Boxers, Trainers & Pundits
Andre Ward just deserved his success over Sergey Kovalev, say The Panel
Malignaggi, Macklin, Smith, Bellew and Nelson
Last Updated: 20/11/16 10:46am
Andre Ward was a heavy favourite but in the end the unanimous decision didn't tell the fully story of his light-heavyweight win over Sergey Kovalev.
The American suffered a knockdown in the second round and the Russian showed the sort of intelligence many didn't expect and the technical and tenacious encounter was as close as the outcome.
So with two of The Panel sat ringside in Las Vegas and the other three watching closely from the Sky Sports studio, here's what they had to say...
I thought they both fought a tactically desirable fight but I had Ward ahead. He landed the better shots, he did the better work. Listen, Kovalev did good work too. It was tit-for-tat but Andre bossed the fight. In the later part of the fight he was bossing it physically and you could see Kovalev almost tiring on the inside, while Andre you could see had a little more left.
Kovalev deserves some respect too. He was up on the ropes to get some appreciation from the crowd. He deserves a hand too. This was a close fight and I wouldn't mind the rematch at all. I have to disagree with some of the media guys because all they do is score pressure - even it it's ineffective. You have to make sure it's effective.
It was a razor-thin decision, but then again every round was razor-thin. I don't really see how anyone dominated the fight. Every round was close but I thought Andre was landing the better jabs. If someone said they'd given it to Kovalev by one or two rounds I wouldn't really have argued, I just thought Ward won the fight. I had it 115-113 and it was a very, very close fight.
You know sometimes early on in a fight - when Kovalev scored the knockdown - what happens is a lot of people can only look at what he's doing and see what punches he lands but Andre Ward came back, won the third, won the fourth, then the fifth - not big - but he won the rounds and got back into the game.
I had Ward by three. It was a very close fight and thankfully all three judges scored it that way and you can't call it robbery. It was just a very close fight and could've gone either way, depending on how you scored those rounds. You couldn't have argued by two rounds either way, but for me, I though Ward did the better work and landed the better shots throughout the fight.
Kovalev was always going to land big, eye-catching shots and shots that would grab the attention of people because of the power he has and when a fighter has a knockdown, you lean towards him. But Ward did great to come back from that and win the next three rounds. It was very subjective scoring but from where I saw it, Ward just did enough.
It's tough because on my scorecard I had it 114-114 but looking back I had the fifth down as an even round so it was one of them. For me, it could've gone either way. I'll give Ward great credit for getting up after that second-round knockdown; you're three points behind after two rounds but to show character and the fortitude he's got to get through that fight was unbelievable.
The big point everyone is missing is the inside game that we all thought that Andre Ward was better at but, as Paulie Malignaggi said, Kovalev has been doing this inside grapling stuff for years and he nullified Andre Ward, shut him down, tied him up on the inside and roughed him up. He got him in so many headlocks, but ultimately I do think the wrestling tired Kovalev out.
I actually had it down as a draw at the end, it was that close. It took Andre Ward a few rounds to get used to the power and the surprising speed of Kovalev. Initially I thought it would be the other way round, when Ward would be the one in front halfway through the fight and then Kovalev would get desperate.
But you know what, it was a complete role reversal, so in the middle part of the fight, Ward was able to find his comfort zone, get comfortable and get the pretty shots off. He got comfortable with the pace of Kovalev and that's what got him back into the fight.