At the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Andre Ward shunned his doubters by not only beating Sergey Kovalev, but stopping the former Light Heavyweight champion in the 8th round. Some debate may follow, however, surrounding the premature time of the stoppage, and even the placement of Ward’s body shots that set up the bout’s conclusion.
Prior to referee Tony Weeks’ final intervention, Kovalev had been troubled by a body shot/low blow, a knee-buckling straight right to the jaw, and finally another body shot/low blow, which, according to a post-fight replay, appeared to land about as close as can be to the groin region.
So, with yet more controversy thrown into the pot, a whole lot of verbal swiping is surely about to begin between Kovalev and Ward supporters, and all the more so since Kovalev insisted it was in fact a low blow that had him doubled over moments before Weeks stepped in.
Ward now moves on with his unbeaten record intact, building to 32 wins, no defeats, 16 knockouts, having retained his WBA, WBO, IBF Light Heavyweight titles. Kovalev now picks up his second back-to-back loss, dropping to 30 wins, 2 defeats, 1 draw, 26 knockouts.
As for the rest of the action beforehand, it was plenty entertaining, with both fighters engaging in a furiously competitive sequel. The early sessions did not mirror the Kovalev domination witnessed in their tango last November. Kovalev was accurate, landing with thudding jabs and enough right hands to mark up his man, but Ward, who had Kovalev dabbing at his right eye, began edging the action at BB from the 4th round onwards, leading at 68-65 going into the 8th.
What happens next is anyone’s guess. Will the public be clamouring for a third installment? Is Ward the undisputed numero uno on the Pound for Pound scene? And how will Kovalev respond following the first knockout defeat of his pro career?
Ward vs Kovalev II: Undercard
- Guillermo Rigondeaux (18-0, 12 KO) kept hold of his WBA Junior Featherweight title in dubious circumstances – depending on your opinion – with Rigondeaux knocking out challenger Moises Flores (25-1, 17 KO) with a left hook on/after the bell to close the 1st round. This was never considered a highly significant fight in the big scheme of things, but the referee’s painfully long discussions with ringside officials post-fight will be remembered in the coming week.
- Dmitry Bivol (11-0, 9 KO) brought the fireworks against experienced Light Heavyweight campaigner Cedric Agnew (29-3, 15 KO), dropping Agnew in the 1st round before dominating and bagging a 4th round stoppage.
- Middleweight climber Luis Arias (18-0, 9 KO) knocked down Arif Magomedov (18-2, 11 KO) in the 5th round en route to finding a stoppage victory.
- Vaughn Alexander (10-0, 7 KO) bettered an overmatched Fabiano Pena (19-7-1, 15 KO) through four one-sided rounds, with Pena’s corner throwing in the towel to halt the Middleweight encounter.
- Super Middleweight prospect Junior Younan (12-0, 9 KO) did what was expected against journeyman Zoltan Sera (29-14, 20 KO), clocking up an opening round stoppage.
- Tramaine Williams (11-0, 4 KO) made quick work of Christopher Martin (30-9-3, 10 KO), forcing a 2nd round stoppage in their Featherweight affair.
Spill your opinions on Ward vs Kovalev II below, plus the rest of the night’s busy card.