Andre Ward Defeats Sergey Kovalev in Close Decision
Photos: David Spagnolo/Main Events
In front of a packed house at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada and live on HBO Pay-Per-View, Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (31-0, 15 KOs)* won a close unanimous decision victory over Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) to steal the WBO, WBA and IBF Light Heavyweight World Titles in a decision that most ringside media thought went the wrong way.
Both fighters were feeling each other out in the first two rounds. The Krusher continued his come-forward attack and knocked Andre down in the second. Ward managed to get up quickly and took several hard shots from Sergey before the bell rang to end the second round. The next several rounds included heavy shots from both fighters and some wrestling-style moments. The majority of the rounds were hard-fought and close. Many writers had the decision going to the other way but all three judges scored the bout 114-113 in favor of Ward.
After the fight, Andre Ward said, “I was not surprised when I heard the decision I don’t know where you got that from. I know it was a close fight. The crowd you can hear they thought I won. I have been a champ before. I knew it was going to be a tough fight. It was the first time in my career I was dropped. He did everything I expected him to do. He started to show up as I expected. My coach did a great job. It’s hard for me to call myself great. At the end of the day I am a two-weight division champion. Of course I would do a rematch. I am not going to negotiate a fight right now. I will go home and relax and see what’s next.”
Sergey Kovalev replied, “It’s the wrong decision. I don’t want to say my opinion. The witnesses are here; they saw it. It’s my job. It was a fight of my life. I am disappointed in the judges’ decision. He got maybe a few rounds; I agree with that. I kept control. I lost maybe three rounds the whole fight. Of course I want a rematch and I will kick his ass. I want to show good boxing. I am against here, it is the USA, and all the judges were from the USA. He is a boxer. It’s a sport. Don’t make it politics; it is a sport and I won the fight.”
The second fight of the HBO Pay-Per-View telecast was a battle for the NABF Light Heavyweight Title between undefeated prospect Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk (12-0, 10 KOs) and Isaac “Golden Boy” Chilemba (24-5-2, 10 KOs). Gvozdyk and Chilemba traded some heavy shots for eight full rounds. After the eighth round Chilemba’s trainer, Roy Jones, Jr. stopped the fight because Chilemba had suffered a broken right hand. Gvozdyk retained his title and remains undefeated.
After the fight Gvozdyk said, “I’m very excited and happy. What more can I say? This is the best feeling!”
Chilemba had little to say after the fight because he was in tremendous pain and could barely speak. However, he did manager to add, “I am devastated. If I hadn’t hurt my right arm in the third round it would have been a completely different outcome. I was in an incredible amount of pain from the third round through the rest of the fight.”
Fan favorite Curtis “Cerebral Assassin” Stevens (29-5, 21 KOs) opened the HBO Pay-Per-View telecast against James “The King” de la Rosa (23-5, 13 KOs). Curtis knocked down de la Rosa in the first and immediately attacked again as soon as The King returned to his feet but the bell rang soon after to end the round. Stevens managed a cut over de la Rosa’s left eye that began to impede his vision in the third. However, Stevens hurt his left hand in the fourth round and the momentum of the fight slowed as a result. Stevens continued to dominate the remainder of the fight despite the injury. A point was taken away from Stevens in the eighth for a low blow but in the end it did not matter as Stevens retained his WBC Continental Americas Middleweight Title with a unanimous decision victory. Two judges scored the contest 96-92 and one judge had the score 98-90.
After the fight Stevens gave an honest review of his performance when he said, “I give myself a C minus. Could have thrown my jab a little more. I am glad I got the W but I am a little disappointed in myself. The jab was good but I could have popped that shit a little more. Hurt my left hand in the fourth round. He’s got a hard-ass head. But I am glad I got the win.”
When asked about the fight de la Rosa simply said, “I don’t have any comments. People saw what it was.”
In the final bout before the HBO Pay-Per-View telecast began, heavyweights Darmani “Rock Solid” Rock (6-0, 4 KOs) and Brice Ritani-Coe (4-5-1, 3 KOs) fought in a four round bout. Rock walked away still undefeated with two judges scoring the contest 40-36 and one score care at 40-35 for a unanimous decision for the Philly native.
Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa “T-Rex” Shields (1-0) made her professional debut against her long-time amateur rival Franchon “The Heavy Hitting Diva” Crews (0-1) who also made her professional debut in a four-round action-packed super middleweight bout. All three judges scored the bout 40-36 in favor of Shields.
Featherweight Tyler “Golden Child” McCreary (12-0, 6 KOs) went the distance against Vincent “Pooh Bear” Jennings (5-3-1, 4 KOs) and earned a majority decision with the judges scoring the bout 57-57, 59-55, 58-56.
The free view opened with junior welterweights Sonny “Pretty Boi” Fredrickson (15-0, 9 KOs) and Gabriel Duluc (11-2, 2 KOs) squaring off for the full eight scheduled rounds before Fredrickson was declared the winner by unanimous decision 78-74, 77-75, 78-74.
Bakhram Murtazaliev (7-0, 5 KOs) made quick work of Botirsher Obidov (6-1-1, 2 KOs) with three knockdowns in the second round before the referee stopped the fight at 2:52 of the second round.
In the first fight of the evening middleweight Meiirim “The Sultan” Nursultanov (1-0) made his professional and Main Events’ debut with a six-round unanimous decision victory against Henry Beckford with all three judges scoring the contest 60-54.