Before the fight, many fans questioned if this “Pound for Pound” billed bout would live up to the hype and in most aspects, it did not disappoint. Although the fight came down to a controversial decision in favor of Ward, it was a very competitive and entertaining fight between two fighters at the top of their game.
Not surprisingly, both men felt they won the fight, but Andre Ward was given the edge on the scorecards–all three judges scored the bout 114-113.
The announcement of “And the New” was greeted with boos throughout the arena.
Understandably, at the post-fight press conference, Kovalev and his team expressed their disappoint.
“Thanks for your support. I am happy about people’s’ opinion, but I think I won this fight,” said Kovalev.
“Of course, I am disappointed but life is still good. The fight was more clearer than the decision. I don’t agree with the decision.”
“Everybody saw what happened. Look at his face, look at my face,” said Kovalev.
“I didn’t think I won the fight because I hurt him first but because I kept controlling the fight, but he kept running from me. Let’s make the second fight!”
Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events who promotes Kovalev, also expressed her disappointment with the decision.
“I feel like I have mixed emotions. We had a great fight. It’s what boxing needed, but we did not deserve this decision,” said Duva.
“It’s a shame two guys fought their hearts out but this is not the decision. I am pissed like I was when Pernell got robbed against Chavez.”
Duva also made it clear that Main Events and Kovalev are eager to engage in an immediate rematch.
“We have the right for an immediate rematch and we will get them in the ring. It will be immediate,” said Duva.
Kovalev suffered the first loss of his career on Saturday night and also lost his WBA, WBO, and IBF Light Heavyweight titles in the process. The answer to what’s next for Sergey Kovalev seems pretty obvious right now.
When Kovalev-Ward was being negotiated and the contract was signed by both fighters, a rematch clause was included. Duva has already made several statements in regards to the rematch clause and it is clear that Kovalev and his team have every intention to immediately exercise the rematch clause.
Duva has indicated that Ward does not have the ability to take an interim fight once the clause is exercised–she plans to advise Roc Nation Sports by Monday of Kovalev’s intention of a rematch.
“The only way it [Ward vs. Kovalev 2] won’t happen immediately is if we both agree that it won’t be, and since we don’t plan to do that, it will be immediate,” said Duva.
In a rematch between Kovalev and Ward, one can imagine that Kovalev would come out even more aggressive than the first fight. Kovalev did not hold back in expressing his disgust with the “politics” of boxing–and it is obvious that he would not want to leave the rematch decision up to the judges again.
While Kovalev would likely be looking for the knockout, Ward would probably stick to his defensive game plan in hopes to avoid being dazed and knocked down again.
As of right now it seems Kovalev-Ward 2 is very likely. Surely, given the excitement of the first fight, few boxing fans would be disappointed in a rematch between these two world class fighters. It would be another pay-per-view event and after the controversy of the first fight, it would likely be even more appealing to fans.
But, if somehow the rematch doesn’t happen or doesn’t happen as soon as Kovalev wants it to, who else could the heavy hitter face?
In all honesty, in the Light heavyweight division right now, Adonis Stevenson is probably Kovalev’s next best opponent. He is a solid option because he has the WBC Light heavyweight belt. Though Stevenson has his eyes on Ward for a unification bout, a fight between Stevenson and Kovalev would also be very interesting and is something most boxing fans have been wanting to see for years.
With all of that being said, Kovalev deserves a rematch after the close decision loss to Ward this past weekend. Kovalev should be given the chance to redeem himself and Ward should be given the chance to prove all of the naysayers wrong and show that he deserves to be ranked No. 1 in the pound-for-pound rankings.
In the next couple of weeks, we should find out if a Kovalev versus Ward rematch will happen. For the sport of boxing and for the sake of fans all around the world, let’s hope it happens.
All photos by Al Bello/Getty Images