People love to get worked up and loudly declaim their opinions. Social media feeds this natural inclination. This dynamic has been on full display the past two days, in the wake of Andre Ward’s unanimous decision victory over Sergey Kovalev.
I can certainly understand why some observers felt Kovalev deserved to win the fight. It is a valid opinion. And the fight was well-fought and exciting, so I have no trouble tolerating those who are passionate in their opinion that Kovalev won.
What I cannot tolerate is when that passion leads to careless and impresise use of language. To say “I think the judges got it wrong! I had Kovalev winning!” is perfectly valid. But to say that Kovalev was robbed is not.
I thought Juan Manuel Marquez deserved to win over Manny Pacquiao in their third fight. My score is posted on Boxrec, along with the published scores of a bunch of other writers. The majority of us had Marquez winning.
But that doesn’t mean Marquez got robbed. It was a close fight, with a lot of rounds that could have been scored either way.
Ward’s victory on Saturday night over Kovalev was exactly the same. I was recapping and analyzing each round for another website, which did not allow me to watch it with the same kind of attention necessary for providing a truly reliable scorecard. But I was taking close note of the big moments in each round and tracking the general flow of the fight.
In my estimation, the fight really came down to two, maybe three, rounds: Rounds 6, 10 and 12.
I think Kovalev probably deserved to win all of the first four rounds. There may be some case to be made for Ward in the third and fourth. But I think it’s fair to say all of the first four should have gone to Kovalev.
Round 5 was Ward’s round. Round 6 was very close. Without watching strictly for the purpose of scoring, my impression was that it probably belonged to Kovalev.
Rounds 7, 8 and 9 were all Ward’s rounds. He controlled the pace with his jab and movement and put in outstanding work to the body. Kovalev landed some good punches, but these were the rounds when Ward was rallying and turning what had looked like a potential blow-out into a true fight.
In Round 10, Kovalev showed true resolve and gave Ward some real problems. Ward continued to do some very good things in this round. It could have gone to either man. Maybe there was a small edge to Ward.
Ward won Round 11. Round 12 was again very close. Ward landed four very good punches inside of the last 10 seconds, and that is usually enough to earn a close round. But Kovalev presented a lot of effective aggression in that round.
If somebody gave Kovalev Rounds 1-4, 6 and 10, that would have left the fight six rounds each, with Kovalev winning by a point thanks to his Round 2 knock down. That would have been a completely credible card. A card that gave Kovalev Rounds 1-4, 6, 10 and 12 would also be credible.
But a card that gave Ward Rounds 5 and 7-12 would also be completely valid. So would a card that gave Ward the third or the fourth.
In the end, this was a highly competitive fight that could have been scored either way. A rematch is essential.