By Blake "Racehorse" Chavez
Andre Ward defeats Sergey Kovalev. OK. Did he or didn’t he seems to be the question, and the answer is; no. Not a resounding no, but a "no’ nonetheless. Why "No"?
Because Ward was in retreat mode for the majority of the fight. He was stumbling in the first round due to a jab of all things. That tells you who was punching with authority.
He got cracked and dropped. Again, the authority question was answered. And that’s why Andre was in retreat mode. He felt it and so he knew it. The outcome being a bit muddled is due to the horrible job done by the referee, Robert Byrd, especially in the early rounds. In the first three rounds alone, Kovalev caught Ward coming in and tied him up no less than twenty-five times.
At least twenty of those times he put Ward in a headlock. Yes; a headlock. Look at the tape. Despite all the crying by Ms. Duva complaining about Ward wrestling and clinching, the truth is that it was Kovalev who was the major offender.
Interesting how that fact has been turned around and not disputed by Ward’s team and/or fans. Robert Byrd likes to cruise around and look cool. Hey, style points for the referee are meaningless. How about breaking the fighters after, let’s say, the sixth headlock and stopping the action... and warning Kovalev?
Then, let’s say, after the 6th headlock, stopping the action for another warning that includes the message, in no uncertain terms, that the next headlock will cost him a point?
To Ward’s credit he stayed focused and kept on keeping on, despite the repeated headlocks. Where the hell was Virgil Hunter? Why was he not scalding Byrd between rounds over those tactics?
Hill froze up, and Kovalev had his way the entire fight. Try fighting after being in thirty or forty headlocks and see what you got left.
That’s what drained Ward’s energy and subsequently marred his performance. His balls carried him to the heroic level he displayed, but he still got his ass kicked. John David Jackson is not Kovalev’s trainer.
The Russian in their corner is the shot-caller. Jackson was merely the water-boy, and he understood that. Kovalev barely even looked at Jackson between rounds. That tells me two things.
One, Abel Sanchez was correct when he intimated that Kovalev was an idiot who danced to his own music and thought he knew it all. And two, since Jackson had no control over Kovalev in training, that’s why JDJ can accurately say that Sergey can improve his conditioning.
Kovalev thought he was in terrific shape, but he wasn’t, and he was too arrogant and ignorant to trust in JDJ and allow himself to be pushed hard into mega-fight shape.
In short; Kovalev is a fool. Andre Ward is not, historically, an elite light-heavyweight. He struggles mightily to compete in that division. He’s a brilliant, top-five pound-for-pound guy at 168 pounds, but merely pedestrian at 175.
Manny Pacquiao defeats Jessie Vargas. So, what? Vargas got pummeled by Tim Bradley but landed a lucky shot at the end. He then turned into the town crier and, tooting his own horn, convinced himself he was a world-beater.
Then, after getting drubbed by PacMan, the guy preens like a peacock. He landed a few right hands on an old man. Stop the presses!
Manny Pacquiao defeats Timothy Bradley. Bradley has a sterling record but is not very entertaining nor particularly talented at welterweight. Like Ward, in a lighter division, he was brilliant.
No Thurman, Porter, Brook, Mayweather, Mosely, Cotto, Khan, or Maidana on his resume. PacMan is tired. Very tired. Entertainment value dipping fast. Please do not reward this guy with another hundred-million-dollar Mayday. He’s probably broke again already. His trainer Freddie Roach wants to send him to the slaughterhouse via Canelo for the bigger commission, but Arum will get PacMan seal-clubbed by Terrance Crawford instead.
Leo Santa Cruz TKO’s Kiko Martinez then loses to Carl Frampton. Kiko was easy/busy work. Frampton a strong, willing stud from over the pond pinned Leo’s ears back. Leo a pound-for pound consideration at bantamweight but just too sleight to be a dangerous featherweight.
Keith Thurman defeats Shawn Porter. "One Time" fought his ass off. Porter was Porter and acquitted himself well.
Errol Spence defeats Chris Algieri and Leonard Bundi. Spence is a serial killer; whoever he fights better bring their lunch and their mama. Neither Algieri nor Bundi have a future.
Gennady "GGG" Golovkin defeats Dominic Wade and Kell Brook. Wade a walk in the park. Brook put knuckles to "GGG" like nobody else has, then crumpled from the stress of paying the price for putting hands on Gennady. Sets up a swelled-headed and overconfident Brook to nub with Spence in a title defense. Could be fight of the year in 2017.
"Chocolatito” Roman Gonzalez defeats McWilliams Arroyo and Carlos Cuadras. Arroyo a soft touch but Cuadras busted up the dark one a little bit, though he lost on points. Jorge Linares defeats Anthony Crolla.
Linares is a gutty and talented lightweight warrior. Crolla nothing special; how much does Linares have left? Love to see Linares vs Lomachenko in ’17, though both at their best at 130 lbs.
Danny Garcia defeats Robert Guerrero and Sammy Vargas. The "Ghost" is a has-been and Vargas is a never-was. Al Haymon made Garcia wealthy. He and Andre Berto get special treatment.
Berto got a nice check in 16 for bitch-slapping Victor "The Quitter" Ortiz around.
Vasyl Lomachenko defeats Roman Martinez and Nicholas Walters. Martinez is a nice, durable, quality fighter. Loma owned him. KO. "The Axeman" turned out to be like The Tin Man from Oz; no heart. Loma is developing as a superstar pro at warp-speed. As long as he stays below 140 lbs he’s impossible to bet against.
Over 140, all bets are off.
Mikey Garcia defeats Elio Rojas. Mikey is a terrific fighter, but should have had two or three tune-ups instead of one before challenging for a title.
Long lay-off. His team not very smart and in a big hurry. Mikey smells big $$ at 140 and 147, the problem is he’s too slow at 140 and won’t have any power at 147. He’s a pound-for pound guy at 130, hitting with power and displaying the best fundamentals in the game. His downfall has always been his slow-feet. That’s God-given; can’t be taught. It’s also the reason Crawford beats Mikey, as does Loma.
Canelo Alvarez defeats Amir Khan and Liam Smith. Now that he’s super-experienced, Khan would be a pound-for-pound guy at 140 (can’t make the weight, but he murdered Maidana and was feasting on Swift when caught by that eyes-closed roundhouse) At 147, it’s over for him. Canelo got exposed by Khan as wearing cement-boxing shoes, but Alvarez’s power and size advantage pulled him through as he was getting a boxing lesson early. Liam Smith does not merit a comment.
Jermall Charlo defeated Austin Trout and Julian Williams. Trout a good trial-horse, Julian a young, fresh contender who got excess hype due to the love in the boxing world for his trainer, Breadman Edwards. The bread delivered by Edwards was rendered stale by Charlo, but it was about time one of the Charlo’s made a real statement.
Murat Gassiev defeated Jorden Shimmell and Denis Lebedev. Shimmell is forgotten and Lebedev soon shall be too. Gassiev part of the new strain of fighter making in-roads from the Russian territories.
Terance Crawford defeats Hank Lundy, Victor Postol, and John Molina. Nice job. Crawford, Lomachenko and Mikey Garcia rule today’s technical elites that don’t run, such as Rigondeaux and Erislandy. Lundy was a bit dangerous, Postol respected, and Molina just plain vomit. Crawford keeps making noise. Time to face an elite big-time opponent and leave Nebraska behind. Put on your big-boy pants.
Miguel Cotto, and Gary Russell Jr. along with Adonis Stevenson, Demetrius Andrade, Andre Dirrell, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Adrien Broner, "Kid"Chocolate, Andy Lee, Danny Jacobs, Lamont Peterson, did virtually nothing in 2016, either cashing one small check for an appearance or idling inactive on the sidelines.
Tyson Fury was fighting the coke pipe. Paulie Malignaggi is no longer a viable headliner and neither is Roy Jones, though they both have an unrelenting thirst for another paycheck. Marcos Maidana retired. Shane Mosley never will.
I hope to see the jewel of the Far East, Naoya Inoue, aka "Monster" invade the USA shores in 2017. Richard Schaeffer of Ringstar Sports is the smartest man in boxing bar none.
Keep your eye on him. Eventually, as he goes, so shall go the sport of boxing.
My top pound-for-pound fighters as we say goodbye to 2016: Gennady "GGG" Golovkin. Canelo Alvarez. Terance Crawford. Keith Thurman. Errol Spence. Vasyl Lomachenko Naoya Inoue. Sergey Kovalev. Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzales. Andre Ward.
My choices are based on the eye-ball test: sheer fighting ability. In other words, these guys just flat-out kick ass whenever they fight. Boxing has some scintillating stars poised to explode in 2017. Let’s all support the greatest sport on the planet to the best of our ability. Happy Holidays!
Whoops... Conor McGregor vs any respectable pro boxer is the biggest payday in sports for 2017. He teased us all in 2016, but in our hearts we all know the ballsy Irishman would get murdered by Floyd.
Blake "Racehorse’ Chavez answers all of his emails.