Andre Ward finishes Sergey Kovalev in eighth round, retains titles

Las Vegas. Ward is scheduled to fight Sergey Kovalev in a light heavyweight championship boxing match Saturday in Las Vegas

Andre Ward Knocks Out Sergey Kovalev in Eighth to Retain Belts

Ward won the first fight in November, coming back from a second round knockdown to get a controversial decision.

It's this Saturday, June 17 (or the early hours of Sunday 18, depending where you're reading this from) at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Ward, sensing he had "The Krusher" in trouble, connected on another flush right hand and then landed a hard left to the body, which hurt Kovalev.

An impressive performance from Ward was marred by the ending to the fight, with a succession of borderline low blows securing the stoppage after he had initially rocked the Russian with a powerful straight right to the head.

"I could tell he was reacting to my body shots and I knew I had him then", Ward said. Should they fight again and he doesn't KO Ward in the first four rounds, Kovalev's chances of winning are seemingly slim.

"There's certain guys you don't mess with and those guys are too big", Ward said. Kovalev now picks up his second back-to-back loss, dropping to 30 wins, 2 defeats, 1 draw, 26 knockouts.

Kovalev said he wanted to continue to fight, but Weeks had already made up his mind.

When asked, in the aftermath of his victory over Kovalev, whether a bout with Joshua could be arranged, Ward replied: 'Anything is possible. I don't want to call him a frontrunner, but if he's not having his way, he's got to dig deep.

The final punch stats also show that this was a very close and competitive fight. I was better and he was better this fight.

Last night, I awarded Kovalev 3 of the first 4 rounds but, once again, Sergey started to fade in the middle stanzas while Ward got stronger and continually found ways to score. However, as he has done in the past, Ward added that he would only make the ambitious leap for the "right fight".

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Kovalev was the much busier of the two from the opening bell of the entertaining fight.

"I couldn't believe it, I could win", he said.

"Only a low blow [hurt me]". The difference this time around may have been Andre's ability to effectively counter the aggressive Kovalev as he pressed the action. They are among the best pound-for-pound fighters and have a lot in common.

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

"Can I get on the pound-for-pound list now at the top?" said Ward.

"I'm not going to be distracted by the talk".

On Saturday night he was on one knee as referee Tony Weeks waved his hands in adjournment, and Ward kept the three light-heavyweight championships he took from Kovalev last November. Kovalev gave him the edge he needed. "I knew he was hurt". But I knew what was going to happen because he (Ward) was healthy. "I always do well against bigger fighters".

Ward did mention after the fight that he would be open to one day attempting a fight at heavyweight - referencing Roy Jones Jr in the past completing such stellar accomplishments in terms of stepping up from lower weight categories to boxing's glamor division. He earned a fixed $6.5 million (Dh23.8m), while Kovalev had no guaranteed purse and was forced to settle for a minority share of the TV revenue and the gate. Who he fights next?

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