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Ward Stops Kovalev to Retain Light Heavyweight Crown



All Photos by Mulholland HBO Boxing

On Saturday, June 17, 2017, Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) scored an eighth-round TKO victory against Sergey Kovalev (31-2-1, 26 KOs) in a rematch for the Light Heavyweight championship at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The fight, a scheduled 12-rounder that headlined an HBO pay-per-view telecast in the U.S., was a rematch of their November 2016 fight, which Ward won by a controversial decision.

This time, however, Ward sought to erase doubts regarding the legitimacy of his first win by intelligently boxing Kovalev before wearing him down with shots to the body. Ward started his game plan earlier than he did in the first fight, but as we will see, the way the rematch ended may leave doubt in the minds of some.

In the first round, Kovalev, a 34-year-old native of Russia, aggressively took the center of the ring while Ward alternated between traveling to his left or traveling to his right. Between exchanges, Ward used his lead hand to control distance, while on the inside he smothered much of Kovalev’s offense.

By Rounds 2 and 3, Ward began landing short, hard shots on the inside, while Kovalev landed right hands from a distance. Ward continued to use his lateral movement before smothering Kovalev on the inside to look for more shots to the body and head.

Ward, a 33-year-old native of Oakland California, began to wear Kovalev down by Round 5 with a sustained attack to the body. Indeed, Kovalev was visibly tired and breathing from his mouth due to the body attack.

Kovalev maintained his aggression for the next few rounds but appeared frustrated with Ward’s movement, smothering and clinching. While Ward was successful with the cleaner and harder shots, Kovalev was more active, though mostly he punched at air or grazed by Ward’s defense.

Then, in Round 8, after a hard shot to the body that might have been low, Ward landed a hard right hand that wobbled Kovalev. Ward, smelling blood, began to punish Kovalev’s body and eventually earned the stoppage at 2:29 of Round 8.

At the time of the stoppage, two judges had Ward winning the fight with 2 scores of 66-67, while a third judge had the fight
68-65 for Kovalev.

What did you think of the stoppage? Let us know in the comments section below.


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