Posts Tagged ‘rematch’

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.

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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.

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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

Today, BeatsBoxingMayhem will live stream for the official weigh-in between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev. Yesterday, Kovalev brazenly abandoned the final press conference. Will he have words with Ward in their final face to face? The live stream kicks off at 5:30 p.m. ET. The grudge rematch airs tomorrow on HBO pay-per-view at 9 p.m. ET.

Ward_Kovalev

We’re now in the final stretch of fight week for Ward vs. Kovalev 2. Today, the rivals will give their last media quotes at the final presser. The event kicks off at 4 p.m. ET. The pay-per-view battle goes down this Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.

 

Ward_Kovalev2

Two weeks out from the big rematch, HBO’s 24/7 revisits the first encounter between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev. The fighters and trainers add their commentary, and we get some never before seen footage of the immediate locker room aftermath. Their camps also detail the strategies for victory on June 17. The fight will air on HBO pay-per-view.

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.

 

santacruz_frampton

LAS VEGAS — Leo Santa Cruz knew he couldn’t beat Carl Frampton by brawling, so he did what all great fighters do by adjusting his game plan. The pressure fighter morphed to a boxer-puncher to take a majority decision and regain the WBA featherweight title.

From round one, the feel of the fight had a pronounced difference from their first encounter last July. The taller Santa Cruz worked behind his jab and forced Frampton to become the aggressor and takes risks to get inside. When Frampton succeeded, the challenger took a step back and scored with short flurries inside, forcing Frampton back outside to reset.

santacruz_frampton2

This pattern continued until the sixth round when Frampton began to wear down Santa Cruz with hard body shots and mauling. The punishment and pace slowed Santa Cruz’s jab, giving Frampton more opportunities to close the scoring gap in the seventh and eighth stanzas.

In the ninth, Santa Cruz’s jab and high activity returned. Frampton couldn’t equal the challenger’s punch output, and found himself being out-landed 3-1 in exchanges.

Despite the masterful game plan, Frampton’s success in the mid rounds and desperation push in the 12th made for close scorecards. Judge Burt Clements had it a draw, 114-114. He was overruled by Dave Moretti and Glenn Feldman, who both had it 115-113 for Santa Cruz.

The most impressive moment came afterward from Santa Cruz, who stated in his post-fight interview that he wants another fight to make a trilogy. You heard that right. No mention of needing to talk with his manager or promoter. Santa Cruz lauded Frampton for giving him a rematch, and feel he’s obligated to return the favor.

I’m sure not a single boxing fan will have an objection.

Carl Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz

Photo Credit: Esther Lin/Showtime

LAS VEGAS — WBA featherweight champion Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz had no issues making weight this afternoon for their much-anticipated rematch Saturday night at the MGM Grand.

Both fighters weighed in below the featherweight limit at 125.

PREDICTION: At the lower weights, Santa Cruz was able to wear guys down and eventually overwhelm them with his size, punch output and pressure. But at 126, the size advantage isn’t as pronounced, allowing a skilled pugilist like Frampton to keep Santa Cruz at bay with sharp counters. Santa Cruz doesn’t have the technique to outbox Frampton nor can he bulldoze him without getting rocked (like early in the first bout).

In other words, there isn’t much room for improvement I can see from Santa Cruz. Unless Frampton has regressed (not likely), I expect him to get another clear decision.

Dejan Zlaticanin and Mikey Garcia

GARCIA: 134.5

ZLATICANIN: 134.5

PREDICTION: A lot of people are worried for Garcia and with good reason. Zlaticanin is a southpaw pressure fighter that excels in punishing inside work. His right hand has serious pop but it’s usually the looping left hook that puts guys down. In an interview I’ll be posting tomorrow, Garcia explained he’s worked extensively on his right-hand counters. Short, compact punches (particularly the uppercut), will do the most damage. However, it remains to be seen how effective Garcia’s power will be against a full-fledged lightweight. After getting rocked and put in some trouble early on, I see Garcia adjusting to Zlaticanin’s rhythm and outboxing him to a tough unanimous decision.

 

David Benavidez and Sherali Mamajonov

BENAVIDEZ: 166

MAMADJANOV: 167

Opening the card is the undefeated David Benavidez taking on Sherali Mamadjanov in a super middleweight bout.

David Benavidez and Sherali Mamajonov