The Nevada State Athletic Commission should have a busy week reviewing one, and possibly two incidents from the Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev II fight card Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
The first involves a possible late punch by undefeated WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux at the end of the first round in his fight against Moises Flores. It was originally looked at and determined to be before the bell and Rigondeaux was credited with a knockout.
According to Bob Bennett, the executive director of the NSAC, the decision was made based on information he received from the sound trailer that the punch was thrown before the bell. Subsequent to the decision made by the referee, who is the sole arbitrator, it was brought to Bennett’s attention he had either received misinformation or perhaps didn’t hear that person correctly on the phone, but he doubts the latter.
Bennett told USA TODAY Sports that he reviewed the tape Sunday morning, and the punch was thrown after the bell rang.
“So it will go to the (attorney general’s) office, we’ll review it and will present it to chairman Anthony Marnell III and a couple of commissioners to see if we want to overturn that ruling,” Bennett said. “The referee (Vic Drakulich) has recommended a no-decision based on the fact that that punch was after the bell and was not intentional. It was an unintentional punch.
“I’m working today, I’ll meet with the attorneys tomorrow, I’ll meet with Chairman Marnell (Monday) and we’ll do our best to expedite the matter because only the commission can vote to overturn it. By law we have to give a three-day working window to the public for a public hearing. If all goes well we’ll have a hearing on Friday.”
The other incident happened in the main event, where light heavyweight champion Andre Ward scored an eighth-round technical knockout against Sergey Kovalev.
Kovalev complained about several low blows, including a few right at the end just before referee Tony Weeks waved off the fight.
Kovalev’s promoter, Kathy Duva of Main Events, has indicated that she will protest the decision on Monday and seek a disqualification. Bennett said he believes the punches, with the possible exception of one, were at the beltline and thus legal.
“In all fairness to Kathy, she’s upset. It’s her fighter,” Bennett said. “I felt we had it right the first time. And I thought Tony did a great job this time. I’ve reviewed the fight this morning. I looked at those punches that were allegedly low, and even spoke to (HBO’s) Tom Hauser, who sent me a video, saying one of those punches was low but it was very hard to determine because Kovalev’s arm was by his waist, and the punch looks like it comes up underneath and hits on the belt line.
“Kathy said, ‘Bob, can’t you take a look at the instant replay?’ But the only way we can look at an instant replay is under one condition: when a punch or kick below the belt terminates the bout and the referee isn’t sure whether it’s a legal or illegal blow.”
Bennett told Duva that Weeks hadn’t requested to look at the replay for any of those punches but as a courtesy Bennett told Weeks there were concerns for low blows. I asked him, ‘Do you want to look at the instant replay, and he said no. He said I’m satisfied they were on the beltline.’ And it was clear from my viewpoint that the punches were on the beltline.
“It’s rather interesting at the end that when Ward hits him in the stomach at the end, he sat on the ropes. And the punch looked good. Weeks was in good position to see where those blows landed and they’re right on the belt line. Are they close? Sure. But do they look good? Yeah. Did he have one or two low blows where Tony told him to keep them up? You could argue that he did. But at the same time you could argue that Kovalev put Ward in numerous headlocks and Tony had to reprimand both of them. I think the stoppage was good. (Kovalev) was hurt by a tremendous right cross by Ward in the eighth round, and it went from one side of the ring to the other, with Ward doing a lot of damage to the body. And Tony believes those punches were on the belt.”
Bennett said he told Duva that the referee is the sole arbitrator and Weeks was not interested in reviewing it because he didn’t think it was a controversial call and he thought the punches were good.
“Tony is a world-renowned ref, and I back his play 100 percent,” Bennett said. “I usually don’t comment on what the media or the announcers say because it could swing both ways for us or against us.
“We don’t have a vested interest. We’re not emotionally involved.”
Bennett said Duva can go forward with her protest, but under Nevada code 467, the referee’s the sole arbitrator. “We will respectfully and professionally entertain her protest and I will forward it to our legal counsel for review, and if that comes to fruition then we will make our determination,” he said.
Source: Bob Velin| USA Today