By Keith Idec
Part of Sergey Kovalev is disappointed that Andre Ward announced his retirement from boxing Thursday.
Just last weekend, Kovalev discussed his desire to land a third fight against Ward at some point. That third fight might never have happened, however, thus Kovalev is looking at Ward’s retirement as a positive for the entire light heavyweight division.
Russia’s Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) discussed Ward’s retirement during a press conference Thursday in Manhattan to promote his November 25 fight against Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (19-1, 16 KOs) in The Theater at Madison Square Garden (HBO).
“If it’s 100-percent true, it’s good for the boxing,” Kovalev said. “You know, because it’s good for the boxing. We’re ready to fight again for these titles and it makes interesting fights between great fighters. Right now, in our division [there are] a lot of good and strong fighters who wants to get these titles, you know? And this will be very, very good fights for the boxing fans.”
By retiring, the 33-year-old Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) gave up the IBF, WBA and WBO light heavyweight titles. The Hayward, California, native retired as the consensus No. 1 boxer, pound-for-pound, in the world as well.
The 2004 Olympic gold medalist capped his career with back-to-back victories over the previously unbeaten Kovalev. Ward won a close unanimous decision against Kovalev in their first fight, November 19 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and stopped Kovalev in the eighth round of their rematch June 17 at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Both wins were considered controversial, though.
Many media and fans think Kovalev deserved the win in their first fight, in which Ward recovered from a second-round knockdown and later out-boxed Kovalev. Their rematch ended right after Ward landed multiple questionable body blows, which caused Kovalev’s team to file a protest with the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
When asked Thursday if being denied a third shot at Ward is disappointing, Kovalev replied, “Yes and no. If this fight can happen very quickly, I’m happy.
“If it’s a long time waiting, and just to fight close to titles, it’s no good. I wanna be best in this division and I wanna fight with the best fighters in this division.”
Kovalev isn’t sure, either, if the timing of Ward’s announcement, on the same morning as the press conference to announce his next fight, was strategic.
“I don’t know,” Kovalev said. “I don’t think about him at all because I’m looking forward to get my goals. What was my last two fights, it’s already history. I forgot about this.”
Kovalev acknowledged, though, that, “His team and himself, they can play mentally the games. They did it before the rematch. I don’t know. I don’t care at all.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.