When the fight was stopped, the scorecards showed Andre Ward as a close winner. Based on the direction the fight was going, the scores were spot on.
I think it’s unnecessary to nitpick, and more candid to say that Andre Ward was simply better than Sergey Kovalev this past Saturday night in Las Vegas, NV. He was better in most ways, and it showed early in the fight. If we start disputing the fashion in which, or the reason as to why Tony Weeks stopped the fight, I am afraid the fantasy of the “what if” will skew and mottle what the fight was actually beginning to look like. Had Tony Weeks not stopped the fight, chances are, at least based on the direction the bout was going, Kovalev would have lost in a much more devastating fashion, possibly with knockdowns, or even being knocked out as a result.
In the first fight, Andre Ward was able to sway the judges mostly due to his stamina; as Kovalev was starting to slow down, Ward was efficiently gaining momentum. The first fight was uncomfortably close. Having said that, what happened in the first fight, slowly transitioned and looked like a carry-over into the second one. This time around Ward started off the fight better than the first one, and due to his persistent body work in the earlier rounds, wore Kovalev down. Sergey did very well in the first few rounds, but by round four, team Kovalev, alongside many watching the fight, knew that Sergey would not endure the fight at the same pace. The fantasy of a lucky punch was starting to look like the only way that Kovalev could walk out a winner.
Kovalev’s last moments in that fight were a mix of self preservation, pain, and confusion. He got hit clean with an overhand right, which was the punch that sent Kovalev into the survival mode. Shortly thereafter, the shots that looked to be either on the lower end of the beltline, or below, bent Kovalev in what looked to be ruthless pain. Tony Weeks, without any hesitation, waved off a world championship fight without giving Kovalev the opportunity to recover and try to live to tell the tale of the eighth round.
Was this stoppage impulsive? You bet it was. Especially for a veteran referee Tony Weeks. Everything about this fight should have prevented Weeks from jumping in and ending the when he did; the status of the fight as well as the class of the fighters themselves. The question of whether another, a third fight should take place, does not have a straightforward answer. On one hand, Andre Ward was good in the first and significantly better in the second. He showed that he could keep up the pace, and force Kovalev to miss more than he is used to. On the other hand, the negative aspect bloomed as a result of the rematch: many boxing fans do not acknowledge the win as an authentic one for Andre Ward.
Wresting for a rematch may certainly be a priority for team Kovalev, but a waste of time for team Ward. If they are forced to meet yet again, the third fight may look very similar to the second one, with a gloomy end result for Sergey.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission is going to review the tapes and the statements from team Kovalev, and issue their decision sometime soon. It is indeed very intriguing to see what they conclude.