In the organic action of a fight- when one boxer is in the middle of throwing a punch and another fighter is moving to a certain position different to where he was before fighter A threw the punch, and fighter A’s punch ends up low-the punch is not an intentional foul. In the case of Andre Ward versus Sergey Kovalev, it was the punch at the end of a terrible beating Ward was delivering toward him, and the only definitively low blow he delivered in the fight.
Not since a coked up, sloppy Julio Cesar Chavez pouted through the final rounds to his loss to Frankie Randall has a fighter that good( Kovalev) put on a crying tantrum that bad in a fight. Only the drug that Kovalev was on was racism, the idea that no African American was tough enough to get in the ring and trade with him( least of all Ward, known for being an exquisite stylist). Well, on Saturday, Ward not only showed the gifts and style for the second stage of his career, he showed Kovalev that the east bay ain’t nothing to fuck with in the street fighter department. If Ward is not fluid, dancing maestro of his 20th, able to produce some of the best boxing performances in recent memory with his split second reflexes; then he is now a formidable, often brilliant boxer puncher, with enough speed and skill to outbox most champions, and enough power and guts to make them think twice about trading with him.
The shaky win he had over Kovalev in the first fight made a lot of people wistful for the Ward who fought Edwin Rodriguez and Chad Dawson, and i’m not alone in thinking that the Ward who fought in those fights was as spectacular as any fighter in this generation or the previous. The fear, after seeing Ward get knocked down and barely cobble enough rounds together to get a win, was that-because of age-we would never see Ward that great again. Technically we didn’t see Ward that great, but we did see was Ward remind the public that he was still a truly great fighter; a champion with more resources and skill than we thought he had.
The person we might not see even good again was his opponent. From his petering out in the championship rounds to the first fight, to the incredulous body language he showed when Ward engaged in a inside fight with him, Sergey Kovalev showed that he’s more interested in being a Trumpian racist henchmen on social media than a world class fighter. He might win another title, but he’s been exposed. Virgil Hunter was right, Ward punched the bully in the mouth and the bully withered on the ropes and whined about the ending. The way that his trainer, the gifted( and black) John David Jackson, disdainfully refused to stand up for him, showed that Kovalev has blown his chance for a hall of fame career. Excuse me if I can’t weep for the man about it, though.