By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Kathy Duva didn’t know what to say.
Sergey Kovalev’s promoter has been involved in boxing for nearly 40 years and she never has seen something like what she witnessed Saturday night. After watching video replays of Andre Ward’s eighth-round technical knockout of Kovalev in their light heavyweight championship rematch at Mandalay Bay Events Center, Duva is certain Ward should’ve been disqualified for repeatedly hitting Kovalev with low blows.
“I’m still having a hard time processing what I just witnessed,” Duva said during a post-fight press conference. “I saw someone who should’ve been disqualified get his hand raised.”
Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) clearly hurt Kovalev with a flush right hand to his jaw in the eighth round. What happened thereafter is what Duva disputes.
Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) was trying to avoid Ward after Ward landed the aforementioned right hand. Ward landed multiple borderline blows to Kovalev’s body, at least one of which could’ve been ruled a foul by referee Tony Weeks.
Ward wasn’t warned or penalized by Weeks in the eighth round before Weeks stopped the fight at the 2:29 mark. Kovalev was hunched over, with his back against the ropes, and wasn’t responding to Ward’s attack when Weeks halted the action.
Kovalev was ahead, 68-65, on the scorecard of judge Steve Weisfeld when the fight was stopped. He was behind, however, by one point (67-66) on the scorecards of judges Glenn Feldman and Dave Moretti.
Weeks’ questionable stoppage caused the second controversial conclusion to a Ward-Kovalev fight in less than seven months. Ward, of Hayward, California, defeated Kovalev by unanimous decision (114-113 on all three scorecards) in their first fight November 19 at T-Mobile Arena, but Kovalev, many media members and a large faction of fans felt Kovalev deserved to win.
Duva said she asked Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett to look at the available instant replays Saturday night to determine whether Ward fouled Kovalev. Bennett denied Duva’s request, but Duva said she would file an official protest with the NSAC on Monday.
“[Kovalev] got hit with three low blows, four actually, in the last round,” Duva said. “We asked the commission for an instant replay analysis. They did not give it to us. We will file a protest on Monday. If you look at the instant replay, which the commission refused to look at tonight, you see the back of Sergey’s cup go up one, two, three times. I’ve never seen someone knocked out on a low blow until tonight. And I have to say, I hope I never have to see it again.
“When the fight ended, Sergey was up on one of the cards and he was down by a point on the other two. The fight was very close. At the beginning of the round, a low blow was thrown. The referee did not protect Sergey. He waved him back to fight. Then the damage started happening. He got into that corner and he [was hit with] three low blows. When you see the replay, they’re hard to miss. It’s a shame. It’s a shame.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.