Archive for the ‘Fight Reports’ Category

Ward 2

Photo Credit: Hogan Photos

Sergey Kovalev promised to end Andre Ward’s career. He vowed that the man he renamed “Son of Judges” wouldn’t get the chance to be saved by favorable scorecards. Today, it is the Krusher’s future that is in doubt following a dramatic and controversial eighth round stoppage loss at the Mandalay Bay. The tagline going into the fight was “no excuses,” and yet less than 24 hours removed, Kovalev and his promoter Main Events are preparing to protest the verdict and prolong the war of words between the camps. Unfortunately for Kovalev, the narrative that played out last night in the ring coupled with historical precedent does not bode well for his hopes of a reversal.

The rounds preceding the knockout showed both men were well-prepared. Ward did not repeat the sluggish start of the first bout; he looked for left hook counters upstairs to stifle Kovalev’s rushes and body work within clinches. Kovalev, now respectful of Ward’s ability, emphasized a higher work rate to counter Ward’s accuracy and inside work.

The fight was a nip-tuck affair with neither man jumping out to significant advantages. If Ward landed a good body shot, Kovalev was right back with several hard, clean jabs. If Kovalev got in a sneaky right, Ward returned the favor by getting right in his chest to maul and work the body.

As with any Ward fight, this wasn’t a clean affair. The clinching resulted in headlocks and rabbit punches from Kovalev, and borderline to clearly low blow shots from Ward. However, Ward was the more comfortable man in this domain — Kovalev’s complaints were more demonstrative and with expectations that he’d be given time to recover.

After seven rounds, my scorecard reflected an even fight (67-67), but not my eyes. Kovalev had noticeably become more labored in his breathing. His punches lacked its usual snap while Ward, never a huge puncher even at his prime weight of 168, looked more powerful and determined.

A right cross in the eighth badly hurt Kovalev. His attempts to hold were shrugged off with additional body shots. Kovalev sagged into the ropes, where Ward pounced on his doubled over opponent with shots that ranged from borderline to low. Assessing Kovalev’s body meek body language and no return punches, referee Tony Weeks opted to stop the contest. There was no protest from the former champion. 

This brings us to the big controversy of the night. Was Kovalev robbed by the non-call on the low-blow? His promoter, Kathy Duva, seems to think so. In the post-fight circus of a press conference, she was absolutely livid.

***

Here’s the big problem that Duva and Kovalev will run into on Monday. There isn’t boxing commission in the world that would have the balls to reverse a decision in a fight of this magnitude. Look no further than the undercard bout against Rigondeaux and Flores (where referee Vic Drakulich and the commissioner look absolutely terrified to make the call between a DQ, No Contest or KO).

Even more daunting is the last time Main Events filed a low blow protest. In 2011, the company was promoting Zab Judah, in the midst of one of his many comebacks, this time against Amir Khan. Judah was thoroughly dominated in every round. In the fifth, a bloody Zab was grappling with Khan in a clinch and bent forward, much like Kovalev last night. Khan fired a borderline shot that resulted in the KO. Main Events filed a protest with Nevada, the WBA and IBF that went on deaf ears to the point we never heard another word about it.

Like any sport, boxing is predicated on momentum. In basketball, teams that go on runs seem to get all the calls while the losing team’s complaints are often ignored. If your getting hands placed on you in the ring, your complaints will come off as looking for a way out, leading to a referee making a quick call like we saw last night. It’s also important to note that unintentional fouls caused by the fighters movements are usually not acknowledged. Case in point — if I’m constantly bending down and away from an opponent, resulting in boderline rabbit shots to the top/side of the head, I’m going to be the one the ref will admonish for causing the “illegal” blow. Check out the KO years back of Glen Johnson on a crouching Allan Green who complains of a rabbit punch.

***

There are certain realities you need to accept when you face certain fighters. Against Bernard Hopkins, be prepared for a night of mauling, sneaky low blows and butts. Evander Holyfield? Again, watch the butts. After 12 rounds against Andre Ward last November, Sergey Kovalev said he was prepared for the rematch, going as far as to say Ward was overrated and he had trained too hard. But last night showed that the Krusher had neither the mental nor physical ability to handle a rough and tumble fight where he couldn’t be the frontrunner.

“I was breathing, he was breathing, but I’m used to working tired,” said Ward. “I’m comfortable being uncomfortable; that’s how we work, that’s how we train. When I saw him put his arms on the ropes in between the rounds – I watch all that stuff – that’s trouble for him. I just needed to keep being smart… I think it was plain to see that I broke him mentally and physically.”

Consider the Ward-Kovalev rivalry closed.

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Ward_Kovalev_rematch

Starting at 7 p.m. ET, you can live stream the untelevised undercard of the big rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev. The two hours are scheduled to include the following preliminary bouts.

Featherweights: Tremaine Williams (10-0) vs. Christopher Martin (30-8-3)

Super Middleweight: Fabiano Pena (19-7-1) vs. Vaughn Alexander (9-0)

Light-heavyweight: Junior Younan (11-0) vs. Zoltan Sera (29-13)

Welterweight: Enriko Gogokhia (4-0) vs. Jonathan Steele (7-0)

StevensonKO

Nearly a year out of the ring hasn’t dulled the potency of Adonis Stevenson’s straight left hand. The lineal light-heavyweight champion needed less than two rounds to repeatedly blitz Andrzej Fonfara to force a ring apron stoppage from trainer Virgil Hunter.

Fonfara never recovered from getting caught with a left-hand counter early in the first round. He was dropped by the shot and nearly stopped as the bell rung. The second was a continuation of the first before Hunter saved his client from a more brutal stoppage.

What would have been an intriguing rematch 2 years ago was rendered pointless by recent developments. Since Fonfara’s notable showing in the first bout, he’s had a brutal Fight of the Year candidate against Nathan Cleverly and got destroyed in one round against Joe Smith Jr. That wear and tear seemed notable in Fonfara looking more like a pinata than a fighter Saturday night.

As for Stevenson, we can say a lot about his putrid level of competition over the last 5 years. However, what can’t be debated is he remains one of the more lethal hitters in the sport (he hurt Fonara badly while backpedaling). Like most PBC fighters, he affirmed in his post-fight interview that he’ll fight whomever Al Haymon puts in front of him. Logically, that should be the winner of Kovalev-Ward II or Eleider Alvarez. Otherwise,  it’s just more of the same for a 39-year old champion whose time at the elite level can end at any given moment.


Alvarez_Pascal

ELEIDER ALVAREZ MD JEAN PASCAL: This was an entertaining scrap. At this stage, the 34-year old Pascal doesn’t have the same explosive athleticism that won him the light-heavyweight title from Chad Dawson. But he still has a huge heart, and it allowed Pascal to go the distance despite being rocked several times by Alvarez. Whenever it seemed like Pascal might be going out, he fired back with body shots and occasionally landed some flashy left hook counter upstairs.

In the end, it was Alvarez’s consistent jab that kept Pascal controlled to take a majority decision (117-111, 116-112, 114-114). The win positions Alvarez as a top contender for Stevenson’s WBC title.

 

Julio_Ceja

Looks like we’re at the end of the road for Anselmo Moreno. Last night, the former super bantamweight title-holder meekly submitted to Julio Ceja after being floored in the third round from a right uppercut.

In years past, Moreno was able to keep fighters honest with the accuracy and snap of his southpaw straight left. It failed him yesterday as Ceja was able to get inside by the second, where he looked stronger in exchanges. Moreno’s balance began to look shaky and he was retreating to the ropes by the third. It was there that Ceja clipped him with a right uppercut for the knockdown.

Moreno was still conscious but took the 10 count on bended knee before walking to his corner.

The loss drops Moreno to 36-6-1, having lost four of his last five fights. His previous fight, a rematch with WBC bantamweight champ Shinsuke Yamanaka, resulted in a seventh-round TKO defeat.

 

Salido_Perez

SONORA, MEXICO — Outside of a third round knockdown scare, veteran Orlando Salido dominated late replacement Aristedes Perez with methodical pressure and body-punching to score a seventh-round corner stoppage.

It didn’t take long for Salido to brush off nearly a year of inactivity. He continually trapped Perez on the ropes where the journeyman was hapless to stop the barrage of overhand rights, left hooks and body shots. The one bad moment came in the third when Salido was forced to his knees by a pinpoint right uppercut through the guard. Salido would remain in retreat for close to a minute before finishing the round strong with flurry of power shots.

Perez had enough by the end of the seventh and seemed to quit more from exhaustion than damage. Salido team reported been in negotiations with Vasyl Lomachenko for a long-awaited rematch.

Based on this performance, Salido has a tall order in repeating his win from several years ago. He was nearly KO’d in the final round of that win and enjoyed a significant weight advantage (coupled with a lenient ref who ignored his repeated low blows). Lomachenko is now much more seasoned while Salido has the wear and tear of four consecutive taxing fights since 2014 against Terdsak Kokietgym, Roman Martinez (2X) and Francisco Vargas.

Don’t be surprised if Lomachenko-Salido II looks a lot like the Klitschko-Brewster rematch.

Spence_Brook_tko

The Truth has arrived. Errol Spence Jr. lived up to his nickname by silencing critics (myself included) by overcoming an early deficit to batter Kell Brook into an 11th round stoppage and claim the IBF welterweight title.

The fight was fought on a very high level. Early on, Brook held the advantage when he kept the challenger at long-range and on the end of his right hand and jabs. But Spence would force the action and remain relentless in clubbing the body. The biggest difference over the first half was Brook had a better grasp of ring generalship; he knew when to pick his spots on offense and smother Spence’s attempts to respond. Through six, I had Brook with a 4-2 lead.

Then things started going south for the Sheffield native. Brook’s punch output dissipated drastically as Spence’s accuracy and pressure gradually increased every round. Now Brook was a step slower in clinching, allowing Spence to work the body and land punishing jabs.

By the eighth, bad swelling surrounded Brook’s left eye. The toll of making the 147 limit from welterweight, in addition to Spence’s pressure and body-punching, had Brook’s resistance withering by the minute. There was nowhere to hide as the challenger punished Brook with blistering power shots whenever the champion sought refuge on the ropes. Brook was forced to take a knee in the 10th and was on the verge of being stopped before a dramatic late rally got him through the round.

Spence promptly continued his workmanlike assault in the 11th. Brook once again took a knee, later claiming the left eye damage had badly compromised his vision. This time, his corner wisely saved him from further punishment.


If you’re a top welterweight not named Errol Spence, tonight performance has put you on notice. The most impressive thing for me was Spence’s defense, which I had previously underrated. He proved to an elusive, small target and took away the potency of Brook’s right hand.

WBA/WBC champion Keith Thurman, who’s currently recovering from elbow surgery, wasted no time responding to Spence’s unification challenge.

Although many see Spence as the future kingpin of the division, Thurman has a good chance of derailing it. One Time is highly athletic and has the footwork needed to keep Spence from getting set and also exploding with flashy and damaging combos. However, we know Spence’s specialty is body-punching and Thurman has been hurt badly twice from shots downstairs against Luiz Collazo and Shawn Porter. Ideally, a Spence and Thurman unification should be one of PBC’s major fights in early 2018.

KellBrook_eye

What’s next for Kell Brook? A LONG break. He has suffered orbital bone fractures to both eyes in his last two fights. A titanium plate had to be inserted into the right one after the brutal defeat to Gennady Golovkin last year. The same procedure will likely be required for the left eye that Spence smashed tonight. The eyes will be targets from here on out, and Brook’s best bet would be to take the rest of the year off and cash out with an all-Sheffield showdown against Amir Khan in spring 2018.

As for Spence, there’s no need to sit around while Thurman convalesces. Luis Collazo or the winner for the just announced Robert Guerrero vs. Omar Figueroa (assuming they don’t kill each other) bout would be solid stay-busy fights to close out the year.

Whatever Spence does, you can be rest assured we’ll all be watching very closely.

 

 

Davis_Walsh

LONDON — With his promoter Floyd Mayweather cheering him on from ringside, Gervonta Davis made quick work of hometown hero Liam Walsh to complete the first defense of his IBF super featherweight title.

The fight was no contest from the opening bell. Utilizing the shoulder roll from the southpaw stance, Davis clipped Walsh with right jabs to the body and counter straight lefts from mid-range. The bout’s only knockdown was produced in the third when Walsh’s attempts to maul were stifled by repeated overhand lefts. Walsh beat the count but was quickly overwhelmed to force the referee stoppage.

Davis improves to 18-0. Per Mayweather, Davis will be an active champion and look to fight again within the next few months.


Fantastic performance from Tank. You can see the Mayweather mentorship is paying off via that jab to the stomach. Also, note how Davis adopted the Mayweather lead forearm to the neck to create space and keep the head stationary for punches. The latter proved to be Walsh’s downfall.

When you consider Davis is only 22 years old, his upside remains should he remain focused (keep that weight in check!).