Ward won the pair's first meeting last November via a unanimous but tight decision, with Kovalev aggrieved at the result having knocked Ward down in round two, and the rematch was eagerly anticipated.
The California-native landed a massive right hand that stunned the Russian, and followed it up with a barrage to the body that forced Kovalev to his knees and referee Tony Weeks to stop the contest. Ward throws a big right hand, and looks to fight on the inside. So far, just like Ward vs Kovalev I, which also aired on HBO Pay-Per-View.
This time, the fight was close throughout the first six rounds, with Kovalev generally showing more aggression and ring control, while Ward used his movement and boxing skills to counterpunch effectively.
"We are boxers. I could still continue".
Ward was up by a point on two scorecards and down three points on the third going into the eighth. He now is really high, his nose, and walking everywhere and don't see the people around him.
As CBS Sports noted, it is expected to be a very close bout again but Ward can again seize the advantage if he dictates the style of the fight.
After the first fight, Sergey blamed the judges and asserted his team failed to condition him properly.
"Only a low blow (hurt me)", he added, before watching video of the end of the fight and observing: "Low blow - and I felt this". But Kovalev was fading, just as he had in the first fight, and he picked up the pace.
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"I don't think it'll be possible to keep you out of the No. 1 ranking, because of who you did it against", HBO's Max Kellerman told a scraped-up but beaming Ward in the ring.
The thrill of victory did not last too long as Ward was bombarded at the post-fight press conference with questions of the repeated low blows. I was better and he was better this fight. They can be just as painful as a hard low blow.
Kovalev had won the early rounds before Ward came back as Kovalev began tiring.
Ward is an old hand at the big show, undefeated, a world champion at super middle for seven years and now at light heavy. I knew he was hurt. Ward conversely knew where he was going, Every clinch, he battered the Russian's body from the inside.
Referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight with 31 seconds left in the eighth with Kovalev kneeling down from what he said was a low blow. "He didn't hurt me. I was a lot better prepared this time". "I give God glory for this victory".
Ward made $6.5 million, and Kovalev stood to earn a fraction of that because he was getting only a percentage of the pay-per-view and ticket sales. This time I will not be empty - Ward will be fighting Krusher. Ward is still the champion.
Ward cites the example of Roy Jones, who of course leaped to heavyweight to defeat John Ruiz, as proof that his dream isn't utter insanity.
The fight, slated for August 26, means precious few will watch promoter De La Hoya's event featuring Miguel Cotto and Yoshihero Kamegai on the same night.
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