Andre Ward Stops Sergey Kovalev By 8th Round TKO

Kovalev did his best to hold on but was hit low for the third time without losing a point. Ward wasn't talking that way Saturday night.

Ward completed the turnaround with a big right hand that wobbled Kovalev in the eighth, then swarmed all over him, landing shots to the body when Kovalev sat on the ring rope, forcing referee Tony Weeks to signal an end to the bout. The first appeared to land directly on Kovalev's waistband, while the subsequent two strayed a shade lower-prompting the challenger to lurch forward and referee Tony Weeks to intervene at 2:29.

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

"He's really lucky, 'Son of Judges, ' " Kovalev said of Ward, twisting Ward's "Son of God" nickname.

Both fighters swing and miss.

Last November's title fight between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev was one of the most controversial in boxing a year ago.

Regardless of the Kovalev camp trying to stir a controversy over the borderline shots, Ward was the deserved victor.

"I couldn't believe it, I could win", he said. "Great fighters have to raise their game to the next level, and that's what I had to do tonight". It doesn't mean you stop a fight every time somebody gets hurt.

'I don't have anything on the books right now for a cruiserweight fight, a heavyweight fight. In the second round Kovalev used an effective jab.

As the fight progressed, body shots (and a couple of low/borderline blows) from Ward started taking a toll on the Russian. Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) was badly hurt, and Ward went to him and began firing away. "I wasn't hurt and I could continue". The blow left Kovalev bent over in agony which resulted in Weeks calling a halt to the fight.

What Kovalev didn't address was his mounting fatigue and the punch that started it all-a clean, crisp shot to the jaw that put him in trouble in the first place.

According to CompuBox punch statistics, Ward landed only 80 of 238 punches (34 percent); Kovalev landed 95 of 407 (23 percent). "I thought I was doing very good".

"Is it possible for me to get on the Pound for Pound list now (at number one)?"

There were two questionable blows around the belt line that Kovalev felt were below the belt and he protested.

Ward, who won an Olympic gold in 2004 and hasn't lost a fight since he was 12, took a few rounds to find his mark but once he did the two engaged in close rounds that were hard to score. And now he's lost two fights consecutively, and has been stopped inside the distance for the first time in his career. Neither made any effort to touch gloves when given their final instructions, and once the bell rang, they both went after each other.

Even the one judge who had Kovalev ahead by three points entering Round 8 would have likely had Sergey ahead by a mere point heading into Round 9, assuming Ward would have been granted a 10-8 round.

Yet, while Kovalev added, "I want to get another fight", the rivalry seems to be over with no rematch clause in effect and Ward saying afterward he might want to move to cruiserweight.

And Ward emphasized that he was dealing with as much remorse as Kovalev was.

'I don't think Kovalev complained about it, he was in a submissive position.

In his post-fight interview, Kovalev questioned the intervention of Weeks and suggested that he had received an illegal punch.

On the undercard, two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux defeated Moises Flores with a controversial fight-ending punch at the close of the first round to retain his WBA junior featherweight title.

  • Julie Sanders