Kovalev vs Ward: Does Ward deserve pound for pound status?

Andre Ward (31-0, 15KO) survived a second round knockdown on his way to become the WBO, WBA and IBF Light-Heavyweight Champion by beating Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KO) on Saturday night in Vegas by a controversial unanimous points decision.

After a cagey opening round, the previously unbeaten Kovalev dropped Ward for the first time in his career, with well timed counter right hand. Ward recovered and took control of the fight late on, with all three judges scoring the fight 114-113 in favour of the classy American. Many felt that Kovalev had won the fight due to his high pressure style; however the judges clearly sided with Ward’s cleaner work and sharp jab, which was controlling the later rounds.

Not only were there titles on the line on Saturday night, the status of becoming the number pound for pound fighter was up for grabs. This ranking has been changing rapidly since the retirement of Floyd Mayweather. However, Ward will now claim that crown after this latest win, replacing Roman Gonzalez (46-0, 38 KO) atop of the list. Many will feel as if Gonzalez should have retained the number 1 position, following his impressive win vs Carlos Cuadras (35-1-1, 27 KO) in September. Others contenders such as Gennady Golovkin (36-0, 33 KO) will also feel they have a case to be listed as the best fighter on the planet.

However, although this win was not conclusive for Ward, his resumé is much stronger than those around him. A record consisting of wins over Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler and Arthur Abraham is mightily impressive and it seems unlikely that his unbeaten record will disappear any time soon. If not for his recent inactivity, he would likely have been firmly placed in this position well before this fight.

With a rematch looking increasingly likely, Ward will have another chance to set the record straight, and prove that he is the best fighter in the world. If he goes on to win for a second time, there should no longer be a debate.

Advertisements

How high-profile players have fared in their first managerial jobs

As the speculation around Steven Gerrard’s possible appointment at MK Dons intensifies, we look at how other high-profile players have fared in their job in management

Zinedine Zidane

It was no real surprise when club legend, Zidane, became the manager of Real Madrid Castilla in 2014. However his start in management was far from smooth. After an indifferent first season, reports suggested that Zidane was close to the sack. This didn’t happen and somehow he was promoted to first team manager after 18 months in charge. Zidane has flourished since his promotion, winning a Champions League trophy and equalling the record for consecutive Spanish league wins (16).

James Beattie

A far cry from the glitz and glamour of Madrid, Beattie took the reins of lowly League 2 side, Accrington Stanley in 2012. Beattie guided the club to an impressive 15th in both of his full seasons in charge, operating on one of the smallest budgets in the league. However a poor start to the following season saw him sacked just 6 league games. Despite this failure, Beattie is still regarded as a bright young coach, and is now working under Garry Monk at Leeds United.

113289052

Gus Poyet

After brief coaching spells at Swindon and Tottenham, Gus Poyet took his first managerial job at Brighton & Hove Albion in 2009. Poyet immediately spearheaded the clubs promotion to the Championship, with 13 games to spare! Soon after, Brighton became a strong force in the Championship, eventually losing to bitter rivals Crystal Palace in the Play-Off Semi-Finals. A fall out with the board led to Poyet’s sacking at the end of the season. Unfortunately, unsuccessful spells at Sunderland, AEK Athens and Real Betis has seen Poyet’s stock plummet at an extreme rate.

Gary Neville

After impressing in his punditry role on Sky Sports, Neville was unexpectedly appointed as the manager of Valencia in 2015. Performing this role alongside his coaching duties for England, Neville struggled greatly, winning only 10 of 28 games in charge. Fan protests and a 7-0 defeat to FC Barcelona made his sacking inevitable. Soon after, Neville and England were humiliated by Iceland in the European Championship, leading to his exit of this role as well. Since, Neville has stated that he does not envisage a return to coaching for some time.

John Barnes

After an illustrious playing career, John Barnes took over at Scottish giants Celtic in his first job in 1999. However, after an unsuccessful half a season, he was sacked and labelled one of the worst managers in the club’s history. 8 years later, Barnes returned to club management at Tranmere Rovers where he lasted even shorter, just 14 games! It should come as no surprise that Barnes has not managed since.

Injury-Prone Footballers – The Game’s Wasted Talents

As seen with Danny Ings’ injury this past week, injuries really can seem like a never ending cycle for some footballers, potentially ruining careers. This article will look at the top 5 English ‘sicknote’ footballers who frustrated their managers and fans alike with their lengthy spells on the sidelines.

  1. Ledley King

Prior to the 2006-2007 season, Ledley King was quickly emerging as one of the finest Central Defenders in the Premier League. However, a horrific injury to his knee cartilage meant his career would never be the same. From then on, King could only play every so often, depending on how quickly his knee would stop swelling after every game. Incredibly, his manager at the time, Harry Redknapp, revealed that King never trained in the week and would still play at the weekend. King retired aged 32, with many feeling barring injuries, he could have been one of the best in the world.

“He is the only guy who doesn’t hold players. He will get the ball off you without you even noticing. For me, that is a good defender.”

Thierry Henry on Ledley King

  1. Kieron Dyer

Once considered as the future of English football, Kieron Dyer’s career didn’t hit the heights that many had expected. Hamstring and knee injuries meant Dyer’s playing time became increasingly limited. Remarkably during his time at West Ham United, he cost the club £450,000 per appearance, and he only cost £6 million! Having only managed to make 77 appearances in his last 9 seasons, Dyer eventually ended his career. After showing so much promise at the start of his career, people will always wonder just how good Dyer could have become if his career wasn’t plagued by injury.

  1. Francis Jeffers

Prolific for Everton and England youth sides, Jeffers was one of the hottest young properties in English football. He then got his big move in 2001, when Arsene Wenger brought him to Highbury for a then whopping £8 million. Unfortunately for Jeffers the beginning of his spell at Arsenal was ruined by shoulder, ankle and hamstring injuries. Jeffers then failed to ever recover and left Arsenal after just 3 seasons. He then never rediscovered his form from Everton, and niggling injuries left him doing the rounds in the lower leagues of English football, and even Australia!

  1. Owen Hargreaves

Hargreaves had established himself as a regular for Bayern Munich in the early 2000’s, however his career soon became one of the game’s biggest cruelties. Countless injuries including adductor, thigh, leg, knee and hamstring problems meant that Hargreaves had quickly become the most injury prone player in the world. After just 5 appearances in his last 4 seasons of league football, Hargreaves retired having only made 173 league appearances in his entire career. This was a sad end for a player who had been named as England’s best player in the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

  1. Michael Bridges

As an 18 year old at Sunderland, Bridges saved the club from relegation and was considered to be one of the most promising strikers in the country. He then earned himself a move to Leeds United; where he went on to score 19 league goals in his first season, guiding the club to 3rd in the Premier League. Unfortunately Bridges dislocated his ankle in 2000, which was eventually the end of his career in the top level of the game. Much like Franny Jeffers, Bridges then began to ply his trade in the lower leagues of England and Australia. Unbelievably Bridges is still playing now, for Australian side Jambton Jaffas in the Northern Premier League NSW.