News Worthy

Ward v Kovalev II: Trilogy

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This is my anthology
A dark apology
A child prodigy pot-shotted by poverty

*** *** ***

You may not really know.
To know Main Events, is to know a different ABC station and Wide World of Sports. To become wholly familiar with the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” It is to both know and understand the remarkable journey of Mark Breland, Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker and Meldrick Taylor.

Olympians. Champions.

Legendary trainers Lou Duva (you are missed) and Georgie Benton (so are you) help mold boys from the urban ghetto into ring immortals.

And Dan Duva (you are missed too), along with his wife Kathy, helped to bring them into our living room, where me and my friends watched on television sets with aluminum foil on the antenna.

When they left network TV, I turned to the radio and Tupac Shakur. He was… Angry. I angrier than he ever was when he was murdered.

That was then. This is now.

__________________

“I’ve done this- I hate to admit, for 40 years. I was three when I started,” said a tongue-in-cheek, Erin Brockovich-like fight game survivor, Main Events CEO Kathy Duva from Los Angeles on Wednesday.

“I was the youngest publicist in the history of boxing. My job as publicist is to deal with you, the press. I know that you don’t make a fortune. I know that most of you do this the same reason I do, for love. We are afflicted by this disease. You come out here, most of you on your own dime, on your own time. Nobody here is going to be a millionaire yet you come and have the same passion as we do. You cover this sport so closely because you share that passion. I want you to know how much Sergey Kovalev and Main Events appreciate that. We’re never going to forget you.”

And in the words of our fallen soldier, 2Pac: “You are appreciated.”

What many fans of Andre Ward, lead soldier of Jay-Z’s ROC Nation, cannot (or perhaps, will not) forget is a t-shirt Kovalev chose to wear in almost full regalia while next to a child with a smiling face. There, a jovial Kovalev, can be seen grinning like the black gorilla in boxing gloves eating a banana all over his chest. The t-shirt became symbolic rhetoric in the fight game, much like President Trump’s infamous “Make America Great Again” red hat with ties to Nazi Germany had.

But that didn’t stop Andre Ward’s Manager, James Prince, from calling on the support of Trump while castigating Team Kovalev as villainous Russians. Somehow, whether we are keen to admit it or not, we are all part of the same hypocrisy when it comes to judgment; which is why I hope both Ward and Kovalev will do the best they can to keep June 17 out of the hands of any judge, whether he or she is from Greenland or Antarctica.

We saw three very different versions of Ward V Kovalev II: “The Promotion” as it was a tale of three cities.

At Le Parker Meridian in New York City on Monday, its important to understand that both camps were seeing each other in front of assembled media for the first time since November 19, 2016. On that night, Kathy Duva and Sergey Kovalev sat on top of the ring where they’d just been defeated by the narrowest of margins, and vocally protested the result as unacceptable. I was at the fight and among the post fight media who did indeed feel he’d won the fight. Kathy was very angry; Kovalev, more or less, a sort of puzzled bewildered. They were the exact reverse on Monday.

What I remember of Andre that night, was a man of beaming relief in sunglasses while seated with his child on his lap. I shouted to him from the back of the room, if he thought he’d just earned the title of pound-for-pound best. “I hope so man… I hope so. But that’s not up to me,” said Ward that night. On Monday, he both sounded and looked like a man who wanted to make sure that distinction is entirely up to him on June 17.

The only thing about him that changed in his native Oakland and Los Angeles, was clothing style and fashion. The same can be said for Kovalev, but only from the aspect of the style and fashion in which he presented himself.

The angry suit of insecurity he wore in New York was still almost the same in Oakland. Let’s say he took off the jacket and loosened his tie. In Los Angeles, just two days later, he was in figurative jeans and a plain t-shirt, sans any monkey business. He stopped hiding in Russian and spoke in an English we could appreciate, perhaps at the behest of trainer Egis Klimas, who reminded us that “The Greatest”, Muhammad Ali, had tasted defeat but refused to swallow it. Kovalev vows to eat Ward alive.

There is no glory on the canvas, that can only come from the one’s we paint in universal colors. The eye does not need a translator, for on June 17 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, we will know who the better artist is between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev.

There will be no need for a trilogy.

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