Whicker: Andre Ward stops Kovalev in the 8th

Ward and his camp dismissed any idea that low blows were a factor, preferring instead to celebrate a win that put to rest any controversy over the judging in their first fight last November.

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. Each round in the duel was as close as they come as Kovalev was largely the aggressor behind his jab while Ward landed scattered blows between constant clinching. "I will finish his boxing career, be sure, because right now I'm in the corner", Kovalev said.

LAS VEGAS - After leaving no doubt who was the best light heavyweight around, Andre Ward talked about securing his place as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world and perhaps even one day moving up to heavyweight.

Ward enters the fight with an unblemished 31-0-0 record (15 knockouts), while Kovalev carries a 30-1-1 mark (26 knockouts) into the bout.

"Championship fights don't start until l the sixth round", Ward said.

"I knew this time it was going to be different", Ward said.

Andrew Ward (left) proved that his previous win over Sergey Kovalev was not a gift.

Ward and Kovalev have previously met, battling out on November 19 previous year.

The Cuban-born Rigondeaux was announced the victor, but after the fight Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett told broadcaster HBO that they might have to review the decision.

"I was empty one month before the November fight", he said.

Kovalev said he believed he could've continued even as he dropped forward tiredly into the perilous position.

He insisted across several press conferences and media sessions ahead of Saturday night's rematch with Sergey Kovalev that it would be he, and not the burly Russian, who'd end the fight via knockout. The difference this time around may have been Andre's ability to effectively counter the aggressive Kovalev as he pressed the action. I could have still been fighting.

"Kathy said, 'Bob, can't you take a look at the instant replay?' But the only way we can look at an instant replay is under one condition: when a punch or kick below the belt terminates the bout and the referee isn't sure whether it's a legal or illegal blow".

"Facing great fighters, you've got to raise your game to the next level and I'm thankful we did that tonight". And I thought Tony did a great job this time.

"I wouldn't say everything is happening too fast", said Bivol, who defeated Felix Valera in May 2016 to win the interim belt. “I dont feel like it affects me. Kovalev fought well enough to make it close. Ward is still the champion.

At the time of the stoppage, Ward was up on two out of the three judges scorecards.

But Ward's achievements speak for themselves: an Olympic gold medallist, unbeaten as a professional and a two-weight world champion who has faced and beaten the toughest possible opposition.

On the undercard, reigning WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs) faces Moises Flores (25-0, 17 KOs) in a 12-round title fight for the WBA junior featherweight title. A low blow - and I felt this.



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