The Russian lost their first fight on points in November to relinquish the WBO, WBA and IBF light heavyweight titles to Ward, despite several pundits believing Kovalev was the victor.
Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) backed him into the ropes and landed three more left hands to Kovalev's gut, including a low blow that was not called by referee Tony Weeks.
After the fight, Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, who promotes Kovalev, said she will file a protest with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, claiming Ward landed several low blows without being penalized.?
"Hopefully, against a great fighter like Sergey Kovalev, we'll get our credit tonight and get atop that pound-for-pound list". You don't have to respect me and I don't demand anything, but at a certain point and time, you got to give a person their just do.
Dmitry Bivol, the WBA interim titlist, will make his Las Vegas debut when he faces Cedric Agnew in a 10-round bout at the Mandalay Bay Events Center during the HBO pay-per-view undercard of Ward-Kovalev. However, rather than calling a halt to the action, referee Tony Weeks saw that Kovalev's body language was that of a fighter who may have wanted out and called a surprising halt to the bout.
"It was a low blow, again another one", said Kovalev.
"I don't have anything on the books right now for a cruiserweight fight, a heavyweight fight". It doesn't mean you stop a fight every time somebody gets hurt. I just needed to keep being smart. "I'm the pro. World champion should fight everywhere". Kovalev doubled over in an effort to sway Weeks into calling a halt for illegal punches, but the veteran third man deemed them legal and chose to waive off the fight, much to Kovalev's dismay. Ward was the victor by unanimous decision after 12 rounds, becoming the undisputed light heavyweight champion.
Ward vowed before the fight to leave no doubt this time, after escaping with a win that many at ringside questioned in the first fight. You get to a place where you mature as a man, you mature as an athlete, and you make the decision that 'I'm going to live my life in the middle.' I appreciate the praises, but I can't get too high with those. "I could tell he was getting a little exhausted but he was still in there, was still fighting".
"Virg and I have been talking about moving up for a long time", Ward said. He's a great fighter; there's not a lot of people that elite. "I didn't want him to be comfortable and I don't think he was". Ward just beat the will and heart out of Kovalev.
Sergey has since deleted the video meme, but the backlash was swift from those who said that making it sound as if Ward - a devout Christian - dropped nonstop n-bombs was racist. "When I hit him with the last one he didn't react".
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