The International Boxing Federation has a New Light Heavyweight Champion

November 21, 2016

By: Raymundo Dioses

Oakland, California’s Andre Ward was able to weather an early storm from former unified titleholder Sergey Kovalev which included a second round knockdown to dethrone Kovalev via unanimous decision on November 19, 2016 at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada in front of a spirited 13,310 fans.

Ward, (31-1, 15KO) was the challenger yet came in the favorite heading into the bout.  Kovalev was known to be the bigger puncher yet Ward sported the greater overall skillset, which he utilized to recover from the 2ndround knockdown from a big right hand from Kovalev to begin to beat the Russian champion to the punch and start to outland Kovalev down the stretch in route to all three judges seeing the bout in his favor by the close score of 114-113 after 12 mostly entertaining rounds.

CompuBox statistics had Kovalev out landing Ward 52 to 36 in the first six rounds yet Ward landed 80 punches to Kovalev’s 74 from rounds seven through twelve.  Kovalev landed a total of 126 of his 474 thrown punches for a 27% connect rate yet Ward landed 116 of 337 for a higher percentage of 34%.

Kovalev, (30-1-1, 26KO) began his career in 2009, registered his first career loss to Ward and was disappointed with the judges’ scorecards.  “It’s the wrong decision.  I don’t want to say my opinion… The witnesses are here.  They saw it.  It’s my job.  It was the fight of my life. I am disappointed in the judges’ decision.”    Kovalev won the IBF 170 pound title on November 8, 2014 via unanimous decision over future Hall of Fame inductee Bernard Hopkins and had made four successful defenses prior to the Ward bout.

Ward is a 12 year veteran of the sport and was a highly decorated unified champion in the super middleweight division yet had never previously held an IBF title.  Ward now becomes the companies’ 19th ever light heavyweight champion.  Michael Spinks became the original titleholder via 12 round unanimous decision on February 25, 1984.

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