By Keith Idec
Kathy Duva isn’t optimistic that the protest her promotional company has filed on behalf of Sergey Kovalev will change anything.
She still feels that what occurred during the Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev rematch Saturday night in Las Vegas needs to be addressed with the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
“We have to try,” Duva said. “I’m not telling you I think we have a great chance of winning. But we have to at least do it, and be on the record.”
Main Events has filed a protest of Ward’s eighth-round technical knockout victory because Kovalev’s handlers believe Ward delivered multiple low blows that directly impacted the controversial result of their second light heavyweight title fight at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Referee Tony Weeks stopped the bout at 2:29 of the eighth round after Ward appeared to land three straight body blows beneath Kovalev’s belt line.
Further complicating matters, Kovalev leaned forward as Ward was hitting him and eventually sat on the ropes to help keep himself up. Duva doesn’t understand why Ward, who hurt Kovalev badly with a right hand with 1:14 to go in the eighth, wasn’t warned by Weeks for low blows.
“I think in that seventh round, yeah, he was complaining again [about low blows] and [Weeks is] waving him in to fight,” Duva said. “And then the beginning of the eighth round he got hit low again, waving him in to fight. And then at the end, three low blows as a combination almost. I think there was one legal punch in the middle of that.”
Russia’s Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) lost a debatable unanimous decision to Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) in their first fight November 19 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. That controversial conclusion, combined with what happened Saturday night, has made Duva wonder whether she wants to promote another fight in Nevada.
“Of course it costs him financially,” Duva said of Kovalev. “Coming out of this win, we would’ve had the opportunity to maybe make that [Adonis] Stevenson fight. We would’ve had – the sky’s the limit. He would’ve been the No. 1 fighter in the world. And came here twice, and two times. You start to say, ‘Why would I come here?’
“This is egregious. I’ve never seen anything like this, I have to say. The last time I saw someone spectacularly getting away with low blows was in this city, when, it might’ve been in this building – I think it was, when [Fernando] Vargas fought [Felix] Trinidad. And my thought is the same thing, my guy [Kovalev, Vargas] should’ve done the same thing back. But my question to you is, if Sergey hit Ward low four times in one round – three in a row at the end, the way it was done so egregiously, do you think he wouldn’t have been disqualified?”
Duva was pleased when Weeks, who is considered one of boxing’s better referees, was assigned to the fight last month by the NSAC. She just can’t accept what Weeks did – or didn’t do – on Saturday night.
“I am told, again, that low blows take a lot out of you,” Duva said. “He was getting hit like that repeatedly. It’s a shame. The referee is supposed to protect you. … The ref is supposed to protect the fighter, and I don’t feel that he protected Sergey at all.”
Weeks warned Ward for a low blow in the second round, but never thereafter.
“Look, in any other world, it was three flagrant low blows in a row, they get disqualified,” Duva said. “They don’t get their hand raised. It’s a shame. Ward was hitting him low the whole fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.