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.