So no matter how you spin it, this was a very close fight when it took place in November 2016, in Las Vegas, NV. Many Kovalev fans, along with the fighter himself felt he was robbed. I don’t blame them or Sergey.
He won the fight in my opinion, although by a close margin, and he should have come away with the win particularly given he was the champ. However, in a close fight, you never know what the judges are looking for and each of them somehow had the fight 114-113 for the newly crowned light heavyweight champ in Andre Ward. I had the fight scored the same; however, I had it scored for Kovalev. I scored it that way at ringside and I scored it that way when I watched it later on playback. That said, although I think he won the fight, I don’t necessarily think he was robbed given how many close rounds there were in the fight. Unfortunately, with the knockdown in the second round, I think that should have been enough for Kovalev to get the decision.
Andre Ward fought a good fight and did a great job recovering from the second round knockdown and from other times he was hurt in the fight. Ward had very good moments in the fight as well, and had had he lost the fight on the cards, his fans may very well have felt it was a bad decision. I don’t think anyone could go as far as to say Ward was robbed had the script been flipped. Ward definitely fought a close enough fight and did enough in my opinion not to say Kovalev was robbed. I believe Kovalev won the fight but several rounds I scored for him were very close and obviously went the other way on the cards. Don’t leave it in their hands if you can help it, particularly in a close one.
Now let’s answer some questions in the aftermath of this fight. Did it hurt either fighter? I would have to say this fight only solidified the fanfare they each already had in place, even Kovalev in the loss. It was also the first time Ward fought in Las Vegas and his fans traveled very well to the new T-Mobile Arena which carried chants of S.O.G. throughout the fight. Subsequently, the answer to this question is no; each fighter’s fans just appreciate all the more.
Now did it help either fighter in popularity? Well, I would have to say the answer to that is no for several reasons.
One, the fight reportedly only did about 160,000 PPV buys which is just more than half of what the lame match-up between Jesse Vargas and Manny Pacquiao did in November just prior to this fight. The fans each fighter already had were the ones in the seats and the ones who purchased the fight. Neither had ever headlined a PPV event. Subsequently, the fight would have likely had more viewers had it just been carried on HBO. I think a rematch would be better suited for HBO versus PPV given the previous low numbers. It’s unfortunate too, because as I mentioned in a piece before the fight, these fighters and this match-up had everything that is good for boxing. It had two of it’s best and most popular pound for pound fighters among real boxing fans; however, neither gained more popularity as a result of the fight. Instead, everyone who already knows and follows them became stronger fans wanting to see them face each other again in 2017.
That leaves the question of whether this fight was good for boxing in general. I think this has two answers. The answer is yes in the fact that boxing promoters finally made the right fight between two of it’s best. It left us wanting another installment, because it was truly a great fight which rarely happens with among it best and most popular fighters. Unfortunately, the answer is also no because the fight was carried on PPV although neither were a household name, and unfortunately for boxing it did not draw any new fans.
Now the last question for me is would I pay to see them fight each other again? My answer is yes. I would definitely purchase it if it ends up being a PPV event. I would also buy a ticket and attend if I had to. These are the fighters fans should pay to see, and these are the match-ups that deserve the bill for PPV. Unfortunately, unless one of them magically fought Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, a PPV headline for either one of them just does not seem likely or profitable. That said, boxing remains the same. Although the promoters and boxing did right by its fans with this one, the fight was not good for boxing in regard to gaining popularity and viewers. However, it was good for boxing’s true fans, so let’s do it again. Just show it on HBO next time.
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