The biggest fight of the year in boxing is over and it crowned a new lightweight champion in controversial fashion. The decision was close but unanimous in a 114-113 nod to Oakland’s Andre Ward, leaving many fans stunned.
Why was the call so controversial? Because Sergey Kovalev knocked Ward down early in the second round and many in the crowd and on twitter thought that should have been the difference in the match tilted in Kovalev’s favor.
Kovalev knocks Ward down round 2. Kovalev in total control pic.twitter.com/qYJBa2hibu
— KO KINGS (@KOKINGS4) November 20, 2016
However, the judges, who were all American, decided that Ward’s comeback bid was more impressive than Kovalev’s knock down. Ward did succeed in hitting Kovalev with numerous body shots that wore him down and made him begin to look tired. Ward was also able to connect left-handed hooks against Kovalev late in the match which ultimately cost him the fight.
Commentator Max Kellerman interviewed both boxers after the match, and although Ward had a surprised look on his face initially after the match was announced, when interviewed he said he wasn’t surprised at all and expected it to be a close, hard-fought battle. Kovalev, on the other hand, was noticeably disappointed and shocked at the outcome. He stated that the fans and everyone watching could tell who the real victor was and already wants a rematch against Ward.
— OurSports (@OurSportshow) November 20, 2016
Kovalev is not the only one in that boat. Although the decision was controversial, many also believe Ward deserved the victory, which in Kellerman’s words, could have gone either way. With the fight being so hard-fought, and with Ward’s great comeback, I, too, can understand how the decision would be so close. But based on the eye test, it did seem that Kovalev may have been robbed. Of course, I am no boxing expert and the stats do prove that Ward was a more efficient boxer – and that is indisputable.
— MichaelRapaport (@MichaelRapaport) November 20, 2016
— Metta World Peace (@MettaWorldPeace) November 20, 2016
So did the judges have an American bias against Kovalev and therefore named Ward the victor? That is certainly a reasonable assumption. However, one could also argue just as strongly that Ward’s championship grit, body punches, and efficiency are what won him the lightweight belt deservedly. What is not controversial, though, is that everyone wants to see a rematch and after the fight, Ward said he would be open to it.