Ward stuns Ko­valev to claim light-heavy crown

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Sergey Ko­valev ac­cused Amer­i­can judges of favour­ing An­dre Ward af­ter the Rus­sian suf­fered a con­tro­ver­sial de­feat by de­ci­sion in their world lightheavy­weight ti­tle bat­tle on Satur­day.

Many neu­trals at ring­side be­lieved Ko­valev who scored the fight’s only knock­down when he sent Ward to the can­vas in the sec­ond round had done enough to re­tain his WBA, WBO and IBF crowns. But the three US judges scor­ing an at­tri­tional bout at Las Ve­gas’s T-Mo­bile Arena all gave more weight to Ward’s dis­ci­plined dis­play over the clos­ing stages, when he landed scor­ing blows as the pre­vi­ously un­beaten Ko­valev tired.

All three judges scored it 114-113 in Ward’s favour, im­prov­ing the 2004 Olympic cham­pion’s record to 31-0 with 15 knock­outs. Ko­valev how­ever was dis­traught at the loss, which he sug­gested was in­flu­enced by his na­tion­al­ity.

“It’s the wrong de­ci­sion. But I don’t want to give my opin­ion. Every­body is here, wit­nesses are here, every­body saw what hap­pened,” he said. “He got maybe a few rounds. But not the whole fight. I kept con­trol. I lost maybe three rounds. Look at his face and look at my face.

“I’m a guest here in the USA and he’s a lo­cal, and all the judges are from the USA. I agree they sup­port their boxer but hon­estly, this is sport. Don’t make it like politics.”

The sta­tis­tics from a grip­ping 12-rounder re­flected the close­ness of the bat­tle.

Ko­valev landed more punches, 126-116, and more power punches, 78 to 61. Ward how­ever, who stepped up a divi­sion to take on Ko­valev landed more jabs, 55-48.

‘WE GOT THE BELTS’

Ward was un­fazed by Ko­valev’s griev­ances. “I can’t do any­thing about con­tro­versy. I thought I won the fight,” Ward said. “It was a close fight. You never know how judges are go­ing to see it. But take noth­ing away from Ko­valev. “In a tight fight, he’s go­ing to feel like he got robbed, I’d have been been dis­ap­pointed. But we got the belts tonight.” Ward, mean­while, was sat­is­fied at the way he came back af­ter his sec­ond-round knock­down.

“I knew it was go­ing to be a tough fight but you never an­tic­i­pate get­ting dropped,” he said. “That was the first time in my ca­reer I got dropped. I’m pleased with the way I re­sponded.” The tight na­ture of the con­test makes a re­match al­most in­evitable.

Asked if he would face Ward again, Ko­valev replied: “Sure-and I’ll kick his a**.”

Ear­lier, Ko­valev had quickly made his su­pe­rior punch­ing power tell, rock­ing the chal­lenger with two stiff jabs that ap­peared to star­tle Ward to­wards the end of the first round.

Ward was soon in trou­ble in the sec­ond round, with Ko­valev pierc­ing his gloves at will with sting­ing jabs. With 40 sec­onds left in the round, Ko­valev dumped ward on the floor, soft­en­ing him up with a left jab be­fore a short chop­ping right landed flush on his chin.

Ward scram­bled to re­cover his senses and was cling­ing on for the bell. Ko­valev had the bet­ter of the ex­changes in the third round, but Ward did well to steady the ship with­out trou­bling the Rus­sian. Ward man­aged to frus­trate Ko­valev in the fourth, fight­ing in clinches and at­tempt­ing to keep his ri­val off bal­ance.

But the sta­tis­tics told the story af­ter four rounds, with Ko­valev land­ing 22 power shots to Ward’s seven. Ward, how­ever, re­fused to buckle and en­joyed his best pe­riod of the fight through the fifth and sixth, stick­ing and mov­ing to score con­sis­tently. An­other good round in the sev­enth, with Ward con­nect­ing with three stiff jabs, drew loud cheers, but Ko­valev was still land­ing shots. As the fight moved into the later rounds, Ward ap­peared to be in­creas­ingly com­fort­able, keep­ing his dis­tance and un­cork­ing sev­eral en­ergy-sap­ping body-shots to the Rus­sian.

— AFP

LAS VE­GAS: An­dre Ward and Sergey Ko­valev ex­change punches dur­ing their WBO/IBF/WBA Light Heavy­weight Cham­pi­onship fight at T-Mo­bile Arena on Satur­day in Las Ve­gas, Ne­vada.

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