That wasn't glee on his face when it was announced that he had beaten Sergey Kovalev 114-113 on all three of the judges' cards, making him the WBA, WBO, and IBF light heavyweight champion of the world - it was shock. Maybe economics was a factor in the back of their minds, knowing that Ward was the house fighter and giving him the benefit of the doubt would lead to the greater likelihood of future house promoter's requesting their services, as opposed to the judges being "paid off".
Ward seemed to be wobbled by jabs in the first two rounds and then went down hard on the seat of his trousers when Kovalev landed a lead right to the nose.
"I have been a champ before, I knew it was going to be a tough fight".
"You saw what happened", said an astonished Kovalev after the decision.
Before the twelfth and final round, Ward's trainer Virgil Hunter told his charge, "You got to go out like a dog...this is it!" believing he needed a knockout to win the fight.
In the end, Ward won a narrow decision Saturday night to take Kovalev's light heavyweight titles in a battle between two unbeaten boxers. And through almost the halfway point, despite Ward making some adjustments in the 3rd that perhaps saw him win that round and the 5th, Kovalev was outboxing Kovalev in toto.
Kovalev was desolate: "I lost maybe three rounds". But Ward quieted the action in the next two rounds and then worked his way into the fight. "I was able to break him down", said Gvozdyk (12-0, 10 KOs). And Ward at times barreled into Kovalev, as if he had practiced tackling drills during training camp. Although some may feel he lost the decision, there is no questioning Ward's heart. Perhaps the judges gave more weight to Wards (admittedly fewer) landed punches, or they didn't want to render an unpopular verdict and were swayed by the crowd. Despite Perez's dominant display, and Hooker's failure to perform on the big stage, the judges still had Hooker's back.
"I thought I won and from what I heard it was fair scoring", Ward said. Starting in round six, Ward's jab and hold strategy began to pay off in dividends as it both scored and flustered the Russian.
As everyone in the boxing world argues the decision, the one thing that is inarguable was how entertaining the fight was.
"I'm glad to see two guys step up and fight each other at the peak of their careers and us what give the fans asked for", said Jones. I know it was a close fight. "I'm really upset. I'm very disappointed in the job the referee did". Many writers have pegged Nicaraguan flyweight Roman "Chocolatito" González as the current number one heading into tonight, but did Ward's performance warrant putting him on top of the sport's Mount Olympus? "I got up off the canvas and won ugly", said Ward.
Shields, who became the first American woman to win a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics and added another in Rio in August, had vowed to be impressive in her first pro fight. "People think I don't have a lot of experience, but I had over 250 amateur fights".
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