In a rematch to one of the most controversial world title fights of 2016, Ward and Kovalev had another battle in Las Vegas for the unified light heavyweight championship.
And after wobbling Kovalev midway through the eighth round with a straight right hand, Ward finished the job with a series of powerful body shots - albeit with a suspicion of low blows. At a recent press conference that he abruptly walked out of, Kovalev pointed his finger at Ward and said, "I already said enough and I will prove it June 17". "I will finish his boxing career, be sure, because right now I'm in the corner", Kovalev said.
Ward was leading by one point on two of three judges' scorecards when the fight ended, while Kovalev had a three-point bulge on one card thanks to an effective early start.
The 33-year-old needed this victory to validate his first win as many felt Kovalev won that fight and that Ward had been given a gift decision by the three judges. Ward was considered someone who could frustrate Kovalev with his game, but early on it was Ward who was frustrated, and Kovalev's power really put him on his heels.
American Andre Ward (32-0) faced off Sergey Kovalev (30-2-1) of Russian Federation on Saturday live on HBO PPV.
"He hit with four low blows", Kovalev said. If he tries to get them by going into this too angry because he doesn't think he deserved to lose them, that's a mistake against Ward. "I just want to kick Ward's ass".
'I don't have anything on the books right now for a cruiserweight fight, a heavyweight fight.
They weren't low blows. I knew I had him. I wanted to continue fighting. Kovalev gave him the edge he needed. Kovalev was convinced he had won the first fight. The challenger, Kovalev is a man from another time as well as another place.
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Ward landed only 80 of 238 punches (34 percent); Kovalev landed 95 of 407 (23 percent).
Kovalev would not be the first boxer to drive a Hummer through standards of common decency, but the racist overtones and hints of homophobia leave him on the wrong side of public sentiment in this fight. But I knew what was going to happen because he (Ward) was healthy. Both boxers are 6-feet tall and Ward is about 11 months younger than Kovalev. "That one's probably borderline - he was hurt, I went right back there again, he wasn't reacting, right back there again and the referee stopped it". Kovalev, a former champion, will receive a percentage of the pay-per-view TV revenue, likely far less than what Ward received.
But Ward's achievements speak for themselves: an Olympic gold medallist, unbeaten as a professional and a two-weight world champion who has faced and beaten the toughest possible opposition. Who he fights next?
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