The low blow row continues as Pound for Pound number one Andre Ward is lambasted in some quarters for what was a clinical beatdown of a world class fighter in Sergey Kovalev.
Several reviews of the fight by the WBN team have culminated in championing an amazing fighter using his superb boxing brain to deter and defeat one of the best light-heavyweights of recent times.
Not only should Ward be put on a pedestal as the best boxer in the planet, but the American should NOT face any criticism for what was one single questionable blow (at the very end) and eagerness to end the fight by experienced referee Tony Weeks.
The encounter began with Kovalev doing exactly what he planned, to jump on Ward and try to end the contest early. Three rounds in though, and a bruised Ward was clearly losing the fight until a change of tactics saw the ‘S.O.G’ completely dominate from then on.
Rounds four, five, six and seven were a masterclass in how to deal with a bigger, stronger puncher as Ward picked his shots, countered and frustrated Kovalev into virtually giving up on regaining his belts.
There were a couple of sickening body shots towards the end from Ward, which could have been argued were borderline but clearly hurt Kovalev, although it was a head shot in the eighth round that signalled the beginning of the stoppage.
Kovalev was cowering on a couple of occasions before THAT final blow which Weeks may well have been able to call low, but ultimately the fight was on the verge of being ended by Ward’s exceptional fighting skills.
Weeks CLEARLY ended the contest too early, something nobody would disagree with, but some fans labelling Ward with a ‘low blow’ and ‘cheat’ tag are so far wide of the mark.
Ward threw three shots that could be argued low, two of which hit the belt of Kovalev, who didn’t help things by having a sponsorship logo across his groin. This would certainly have hampered the view of some, including the official who has already admitted he had a bad night at the office.
The last punch, had it the contest continued, would not even have been a point off in most bouts, so those clamouring to the fact Ward won unfairly are taking too much credit away from the victor.
It was a marvellous performance from Ward, especially considering he had previously moved up in weight to challenge the dominant champion at the higher weight, so taking anything away from the 33 year-old is a serious injustice.
The two-weight ruler is the number one fighter in the world by a clear margin at this moment in time and Ward’s ambition to be rated as such should not be questioned by the early halting of a fight on the certain verge of being over anyway.
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay