By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Sergey Kovalev knows it probably isn’t a realistic expectation, but he wants a third fight against Andre Ward.
Kovalev considers their series even.
The former light heavyweight champion thinks he should be given credit for winning their first fight, which Ward narrowly won by unanimous decision (114-113 on all three scorecards) on November 19 at T-Mobile Arena. Despite another controversial conclusion, Kovalev concedes Ward won their rematch June 17 at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
“How I think is the first time is behind me [I won],” Kovalev told a group of reporters last weekend at MGM Grand. “The second fight is behind him [he won]. Right now it’s 1-1. And second fight [he won] with the help of the referee. OK, but 1-1. But let’s do like a third one.”
Ward won their rematch by eighth-round technical knockout, but Kovalev’s promoter, Main Events, filed a protest on his behalf because Ward seemed to land multiple low blows before referee Tony Weeks stopped it. The Nevada State Athletic Commission has yet to rule on Kovalev’s protest, though Main Events CEO Kathy Duva has said she expects the result to stand.
Nevertheless, Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) feels like he and Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) still have unfinished business.
“I feel like Ward, he didn’t [finish the job], because the referee helped him,” Kovalev said. “Really, it was unfairly stopped. Better he stopped me himself and I go to the floor. OK, I’d say, ‘Yes, it’s done. I’m done.’ But I’m not done. I’m ready to fight again with him.”
Russia’s Kovalev is scheduled to fight for the first time since losing his rematch with Ward on November 25 in New York. HBO will televise his fight against Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) from The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Ward – who’s widely viewed as the best boxer, pound-for-pound, in the world – likely will return to the ring sometime early in 2018, but his next fight hasn’t been scheduled.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.