A crazy weekend between the ropes
Well, we had a busy and controversial weekend between the ropes. Along with a few left hooks, we had a lot of opinions, questions and accusations flying, as well. Let’s take a look…
Controversy reigns again. IBF, WBA and WBO light heavyweight boss Andre “S.O.G.” Ward scored a eighth round TKO over Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight after Ward hit a badly hurt Kovalev with three successive punches (that appeared to be low) causing him to slump forward. Weeks assumed Kovalev was hurt and couldn’t continue and stepped in to stop it. However, Weeks didn’t see the low shots that should have prompted a stoppage in the action and a warning to Ward. Ward was winning the fight on two of the official scorecards, at the time of the stoppage, and Kovalev clearly appeared hurt from a right cross that landed before the body shots that precipitated the stoppage.
After the fight, Kovalev called the stoppage “bullshit” and began lobbying hard for a rematch. (I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for the rematch, Sergey.) Naturally Ward felt the stoppage was the right call and appears to be looking at moving on to other things. He mentioned the possibility of moving up to cruiserweight or even heavyweight for the right fight.
- Speaking of controversy, WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux KO’d WBA interim super bantamweight titlist Moises Flores at the end of the first round. Unfortunately, it was literally at the end of the round, as the bell to signal the round’s conclusion had sounded. Both fighters threw a punch after the bell sounded but Flores’ punch did not land while Rigondeaux’s punch clearly landed after the bell, dropping Flores and ending the fight. Referee Vic Drakulich claimed he didn’t know if the punch landed after the bell or not. Then, after conferring with NSAC boss Bob Bennett, they phoned someone (I assume someone in the HBO truck?) and were then told (incorrectly) that the punch did indeed land before the bell (which replays showed was clearly wrong). The referee and commission appeared flustered and didn’t seem to know what to do, in the end, rendering the wrong decision. The question was never even raised if the punch was intentional (when they were looking at the punch as a potential foul). Then they went to a replay – are replays even allowed in boxing now? Although I believe the results would be the same, Flores deserves a rematch. In reality, the fight should have been declared a “no-contest” with a late (non-intentional foul) punch rendering one fighter unable to continue. You simply can’t win a fight on an illegal punch, accidental or not. (Editor’s note: As of press time, it seems the official result will soon be considered a no-contest/no-decision.)
The most interesting thing raised in the fight was in the post-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman, who was chatting with Rigondeaux. “El Chacal” said he would consider catchweight fights with former pound-for-pound king Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and current WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko. These are some interesting matchups and are good news for fight fans. Whatever Rigoneaux wants to do in his career, he should do it sooner than later. As great as Rigondeaux is now, he’s still 36 years old. Last I checked, Father Time was still undefeated.
- September is gonna be fly in Southern California! On Saturday, September 9, WBC world super flyweight champion Thailand’s Wisaksil Wangek – also known as Sriskaset Sor Rungvisai – will defend his title against former champion “Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, of Managua, Nicaragua. This is a rematch of their epic battle last March and will be the main event of an HBO tripleheader, live on “Boxing After Dark.”
Also featured is Naoya “The Monster” Inoue, of Yokohama, Japan, defending his WBO world super flyweight title against Antonio “Carita” Nieves, of Cleveland, Ohio.
Kicking off the telecast is former WBC world super flyweight champion Carlos “Principe” Cuadras, of Mexico City, who will tangle with former world flyweight champion Juan Francisco “El Gallo” Estrada, of Sonora, Mexico.
This article is dedicated to the memory of Canadian heavyweight fighter Tim Hague, who sadly passed away, after sustaining a serious head injury in a boxing match on Saturday night in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, especially his nine-year-old son.