sports gazette

Son of God The Saviour of American Boxing

Published: 20 Nov 2016

Saturday night American Andre 'Son of God' Ward, became the new Unified Light Heavyweight champion of the world consolidating his position as his country’s finest boxer.

The stench of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao still haunts the boxing scene despite their fight taking place some over 18 months ago. Pacquiao's recent insistence that the two have met behind closed doors to discuss a rematch has made a negligible impact on boxing forums throughout the world.

Saturday night undefeated pound for pound kings Andre Ward, 31, and Sergey Kovalev, 33, had the chance to freshen the air of boxing and finally bury the ghosts of Pacquiao vs. Mayweather.

Since the departure of Floyd Mayweather, boxing, and specifically America, has been searching for his replacement as the sport’s leading light and figurehead.

Despite being polarising in character to Mayweather, Andre Ward’s stellar Olympic background and perfect professional record make him an ideal candidate to step into his shoes.

Heading into Saturday's showdown, many neutrals favoured a Kovalev victory with his killer instinct a breath of fresh air following Mayweather’s attritional dominance.

With so much at stake it was unsurprising that Saturday’s fight proved an incredibly close contest.

After a cagey opening round, Kovalev stamped his authority in the second as Ward misread a one-two, walking onto the second punch of the combination and taking a knee for only the second time in his career.

Despite being dropped in the second round, Ward showed supreme ring savvy to not only clear his head but to also come out and dominate the third round.

The longer the fight progressed, the more comfortable the American became finding his timing and range, despite being behind on the cards and having a shorter reach.

Kovalev was consistently the more active and aggressive fighter. However, his shots were no longer landing cleanly, and his inability to cut off the ring essentially cost him down the stretch.

Rather than eliminating Ward’s space, the Russian was chasing him about the ring enabling the Californian to set his feet and fire off the cleaner punches.

Ward’s victory was not only incisive but also incredibly brave. Kovalev’s outrageous 81% knockout ratio underlines his genuinely terrifying punching power.

Kovalev’s outrageous 81% knockout ratio underlines his genuinely terrifying punching power.

Ward has only twice campaigned as Light Heavyweight and is more recognisable at the smaller Super Middle Weight division.

Despite being the smaller man and being knocked down early in the fight, Ward was still able to outbox Kovalev from a critical range. He didn't fight on the back foot at range nor did he depend on ‘dirty boxing' at close range.

Instead, Ward bravely sat in the pocket well within harm's way utilising his superior boxing technique to land the cleaner blows, something the judges must have had in mind at the final bell.

As the fight concluded most talk ringside related to the contrasting scorecards generated by pundits and journalists alike.

As the scores were called there was an air of dissatisfaction amongst the arena. While Ward is the ‘hometown' boxer, he is not desperately popular, in part due to this ugly style and sheer lack of activity.

In contrast, Kovalev was the man fighting on foreign soil, but his explosive style has earned him an enormous American fan base and their disappointment at the unanimous decision was immediately apparent.

Statistics will show that the Russian was the busier boxer and it could easily be argued that a draw or a Kovalev victory would have been a fairer result. However, for once boxing was the real victor with two pound for pound greats meeting at the peak of their powers, putting on a great show and all but guaranteeing a rematch.

^ Back to top ^