On Saturday night, November 19, from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) squeaked out a unanimous decision victory over Light heavyweight world champion, Sergey Kovalev (30-1, 26 KOs) on HBO Pay-Per-View.
Ward’s victory over Kovalev came by a very thin margin, as all three judges scored the bout 114-113. This victory has allowed for Ward to keep his undefeated record and also has won him the WBA, IBF and WBO title belts.
Upon becoming the new world champion, Ward discussed his emotions. “This is a beautiful thing,” said Ward. “We did it, baby. It’s a lot of hardware.”
As he was presented with the belts, Ward tried to put this new accomplishment into words. “Surreal! This is what I set out to do,” said Ward.
“Now I’m a 5X World Champion in 2 weight classes. Man, it’s amazing!”
Ward’s excitement however was met with great animosity from Kovalev’s side who felt they had clearly won the fight.
“It’s the wrong decision. I don’t want to say my opinion… The witnesses are here. They saw it,” said Kovalev.
“It’s my job. It was a fight of my life. I am disappointed in the judges’ decision,” said Kovalev as he expressed his disappointment to HBO’s Max Kellerman after the fight.
Also highly disappointed was Kovalev’s promoter, Kathy Duva of Main Events. “My impression was that was the wrong decision,” said Duva.
The contract signed by both fighters to make the fight happen months ago contained a rematch clause that could now be exercised by Kovalev.
“We’re going to get him back in the ring as soon as we can and right this wrong,” said Duva, who explained that she planned to act on the rematch clause as soon as possible.
As the winner, it seems likely that Ward will be held to the rematch clause, but he does have other options as well. One of those options is WBC Light Heavyweight champion, Adonis Stevenson, who called Ward out via Twitter shortly after Ward defeated Kovalev.
Congratulations to @andreward . Now it’s time to unify the titles. #AdonisStevenson#Superman
— Adonis Stevenson (@AdonisSuperman) November 20, 2016
Kovalev immediately expressed desire for a rematch and believes that a second fight would go much differently. “Of course, I want a rematch, and I will kick his ass,” said Kovalev. “I want to show good boxing.”
Ward’s manager, James Prince, on the other hand doesn’t seem anxious to jump right into a rematch.
“All things are possible,” said Prince after the fight (via the LA Times).
“We’re going to soak in this one we have here now. We’re never scared, you know what I mean? We know what it is. When the time and place comes in, we’ll start talking about that.”
Prince also made it clear that they will be in control of negotiations if a second fight does happen.
“We’re driving the ship now. [Kovalev’s team] drove it the first time. We’re behind the wheel on this one,” said Prince.
Ward’s promoter, Michael Yormark of Roc Nation Sports, was also pretty elusive in regards to a rematch with Kovalev.
“It’s too early to discuss a rematch at this point,” said Yormark. “Andre will enjoy the moment, spend time with his family and, obviously, embrace those three belts. We’ll decide where we go from here over the next weeks.”
A rematch between Ward and Kovalev would be another pay-per-view event and would surely gain both sides a lucrative payday. Based on the current boxing calendar and recovery time it seems likely that a rematch would take approximately four-to-six months if and when it were to happen.
“Of course, I would do a rematch,” said Ward. “I am not going to negotiate a fight right now. I will go home and relax and see what’s next.”
The next few weeks should clear up what is next for Andre Ward, but it seems a rematch with Sergey Kovalev will be highly likely.
Photos by Al Bello/Getty Images