Andre Ward Andre Wards, Stops Sergey Kovalev

Andre Ward Andre Wards, Stops Sergey Kovalev

Ward fought an empty Kovalev.

Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) and former titleholder Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) opened Fight Week Powered by Monster with their Grand Arrivals at Mizuya Lounge at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Tuesday, June 13, ahead of their ultimate rematch on Saturday, June 17 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

But although Ward earned the victory, it did not come without a cloud of controversy, with many scorers claiming that Kovalev should have in fact been the victor.

At the time of the finish, Ward was winning the fight on the official judges' scorecards, leading in two of the three cards (67-66, 67-66, 68-65).

It was thought by many that the stoppage by the referee was a bit premature but most likely Ward was well on the way to stopping Kovalev anyway. Ward then exploded unexpectedly in the 8th round with a big right hand that staggered Kovalev. A very quick left jab. Why did Tony Weeks stop the fight?

Kovalev, 34, a native of Russian Federation, didn't immediately protest the stoppage but later voiced his anger during a post fight interview.

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"Only a low blow [hurt me]".

LAS VEGAS - As she sat in front of a group of reporters in a quiet conference room, attempting to make one last sales pitch for Saturday's rematch between unified light heavyweight world titlist Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev, Main Events CEO Kathy Duva simply sighed and shook her head as she felt the wheels coming off the train.

“I am looking forward to making a statement in this fight, and removing any doubt that may be out there, ” Ward said. “I dont feel like it affects me. However the beef has continued to build up, with issues like racism and revenge clouding the air between the two boxers. "I'm not into taking two (punches) to get one". Yes, he did punch me, but he didn't hurt me. I believe that I won the fight. Why stop the fight? "I want to prove I belong here". They've put a line through his chances to cause an upset inside-the-distance however, and I must say I don't blame them. "He just didn't react, and the referee stopped it". In fact, the last time Ward was able to get an opponent out of there before the end, he was looking down on Englishman Paul Smith in California, knocking Smigga into a ninth-round submission nearly exactly two years ago. Ward followed up by insinuating that he's going to make Kovalev pay for what he considers undeniably racist. "Now what he needs to do is be more aggressive and effective in the second half of the fight the way he did in the first half of the fight".

'I'm going to take it as I get it - it's a unsafe sport man, ' Ward told Sky Sports.

Anyone who has boxed before will insist body shots hurt more than head shots.

"He was reacting to my body shots, and I knew I had him and I knew he was hurt", Ward said. Kovalev threw the greater volume of punches but after the early knockdown met with what has become an industry difficulty, finding it hard to land clean shots on a notoriously awkward target.