By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
Las Vegas, NV (November 20th, 2016)– The WBA, WBO, IBF and pound for pound titles have all been resolved, but not without controversy. 31-0 Andre Ward of Oakland, California outpointed Sergey Kovalev 114-113 on all three scorecards to win universal recognition as the light heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Not everybody watching the main event championship bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, agreed with the decision. Harold Letterman, the HBO television commentator, thought Kovalev, 31-1-1, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, won the bout by a wide margin. HBO commentator Max Kellerman disagreed with Letterman.
Kovalev dropped Ward to the canvas with a short punch onto all fours for a flash knockdown as the two boxers battled for control of the ring in the second round. Ward got outboxed by Kovalev over the first few rounds, then spent the entire bout Bernard Hopkins style, trying to work his way back into the bout and win most rounds down the stretch.
Kovalev began to slow down a bit over the second half of the bout, and neither Kovalev nor anybody else could imagine how close the bout would be going into the twelfth and final round. The bout was on the table in the final round, and although Kovalev appeared to win it with crisp body shots which scored, Ward remained confident down the stretch and somehow won the last round on the three judges’ scorecards. Kovalev was content to chase ward around the ring all night, without cutting off the ring as he should. Ward, a boxing rabbit, succeeding in boxing from distance range, avoiding the Kovalev wolf in the process.
While Ward answered HBO commentator Max Kellerman he was not surprised he won, everybody who watched the bout on pay-per-view and at T-Mobile Arena appeared stunned, not just by the verdict, but also by the uniformity of the three scorecards of the judges. Kovalev stated after the bout he felt the three American judges gave Ward a hometown decision which he, Kovalev, actually won. Ward said is open to rematch. The only thing Ward did not agree to was where and when a rematch with Kovalev could be held in 2017
Well, Andre Ward is the new universally recognized 175 pound World Light Heavyweight champion. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Andre Ward is the universally recognized pounds for pound best fighter in the world. Not everybody agrees, but such is life. In the end, Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev gave a great show, and did pro boxing proud. Well done.
Scoring: 114-113, 114-113, 114-113 for Andre Ward
Referee: Robert Byrd
Ward wins World Boxing Association World Light Heavyweight Title
Ward wins World Boxing Organization World Light Heavyweight Title
Ward wins International Boxing Federation World Light Heavyweight Title
Ward becomes recognized as the best pound for pound fighter in the world
T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, Undercard Bouts
Referees: Kenny Bayless, Vic Drakulich, Russell Mora, Jay Nady, Tony Weeks
HBO Televised Undercard Bouts
Oleksandr Gvozdyk TKO 8 Isaac Chilemba, Light Heavyweights (3:00)
Chilemba retired on his stool with a broken right hand. Trainer Roy Jones Jr. stopped it.
Gyozdyk retains NABF Light Heavyweight title.
Bakhram Murtazaliev TKO Botirsher Obidov, Middleweights (2:52)
Unbeaten Murtazaliev had Obidov down three times in second round. Automatic stoppage.
Sonny Fredrickson Win 8 Gabriel Daluc, Super Lightweights
Super lightweight prospect Frederickson 15-0. Scoring: 78-74, 78-74 77-75 Frederickson.
Tyler McCreary Win Majority Decision 6 Vincent Jennings, Super Featherweights
Super featherweight prospect McCreary goes to 11-0
Meirim Nursaltanov (Pro Debut) Win 6 Henry Beckford, Middleweights
Pro debut for Kazakhstan’s Nursaltaonov over 4-5 veteran Beckford. Unanimous decision.
Darmany Rock Win 4 Brice Ritani Roe, Heavyweights
20 year old Philadelphia heavyweight Rock goes to 6-0 with four knockouts.
Clarissa Shields (Pro Debut) Win 4 Franchon Crews (Pro Debut), Super Middleweights
Pro debut for 2012 London & 2016 Rio female Olympic middleweight gold medalist Shields