The rematch of the unified light-heavyweight championship bout between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev on June 17, 2017 could not end without yet another controversy as referee Tony weeks stops the fight at round 8 to give Ward a sweet TKO victory over the Krusher.
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. [Kovalev] got hit with three low blows, four actually, in the last round.
"He's a great fighter, not a lot of people are going to beat him", Ward said. "Great fighters have to raise their game to the next level, and that's what I had to do tonight".
As Kovalev lurched around the ring, Ward trapped him in the corner and rammed in a succession of shots around the belt line and the shaken fighter was sagging on the ropes as Weeks swiftly signalled the finish.
Kovalev had won the early rounds before Ward came back as Kovalev began tiring.
The talk in Sergey Kovalev's camp, meanwhile, was about protesting the outcome of Saturday night's fight because the referee did nothing about borderline low blows that helped bring the fight to an end in the eighth round. Much like the first bout, Kovalev and Ward battled at a grueling pace through the first seven rounds in another razor close fight.
I don't think a third fight will realistically happen, not straight away at least, but perhaps it could still happen in time if both men continue to sit on top of the light-heavyweight division. Why did Tony Weeks stop the fight?
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Had he survived the round, a hurt and faded Kovalev would have entered Round 9 down by three points on two scorecards against an opponent who was getting stronger and starting to land bombs - to the body AND head. "I was winning the round, and he waited for after the bell to throw a punch when I dropped my hands down".
Kovalev, a Russian who lives in Los Angeles, had complained bitterly about the scoring in the first fight, though he appeared to run out of gas as the fight went on. This is (expletive). I could have continued.
But for Ward, the big thing was the plan. "I am exhausted of the press and everyone saying I am boring". Kovalev promised to make the "paper champion" pay for the first fight.
Indeed, the win boosted Ward to 32-0 and marked his 16th stoppage in a career that's now six months past its 12th birthday, stretching back to when he came out of the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece, with the only USA boxing gold medal. But the shots forced Kovalev to bend over, and he looked spent, so Weeks jumped in and waved off the fight at 2 minutes, 29 seconds.
'I know it sounds insane when you're light-heavyweight and I'm not the biggest light-heavyweight.
It led to bitter feelings on both sides - Kovalev feeling he was robbed, and Ward feeling he got no credit for the victory. I didn't feel that hurt. For the most part, he was a one punch wonder - step, step, punch. "I thought I was doing very good".
The 33-year-old screamed to the world that he is now the undisputed No 1 following his conquering of Kovalev. Ward conversely knew where he was going, Every clinch, he battered the Russian's body from the inside. Who knows? He will enjoy the moment.
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