Damn Good Fight: Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward Gave Boxing What It Needed

I don't care who you think won the fight. If you, the reader, comment on this post expressing agreement or displeasure with the fight, you will have swung and missed the point of this post by a wide margin. Saturday night, Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward provided much needed excitement to boxing. Saturday night, those two were a breath of fresh air to temporarily resuscitate what's perceived as a dying sport.

I stated in my last article about boxing that it is still alive and well, at least to hardcore followers. The problem is it has been unable to bring casual eyes to it, upping those good fights into mega ones. One reason I did not mention that adds to this conundrum is that the truly elite fighters seem hesitant to step into the ring with an opponent who is a serious threat to that zero in the loss column. I won't go too far and say most of the great fighters duck each other intentionally, but the are matchups that seem to be worked around.

I thought Ward was done after the knockdown. (Photo: thesun.co.uk)
I thought Ward was done after the knockdown. (Photo: thesun.co.uk)

Back to Saturday, we witnessed a great fight, in every sense of the term. There was early drama with Kovalev dropping Ward with a gorgeous right hand in the second round. Ward displayed his courage and brilliance to both stick to his plan and tweak it, even as Kovalev seemed to never be really bothered. The fight was so close that the decision was not concrete, despite all three judges having the same total score of 114-113. Most importantly, the fight was great because the fighters are great.

"Styles make fights" is a phrase that will float around boxing for as long as there will be boxing. The meaning behind it is that for any pugilist, no matter how gifted, there is an opponent who will give him trouble and even possibly beat him. This adds to the point in the earlier paragraph about crafting a boxer's career path. A fighter's camp knows its combatant's strengths and weaknesses, and also knows the landscape of potential opponents. So there is a chance two great fighters will have their careers run parallel, never crossing paths for various reasons. Ward and Kovalev did not care about any of that. Granted, this fight is at least two years past due, but it happened and happened while both of them are still at their peaks.

This fight was twelve rounds of art and science. (Photo: forbes.com)
This fight was twelve rounds of art and science. (Photo: forbes.com)

Boxing needs more of that. Losses to amazing fighters do not cheapen a great fighter's legacy. If there is no boxer with the perfect combination of ability and charisma to be the main cash cow, and most of the top fighters are more talent than showmen, the bigger paydays lie in the matchup. Forget about tailored styles. The best should fight the best. Yes, those bouts should happen when both competitors are ready. But there are plenty of "ready" fighters around the same weight. So there is no excuse that justifies why more of these mega fights of the most talented pugilists are not happening more frequently.

Yes, boxing needs a lift. And yes, the sport would be more appealing if someone was able to be incredible in and out of the ring. At least, for one night, we received a glimpse of what could happen if the politics are put aside, and greatness squares off against greatness. What a damn good fight last Saturday!

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