“Welcome to Las Vegas.” How former USSR boxers were robbed in Sin City
Igor Nekrasov May 23, 2023, 21:15 Moscow time Audio version: Your browser does not support the audio element.
Lomachenko is not the first victim. Kovalev and Golovkin won’t let you lie.
Two days earlier, a huge boxing match was held in Las Vegas. US overall lightweight (up to 61.2 kg) champion Devin Haney defended his belts against two-time Ukrainian Olympic champion Vasily Lomachenko. The fight lasted all 12 rounds, so the judges gave the American the victory. This decision was received with hostility not only by the public present in the room, who booed the verdict, but also by many boxing stars. In his opinion, Lomachenko won, but the judges stole it corny. The same opinion is shared by former world champion Sergey Kovalev, who posted a funny image on social networks and recalled that Lomachenko was far from the first boxer from the former USSR to be robbed in Las Vegas.
Sergei Kovalev – André Ward
On November 19, 2016, the long-awaited duel of two undefeated light heavyweights took place in Las Vegas. Sergey Kovalev, who at that time had three divisional belts (WBA Super, WBO, IBF), entered the duel with the undefeated American Andre Ward, the 2004 Olympic champion. Crusher performed confidently: in the second round, Sergei sent Ward down. to the first knockdown of his career with a powerful counterpunch. Andre managed to recover, leveled the fight towards the end, but Kovalev still worked as the first number, he interrupted the opponent in the total number of punches thrown (474 against 373) and accurate blows (126 against 116). Ward outclassed Sergei only on the jab, which the American used throughout the fight.
The fight lasted all 12 rounds and the American judges delivered their verdict, which surprised Kovalev and most of the audience. On all the judges’ scorecards was a score of 114-113 in Ward’s favour: the American took the belts from Sergey and inflicted Crusher’s first loss of his career. Of course, such a court decision caused outrage not only among Russians, but also among many experts, including Western ones. So, for example, experts from ESPN and The Guardian counted 115-112 in favor of Kovalev, Associated Press – 116-111 in favor of Sergei.
The boxers’ contracts stipulated an immediate rematch, which took place on June 17, 2017…in Las Vegas. Already Ward went to fight in the rank of world champion in three versions, and Sergey – as a contender. Also at stake was the vacant title of world champion according to the authoritative magazine The Ring.
Refereeing that ruined Kovalev’s career. After that fight, Sergei was no longer the same.
Kovalev again confidently took the beginning of the battle, was more active, hit and hit more. In the second half of the fight, Sergei began to get tired, but continued to act his way. The key to the fight was in the eighth round, in which Ward managed to hit the Russian with a right hand. Sergei was on the ropes and the American continued to attack him. Ward delivered a series of body shots, several below the waist, which were centered by referee Kovalev. But referee Tony Wicks, instead of reprimanding the American, decided to stop the fight, arranging Andre Ward’s victory by technical knockout! After the fight, Kovalev was again indignant, Weeks himself apologized, but, of course, no one returned the belt to Kovalev.
Gennady Golovkin as Saul Alvarez
The next victim in Las Vegas was the representative of Kazakhstan, Gennady Golovkin. On September 17, 2017, the king of the middleweights fought modern boxing superstar Saúl Álvarez. Golovkin, 36, came into the fight with the Mexican with a perfect 37-0 record and plenty of world title defenses. Canelo, on the other hand, was 49-1-1 and continued to roam the weight classes in search of new titles.
With an eye for revenge. Golovkin-Alvarez fight ended in a draw
Golovkin dominated throughout the fight. Gennady worked as the first number, interrupted Álvarez (703 vs. 502 in punches thrown and 218 vs. 169 in accurate hits in favor of the Kazakh athlete) and forced Canelo to spend a lot of time behind the block. Saul only occasionally responded with flurries, but was mostly passive. The fight lasted 12 rounds, but, as many experts predicted, the verdict was in favor of Álvarez. Judge Adelaide Bird was the one who tried the most: she counted 118-110 in favor of Canelo, that is, she gave Golovkin only two rounds. The second referee counted 115-113 in favor of Gennady, and the third registered a draw – 114-114. Therefore, the fight was declared a draw.
Vasily Lomachenko – Devin Haney
Lomachenko’s defeat is still very fresh in my memory, so it is not worth dwelling on it for long. The Ukrainian outperformed his opponent, though not by much, in almost every statistical aspect. Vasily constantly moved forward, took the center of the ring and tried to crush the champion. But all this was not even enough for a draw: all the judges unanimously gave the victory to Haney, who could only boast of successful body shots and a ridiculous push at a press conference. Unfortunately, Las Vegas is definitely not the best place for boxers from the former USSR. And what can be done about it?