LAS VEGAS – When Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev made their grand arrivals at the MGM Grand earlier this week, the crowds that awaited them were modest in size. There was little buzz around town about their light heavyweight championship fight Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.
That speaks more to the state of boxing than it does about this fight, which is one of the sport’s few must-see events in recent years. This is the third fight ever between two undefeated fighters in the top five of Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings.
The previous two: Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Meldrick Taylor and Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad. (The opinion here is that James Toney vs. Roy Jones Jr. and Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Diego Corrales also deserved that distinction.)
Great fight. The crowd was on its feet at the bell. Both fighters looked exhausted for most of the round. Kovalev was warned for a low blow with about 40 seconds to go. About 10 seconds later, Kovalev landed a quick 1-2 upstairs.
Ward retaliated by grazing Kovalev with a sweeping hook upstairs. Another very close round.
L.A. Times card: 10-9, Ward (114-113, Ward)
Ward gets the nod in the 12th, and I have Kovalev up 115-112 at end, but this is anyone's fight. Some close rounds.
This has become some fight. Ward landed a big left hook early in the round. Kovalev landed a strong jab. A few seconds later, he pounded Ward upstairs with a straight right. A huge left by Ward turned Kovalev’s head. Ward in retreat, waves in Kovalev. Close round.
L.A. Times Card: 10-9, Kovalev (104-104 even)
Ward weathers improved Kovalev pressure and out-boxed him at end, 106-102 Kovalev. Some here have it far closer.
A close round. Kovalev tried to land a huge overhand right in the closing seconds of the round, but missed. Ward landed a big left hook about a minute into the round. Ward landed a couple of big hooks to the body. Kovalev with a jab and hook.
With 10 seconds left, Ward landed another sweeping blow to the body. It will be interesting to see how the judges are scoring this.
L.A. Times card: 10-9, Ward (96-95, Ward)
Best round of the fight, and Ward gets it. 97-92 Kovalev.
This fight has completely turned around. With about 50 seconds remaining in the round, Ward landed a right-hand lead. Late in the round, Ward landed a punch to the back of Kovalev’s head that sent Kovalev into the ropes.
Ward is starting to land some hard punches.
L.A. Times card: 10-9, Ward (85-85 even)
Andre's best round. He punched Kovalev's head, and it backed the champ under the top rope. 88-82 Kovalev.
It was a slow round and Kovalev is starting to look frustrated. Ward is backing out of range when Kovalev throws his jab. Not much landed, but Ward seemed to land the cleaner punches. While in a clinch, Ward threw an elbow into Kovalev’s chin with 13 seconds remaining.