low by Ward in the 7th and 3 times in the 8th. Weeks didn’t do anything about any of them. It was unfortunate the referee blew the call and failed to see the low blows. It cheapens Ward’s victory. When you win like that, it looks bad, especially when Ward’s first victory over Kovalev was viewed as a robbery as well by a lot of boxing fans.
Ward was mostly holding and moving around the ring for the first 7 rounds. In the 8th, Ward hurt Kovalev with a right hand that had him holding on. However, instead of properly targeting Kovalev’s body, Ward proceeded to hit him with 3 successive low blows that doubled him over against the ropes. The last low blow from Ward looked extremely low. Weeks then stopped the fight, giving Ward a knockout win.
The ringside crowd was stunned into silence, there was almost no cheering at the stoppage, as they had seen the low blows themselves and they didn’t view it as an occasion to cheer. The referee Tony Weeks had made a blunder by stopping the fight instead of penalizing Ward and giving Kovalev a 5 minute rest period. Weeks had also let a low blow from Ward go unpunished in the 7th. Instead of taking a point off or giving Kovalev a breather to recover from the low blow, Weeks told him to continue fighting. It was odd to see.
The official time of the stoppage was at 2:29 of round 8. Ward was ahead at the time of the stoppage on two of the judges’ scorecards67-66, 67-66, while the third had Kovalev ahead by the score 68-65. Boxing 247 had Kovalev ahead by the score 68-65. Ward was getting beaten to the punch by Kovalev, and controlled by his jabs and power shots.
Ward was clearly losing the fight going into the 6th round. Like in the previous fight with Kovalev last November, Ward started to clinch and wrestle more in the 6th. Kovalev continued to dominate, bloodying Ward’s nose and swelling up both eyes.
Kovalev was showing no signs of fading through the 7th round. He looked strong and in control of the fight.
There’s no word about whether there will be a rematch between Kovalev and Ward. Kovalev obviously should appeal the stoppage with the sanctioning bodies, because if Ward decides on and defend his title against somebody else, he can do so. There wasn’t a rematch clause for tonight’s fight. The sanctioning bodies can force a rematch. That doesn’t mean that Ward will give it to Kovalev though, because he’s talking about wanting to move up to cruiserweight or heavyweight now.
There’s no one left at light heavyweight for Ward to fight at this point for paydays. Will a third fight between Ward and Kovalev sell on HBO PPV? I doubt it. With the way the first 2 fights have ended with Ward winning controversially, I don’t see the boxing fans wanting to purchase a third fight. How can you trust that the fight won’t end in another questionable win after the first two fights. Kovalev should move on and forget about Ward.
If Ward stays at 175, he would need to fight Artur Beterbiev or Dmitry Bivol. Those are really tough fighters. Ward took punishment tonight. He might run out of luck against either of those guys. Those aren’t big money fights, but they’ve both very dangerous ones for Ward.