Andre Ward becomes pound-for-pound king, stops Sergey Kovalev

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. "Facing a great fighter, you've got to raise your game to the next level".

"Ward won't be the bigger fighter against Kovalev, but he's both strong enough and intelligent enough to know that slowing down the pace of the fight - especially if things get hairy - and tying Kovalev up after landing a single punch is a default option he can lean on". Referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight then and there, and Ward retained his title.

Ward won the first fight between the two by a 114-113 margin on all three judges' scorecards, earning the US boxer the IBF, WBA, and WBO championships.

And Hunter is confident Ward's ability could negate the size advantage of Joshua, who remains undefeated after beating Wladmir Klitschko and holds the WBA, IBF and IBO heavyweight belts, in a potential bout between the two.

The fight had been close, with Kovalev (30-2-1) winning the early rounds before Ward (32-0) began making adjustments and Kovalev began tiring.

"It was a low blow, again another one", said Kovalev. "Kovalev fought a good fight but once I compute a fighter in my brain and have him in there, I know what I need to do the next time around".

But the Russian said: "It didn't hurt like I could go down on the floor, but it was a low blow". The Kovalev throws a low blow. It's boxing. I could have continued fighting, but I don't understand what happened. Still, Kovalev was clearly rattled and hurt during that final sequence of punches that stopped the fight, which gave Ward the victory.

The first fight was very close and those who believed Sergey deserved the nod present a clear case. Ward and Kovalev (at least until recently on the latter) probably deserve to be ranked ahead of Stevenson based on their competition of late, but the champ is the champ until someone beats him.

"He's a great fighter", Ward said.

'How much more hurt was he than Ward in round two last fight.

After the controversy on the scorecards from their first fight, Sergey Kovalev vowed to keep his fortunes out of the three judges seated at ringside on Saturday. He suggested possibly fighting at cruiserweight or heavyweight if the right opportunity comes up. In the second round Kovalev used an effective jab.

He lost two of 33 rounds while plowing through second-class citizenry at 175 but provided as many questions as answers following a reed-thin defeat of Kovalev last November in which he was dropped in the second, rattled several more times and greeted by calls of "bulls--" from the beaten man's camp.

Andre Ward landed a clean counter right hand to the chin of Kovalev which had the boxer nicknamed "Krusher" visibly shaken. "When I saw him react to shots that were borderline, I knew what I had". "Heavyweight? I dream big, and everything is possible when you have God". I was better and he was better this fight.

  • Julie Sanders