Kovalev v Ward – Post Fight
By Neel Khagram
20th November 2016

Andre Ward survived an early knockdown to edge out Sergey Kovalev and become the unified Light Heavyweight champion of the world.  All three judges at ringside scored the bout 114-113 to the American in a fight which could have gone either way.

The previously unbeaten Kovalev looked noticeably bigger than his opponent before the first bell and started the sharper, landing a solid jab in the opener which momentarily stiffened Ward’s legs.  Drama then ensued in the second round as Kovalev threw a one-two (jab-right hand) combination which dropped Ward to the canvas for only the second time in his career.  Ward survived the round but things were looking ominous for the self-proclaimed ‘’Son Of God’’ as Kovalev was getting through his normally impregnable defence.

Round three was more positive for Ward as he scored with several jabs to take the session.  However, one could sense that the Russian was at ease with the way the contest was playing out, negating a lot of Ward’s famed inside work and getting through with enough power shots, including a cute right uppercut in the fourth to take control of the fight.

The middle rounds were much closer, with Ward winning the fifth with the jab and Kovalev edging the sixth after landing two rights hands.

Momentum then shifted in Ward’s favour as his superior ring generalship started to come to the fore in the second half of the fight.  He displayed a wide variety of attack up close and at range to both head and body with a mixture of jabs and check hooks in rounds seven, eight and nine which all served to slow the early Kovalev onslaught down. 

As the bout entered the championship rounds the fight was still anyone’s to take.   ‘Krusher’ started the tenth with far more urgency and landed several jabs as he tried to wrestle back the initiative.  Ward though was answering back everything coming his way, connecting with a short left hook and drawing blood from the Kovalev nose in what was a difficult three minutes to score. 

The eleventh and twelfth were similarity close as the pair exchanged several scoring shots, with Ward probably edging both with a double left hook combination to the body and head in the penultimate round and superior inside work in the last.

On victory, Ward can now claim to be the best fighter on earth having unified titles in two different weight classes.   A rematch next year with Kovalev seems inevitable given the way the fight played out in what was an absorbing contest for the boxing purist. 

​​Lomachenko v Walters / Flanagan v Cruz – Preview
By Neel Khagram
22nd November 2016

This weekend, super featherweight sensation Vasil Lomachenko makes the first defence of his WBO title against big punching Nicholas Walters in a mouth-watering clash.

Lomachenko is arguably one of the greatest amateur boxers to have ever laced up the gloves.  Having won two Olympic gold medals, he finished with an unprecedented record of 396 wins against 1 loss; avenging his only blemish twice. 

His stock in the professional ranks is equally as mesmeric. Having fought for the world title in his second bout and narrowly losing a split decision, the Ukrainian beat the talented Gary Russel Jr in his comeback before acquiring a world championship at featherweight and at super featherweight in fights four and seven respectively.

Perhaps Lomachenko’s greatest test will come in the shape of the unbeaten Walters.  The former super featherweight WBA champion is naturally bigger and has a reach advantage over his opponent. If Walters is able to cut the ring off properly and unload when the pair stand in the pocket then he could cause problems.  If he doesn’t and allows Lomachenko room to hit and move then it could be a very long night for the Jamaican. 

On the same night in Cardiff, Terry Flanagan makes the fourth defence of his WBO lightweight belt against Orlando Cruz. 

The Mancunian is looking to land himself a career defining fight against one of the other champions in the weight after notching up impressive wins against Diego Magdaleno and Derry Matthews.  A derby showdown with Anthony Crolla also appeals, but ‘’Turbo’’ must not overlook Cruz if his lofty ambitions are to be achieved. 

The Puerto Rican challenger possess sound amateur pedigree having represented his country at the 2000 Olympic Games and has fought for the world title. Weight may be his undoing as the fight goes on though given much of his career has been at fought at the featherweight and super-featherweight limit.​

Lomachenko v Walters / Flanagan v Cruz – Post Fight
By Neel Khagram
27th November 2016

Vasyl Lomachenko successfully diffused and out boxed big punching Nicholas Walters to retain his WBO super featherweight title. Reminiscent of Roberto Duran’s actions against Ray Leonard all those years ago, Walters quit on his stool at the end of the seventh round in a disappointing and anti-climactic ending.

The opener started off extremely cagey with both fighters trying to compute what the other was bringing to the table. In a difficult round to score, it was Lomachenko who shaded it with the greater work in the last thirty seconds of the session.

The second was similarly close. Walter’s threw an uppercut up close, but it was Lomachenko’s boxing ability which allowed him to land more scoring shots and win the round.

Walter’s best moment of the fight came in round three as he landed a right uppercut to his opponent’s body followed by a chopping right hand to the head. However, this was as good as it got for ‘’Axe Man’’ as Lomachenko served to put on a boxing clinic from then on. He won the fourth with greater inside work and the fifth by upping the tempo and letting his hands go at range.

The Jamaican challenger was cutting a frustrated figure by the time the fight entered the sixth round as he simply could not get his attacks off, and was now eating a lot more punishment from the elusive champion.

Lomachenko then stamped his authority on the contest further by teeing off on Walters from all angels in the seventh. Despite this assault, no one expected Walters to pull out of the fight at the end of the round which did little credit to himself or the watching public.

For Lomachenko, the display reaffirms his standing as one of the best fighters in the world today. The Ukrainian will go onto bigger fights, with a possible blockbuster at 140lbs against living legend Manny Pacquiao muted.

On the same night in Cardiff, Terry Flanagan stopped Orlando Cruz in eight rounds to successfully defend his WBO lightweight championship. In truth, the fight was not competitive as the Mancunian dominated every round before the stoppage.

It was a disappointing display from Cruz who was bidding to become the first openly gay boxer to win a world title. However, he failed to commit himself to any attacks and struggled moving out of range as Flanagan’s size came to the fore. The end came in the eighth when Flanagan knocked his opponent down to the canvas twice, forcing the referee to wave off the contest.

Flanagan will hope to be involved in bigger fights next year with the likes of Crolla, Linares, Garcia or Zlatican all on his wish list.