Another Controversial ending courtesy of a succession of low blows gave WBA, WBO and IBF Light Heavyweight champion Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) an eighth round stoppage over the division’s former ruler Sergey Kovalev (30-2, 25 KOs) at the Mandalay Bay Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday Night.
In another closely fought contest, Kovalev was leading on one scorecard 68-65 whilst Ward edged ahead on the other two by 66-67 prior to the premature end.
Ward up until that point had employed a game plan to blunt the attacks of Kovalev, combinations mixed with the tying up of Kovalev were working well to frustrate the Russian.
The fight never swung in either man’s direction until Ward landed a hard straight right hand in the eighth causing Kovalev to stagger back before landing with three low blows which brought the stoppage from referee Tony Weeks, another chorus of controversy ensued.
In reflection, Ward should have been handed a point deduction for the low blow after already hearing a warning for a similar shot, also Weeks should have given Kovalev enough time to recover from the illegal shot.
Kovalev’s promoter Kathy Duva complained bitterly afterwards about an unsatisfactory finish and insisted that there would be an appeal to the Nevada Commission on Monday for the fight to be overturned and declared a no-contest.
“It’s a disgrace, The only fair verdict is for this to be overturned and declared a ‘no contest’. – Kathy Duva
Speaking to HBO after the fight, Ward went on to say “Let me ask you the question: Can I get on the pound-for-pound list now? At the top?
“Hopefully, against a great fighter like Sergey Kovalev, we’ll get our credit tonight and get atop that pound-for-pound list.”
He said of his future plans: “Maybe cruiserweight, I don’t know. Cruiserweight, heavyweight, that’s always been a dream of mine. I dream big and anything is possible.”