Last Saturday, June 17 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Andre “S.O.G.” Ward improved his record to 32-0, 16 KOs stopping Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) in the eighth round. With this victory, Ward successfully defended his all three of his Light Heavyweight titles–WBA, WBO and IBF, for the first time.
Some would wonder how a TKO victory could be so controversial, but just like the first fight, many people are saying Kovalev got the short end of the stick once again. Obviously, there is an argument from both sides whether the stoppage was appropriate or not.
At the post-fight press conference, Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, who promotes Kovalev, stated that she will be filing a protest with the Nevada State Athletic Commission following Ward’s victory.
“I’m still having a hard time processing what I just witnessed,” said Duva. “I saw someone who should have been disqualified get his hand held up. [Kovalev] got hit with three low blows, four actually, in the last round. We asked the commission for an instant replay analysis, and they did not give it to us. We’ll file a protest on Monday.”
It is still unclear if in fact the shots were low blows, but the argument remains that Tony Weeks should not have called the fight because he had not fallen to his knees or been counted out. Kovalev expressed that he wanted to continue to fight, but Weeks had already made his decision to call the fight.
Following the fight, Kovalev articulated yet again his desire for another rematch despite taking his second loss to Ward in the past seven months.
“He’s really lucky, ‘Son of Judges’. He didn’t hurt me. I got tired, but I still wanted to fight. It’s boxing. I could have continued fighting, but I don’t understand what happened. Why did Tony Weeks stop the fight? [Ward] punched me low blow already a few times during the fight… He didn’t let me continue to fight. It was an illegal stop. I believed and trusted Tony Weeks, but he did a wrong decision in stopping the fight.”
With yet another “controversial” win for Andre Ward, what is next for S.O.G.?
Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev 3
Is there a possibility of a Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev 3? In all honesty, it is very unlikely. Ward was not interested in responding to either Kathy Duva’s or Kovalev’s comments during the post-fight press conference.
“I really don’t have a lot to say about whatever they said,” said Ward. “Whatever the excuses were this time, I just don’t have the energy.”
Michael Yormark, president and chief of branding and strategy for Roc Nation, also told ESPN on Sunday, “Andre won two fights. First Main Events, Kathy Duva and Sergey Kovalev blamed the judges. Now it’s the referee stopping the fight and low blows. Enough is enough. Andre beat him and beat him bad in Round 8. Fact is two fights and two wins. Andre is ready for another challenge as he defends his pound for pound title and can’t wait to get back to work.”
So, who should Ward face next if the possibility of a third fight against Kovalev looks as if it’s not even an option at this point?
At one time, it was Andre Ward’s goal to prove that he was the best 175-pound fighter. A fight against WBC Light Heavyweight champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) in a unification bout would make sense for both teams.
Ward needs momentum and with a win against Stevenson, he would easily be recognized as the best Light Heavyweight and the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in boxing right now (aside from what happens against Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin). It would be a good fight for Stevenson because he hasn’t had a well-known opponent since knocking out Chad Dawson in 2013.
Though Ward would have to be careful with Stevenson’s power, Ward would likely be able to outbox him. Ward is extremely smart in the ring and has been more active recently against stiffer competition. This would be a good test for both men.
In the Light Heavyweight division, this is the only matchup that is compatible right now. Nathan Cleverly has already been crushed by Kovalev. Badou Jack hasn’t really been tested at 175 yet and Artur Beterbiev and Eledier Alvarez won’t bring the payday that Ward is looking for.
Cruiserweight & Heavyweight Options
“Cruiserweight and Heavyweight is definitely an option. Is it easy? Absolutely not. Is it a risk? Absolutely. Are people going to think you’re crazy? Absolutely,” said Virgil Hunter, Ward’s trainer following Saturday night’s fight.
Ward could move up in weight to either Cruiserweight or Heavyweight to test the waters. Possible matchups in the Cruiserweight division include a more realistic bout against Tony Bellew or more competitive and challenging fights against champions Oleksandr Usyk, Mairis Briedis, Murat Gassiev or Denis Lebedev.
A fight against Anthony Joshua, the IBO, WBA and IBF Heavyweight Champion would make for a very interesting bout. This would be a very challenging fight for Ward.
Though Ward would be the quicker, more experienced fighter–Joshua is 19-0 with 19 knockouts. This would be a very risky fight for Ward; he would have to take a defensive approach to this fight to come out victorious.
Though Ward sounds hopeful about several of these fights taking place and taking on the challenge, he did explain after Saturday night’s fight that he is planning to take a vacation and spend time with his family.
Fingers crossed he doesn’t take too much time off though. It will be interesting to see what Andre Ward and Virgil Hunter decide is the correct next step.