American boxer Andre Ward kept his IBF (International Boxing Federation), WBA (World Boxing Association) and WBO (World Boxing Organisation) titles by stopping Russian brawler Sergey Kovalev in the eighth round of their light heavyweight rematch on Saturday.
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. The rematch seemed just as close until Ward landed the right hand that caused Kovalev's legs to wobble.
In the eighth and final round, Ward connected on a handsome right hand that stunned Kovalev, who tried to come back with a left hand to little effect. There were low blows. The Kovalev camp wasn't happy about several shots by Ward that were either on or below the equator.
Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev met in one of the biggest fights of the year in November 2016.
The clinches initiated by Ward, most of the time, were an avenue for his body punches to find their way home from the inside.
On the Ward vs. Kovalev undercard, unbeaten Cuban gold medal Olympian and WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs) returns the boxing ring, and will take on fellow unbeaten fighter Moises "Chucky" Flores (25-0, 17 KOs). I'll stick with Ward in another close decision.
"I'm ecstatic, I'm happy".
"Some people thought I won, some people thought I lost".
If the matchup isn't attractive enough, the two fighters have a genuine dislike for each other they were not afraid to voice this week. That's why I want to face the best, to be the best. "I don't have a vote, I keep saying that". He's been on top for a long time. "[Kovalev's] a great fighter". I'm not going to throw him under the bus even though they did a lot of different things. I wanted to continue fighting. "No disrespect to Stevenson but I haven't even been thinking of him". "It would have to be against the right guy but I don't put a limit as to what I'm capable of".
Without any hesitations, we might say that Kovalev was robbed last night. "I'm comfortable being uncomfortable; that's how we work, that's how we train". I take nothing from him. "I said Andre was in the best shape of his life and that he was as motivated as he has ever been for a fight in his life". I'm not a person that demands respect or none of that. Now he's a good kid, he's swell but I'm telling you. He suggested possibly fighting at cruiserweight or heavyweight if the right opportunity comes up. It happened. That's always been a dream of mine and that's something me and Virgil [Hunter, his trainer] talk about. I got off to a better start. "I'm going to enjoy my family, kiss my wife and we out". And, if you choose to make a defense for Kovalev's plodding battle plan, there were definitely the low blows. The ref didn't call them.
He continued: "With all the excuse making and all the things he's been saying since the last fight, those are some deeper issues". "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".