Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward
|Date||November 19, 2016|
|Venue||T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.|
|Title(s) on the line||WBA, WBO and IBF light heavyweight championships.|
|Tale of the tape|
|Ward wins via 12-round unanimous decision|
Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward, billed as Pound for Pound, was a highly anticipated professional boxing superfight for the unified WBA, IBF, and WBO light heavyweight titles. The bout was held on November 19, 2016, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event was televised on HBO Pay-per-view. Ward won the fight by unanimous decision to take the titles.
Entering the fight, Kovalev, the unified light heavyweight champion, was ranked No. 2 in The Ring's pound-for-pound top 10 rankings and Ward, the former unified super middleweight champion, was ranked No. 4. In anticipation of the victor being acclaimed the sport's best pound-for-pound fighter, the promoters dubbed the fight simply "Pound for Pound."
This was just the third bout between two undefeated fighters rated in The Ring's pound-for-pound top 5 since the magazine began its pound-for-pound rankings in 1989. The previous two were 1990's Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Meldrick Taylor bout and 1999's matchup between Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad.
Unified light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev fought Andre Ward at the T-Mobile Arena on November 19, 2016. The fight was announced in June, and both fighters retained their undefeated records through interim bouts. This event marked Ward's first time fighting in Las Vegas. Ward had a few rough opening rounds, and was knocked down in the second by a hard right from Kovalev. After being knocked down in the second round, he won a controversial unanimous decision with all three judges scoring the fight 114-113 in favor of Ward.
Final CompuBox numbers
En route to losing the controversial unanimous decision, it was indeed Kovalev who threw and landed more punches:
Ward described his victory as "the most important and satisfying" of his career and argued, "The crowd, you could hear they thought I won." Despite being knocked down for just the second time in his career, Ward denied ever being hurt by Kovalev and felt his own effectiveness at midrange and on the inside "made all the difference" in the fight. He also stated his willingness to grant Kovalev a rematch. Virgil Hunter, Ward's trainer, contended Ward won because he "landed the cleaner punches" and Kovalev "was aggressive but not effective."
Kovalev denounced Ward's win as the "wrong decision" and suggested the three judges, all Americans, were biased in favor of Ward. Commentator Larry Merchant agreed, labeling it a "classic hometown decision." Kathy Duva, Kovalev's promoter, called it "a bad decision," criticized referee Robert Byrd for failing to control Ward's "wrestling" tactics, and vowed to exercise Kovalev's contractual right to an immediate rematch. Duva conceded that the fight was "close" and did not believe the nationality of the judges affected the outcome.
Thomas Hauser concurred with Duva's criticisms of Byrd and deemed "Byrd's refereeing ... more problematic than the judging." Viewing it "a difficult fight to score" with "a lot of close rounds," Hauser scored the fight 115-113 for Kovalev but found the 114-113 scores in Ward's favor "within the realm of reason."
George Willis of the New York Post praised the fight for living up to expectations, rejected claims the decision amounted to a "robbery," and noted that all three judges "had virtually the same scores...from the best seats in the house." Liam Happe of Yahoo! Sports echoed those sentiments, writing the fight was a "a thrilling war" in which boxing fans "got their money's worth" and that "it wasn't daylight robbery, at all" despite his personal scorecard favoring Kovalev by a point. Scott Christ of Bad Left Hook, who scored the fight 115-112 for Kovalev, considered it a "tough [fight] to score, with plenty of rounds that could have gone either way" and characterized it as a "debatable" decision rather than a "robbery."
In the aftermath of the fight, The Ring elevated Ward from No. 4 to No. 2 in its pound-for-pound rankings, behind No. 1 Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez, and dropped Kovalev one spot to No. 3. Ward also supplanted Ward as the magazine's No. 1 ranked light heavyweight, with Kovalev falling to No. 2.
The champion Kovalev received a minimum purse of $2 million and stood to earn a percentage of the profits from his promoter, Main Events. The challenger Ward's purse was a career-high $5 million.
Kovalev–Ward was broadcast on HBO pay-per-view in the United States and generated 165,000 buys, a number seen as "disappointing" for a fight of its magnitude. It was the first appearance for either Kovalev or Ward headlining a pay-per-view bout and faced competition from the Manny Pacquiao vs. Jessie Vargas pay-per-view fight card earlier in November.
Unofficial media scorecards
- Associated Press: 116–111, Kovalev
- Las Vegas Review-Journal: 116–112, Kovalev
- ESPN: 115–112, Kovalev
- The Guardian: 115–112, Kovalev
- Boxing Monthly: 114–113, Kovalev
- Los Angeles Times: 114–113, Ward
- New York Post: 114–113, Ward
- The Ring: 114–113, Ward
- USA Today: 114–113, Ward
- Yahoo! Sports: 114–113, Ward
Journalists and commentators
- Harold Lederman, HBO Sports: 116–111, Kovalev
- Thomas Hauser, The Sweet Science: 115–113, Kovalev
- Stephen A. Smith, ESPN: 114–113 Kovalev
- Max Kellerman, HBO Sports: 114–113, Kovalev
- Tony Bellew, Sky Sports: 114–114
- Paulie Malignaggi, Sky Sports: 116–112, Ward
- Paul Smith, Sky Sports: 116–113, Ward
- Matthew Macklin, Sky Sports: 115–113, Ward
- Branson Wright, The Plain Dealer: 114–113, Ward
- Light heavyweight: Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward
- Light welterweight: Maurice Hooker vs. Darleys Pérez
- Light heavyweight: Oleksandr Gvozdyk vs. Isaac Chilemba
- Middleweight: Curtis Stevens vs. James de la Rosa
- "Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward superfight now officially set". Boxing News Online.
- Mulvaney, Kieran. "Ward Recovers from Knockdown to Score Close Win Over Kovalev". insidehboboxing.com. HBO. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
- Rafael, Dan. "Andre Ward grinds out win; Sergey Kovalev calls it 'the wrong decision'". espn.com. ESPN. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- Hobbs, Tim. "Sergey Kovalev says Andre Ward's points win was 'wrong decision'". skysports.com. Sky Sports. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- "Merchant: Kovalev-Ward was classic hometown decision". yahoo.com. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- Esco, Wil. "Kathy Duva demands immediate rematch, critical of Andre Ward's 'wrestling' tactics". badlefthook.com. SB Nation. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
- Hauser, Thomas. "Ward–Kovalev Reflections: Part Two". thesweetscience.com. The Sweet Science. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- Willis, George. "Ward-Kovalev was no robbery and everything boxing needed". newyorkpost.com. New York Post. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- Happe, Liam. "Why Andre Ward's decision win over Sergey Kovalev was NOT daylight robbery". yahoo.com. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- Christ, Scott. "Kovalev vs Ward results: Andre Ward wins narrow decision". badlefthook.com. SB Nation. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- Rosenthal, Michael. "Ratings update: Roman Gonzalez remains No. 1 P4P". ringtv.com. The Ring. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- Rafael, Dan. "Sergey Kovalev predicts knockout ahead of Andre Ward showdown". espn.com. ESPN. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- Abramson, Mitch. "Ward-Kovalev does just over 160,000 PPV buys, source says". ringtv.com. The Ring. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- "Ward-Kovalev: $3.3 Million Live Gate From 10,066 Tickets Sold". Boxingscene.
- Dahlberg, Tim. "Ward takes close decision over Kovalev". The Detroit News. Associated Press. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
- Manzano, Gilbert. "Andre Ward edges Sergey Kovalev by unanimous decision for titles". ReviewJournal.com. Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
- Armen Graham, Bryan. "Andre Ward scores controversial points victory over Sergey Kovalev". TheGuardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
- Williams, Luke G. "Scorecard: Kovalev vs Ward". boxingmonthly.com. Boxing Monthly. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
- Hernandez, Dylan. "Andre Ward's victory over Sergey Kovalev a courageous effort". LATimes.com. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
- Wills, George. "Andre Ward survives knockdown to take Sergey Kovalev titles". NYPost.com. New York Post. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
- Rosenthal, Michael. "Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev: Let's do it again". Ringtv.com. The Ring. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
- Coppinger, Mike. "Andre Ward rallies from early knockdown to outpoint Sergey Kovalev for light heavyweight titles". USAToday.com. USA Today. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
- Iole, Kevin. "Andre Ward survives Sergey Kovalev...this time, at least". Yahoo.com. Yahoo!. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
- Stephen A Smith [@stephenasmith] (20 November 2016). "I had Kovalev winning 5 of first 6 rds, then Ward winning 5 of last 6. Kovalev's edge comes from that second round knockdown. Period" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Andre Ward just deserved his success over Sergey Kovalev, says The Panel". SkySports.com. Sky Sports. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
- "Paule Malignaggi: "Ward showed all of his heart; rematch will be very close if not closer"". YouTube.com. The Ring Digital. Missing or empty
- Paul Smith Jnr [@PaulSmithJnr] (20 November 2016). "113-116 - Ward imo. Hard fight to score! Hats off to both. A chess match" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Wright, Branson. "Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev decision remains hot topic". cleveland.com. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- "Maurice Hooker vs. Darleys Perez joins Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward pay-per-view". badlefthook.
- "Oleksandr Gvozdyk-Isaac Chilemba set for Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward card". ESPN.
- "Curtis Stevens added to Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward undercard". Curtis Stevens added to Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward undercard.
- Sergey Kovalev's career boxing record
- Andre Ward's career boxing record
- Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward at HBO
W12 Isaac Chilemba
| Sergey Kovalev's bouts
June 6, 2017
W12 Alexander Brand
| Andre Ward's bouts|
June 6, 2017