By Keith Idec
Sullivan Barrera battled Andre Ward for 12 rounds last year.
Barrera believes Ward, who had a point deducted for hitting him low in the eighth round, throws low blows “on purpose” to take his opponents’ focus off of fighting him. That said, the light heavyweight contender thinks Sergey Kovalev responded poorly during the eighth and final round of their rematch June 17 in Las Vegas.
“Andre Ward is a fighter who will take anything he can get to get an advantage,” Barrera told BoxingScene.com through a translator. “At the same time, with Kovalev being a champion, he shouldn’t have just bent over like that and let it stay in the referee’s hands.
“There were low blows before that, but at some point, someone in [Kovalev’s] corner or even he should’ve let the referee know what was going on. But being a champion, and just bending over like that and thinking the referee was gonna do something about it, it was not a good idea.”
Ward defeated Kovalev by technical knockout after landing three consecutive body blows that landed below Kovalev’s belt line. Referee Tony Weeks waved an end to their second fight at 2:29 of the eighth round, with Kovalev bent over and leaning against the ropes after what Ward described as “borderline” body punches.
Just how low those blows were has caused heated debates on social media and message boards, in comments sections, and on radio and television in the 2½ weeks since their light heavyweight championship rematch ended.
What’s indisputable is that Ward hurt Kovalev badly with a right hand when there was 1:14 to go in the eighth round. That punishing punch left Kovalev holding and made the tiring ex-champion susceptible to Ward’s body attack.
Ward was ahead by the same score on two cards (67-66) and behind on the third scorecard (68-65) when their scheduled 12-round fight was stopped at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
“I feel the right hand Ward hit Kovalev with clearly showed that he was tired before that,” Barrera said. “That right hand kind of put the period at the end of the sentence.”
Barrera (19-1, 14 KOs), whose lone loss was a unanimous-decision defeat to Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) in March 2016 in Oakland, California, will return to the ring July 15 in Inglewood, California. The Cuban-born, Miami-based contender is scheduled to face Long Island knockout artist Joe Smith Jr. (23-1, 19 KOs) in a 12-round fight HBO will televise as part of a “Boxing After Dark” tripleheader from The Forum.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.