By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Adrien Broner saw quit in Sergey Kovalev on Saturday night.
As the former four-division champion watched his friend, Andre Ward, and Kovalev go at it in their light heavyweight championship rematch, Broner noticed a fast-tiring Kovalev looking for a way out of a tough fight. That was especially true, according to Broner, once Ward drilled Kovalev with a flush right hand to his jaw that hurt the former champion badly with 1:14 to go in the eighth round.
Broner was asked about the controversial conclusion to the Ward-Kovalev rematch Monday in Manhattan after a press conference to promote his fight against Mikey Garcia.
“See, listen, Kovalev was ready to quit,” Broner said. “He was ready to quit. Point blank, period. I don’t care what nobody say. I’ve been hit low before. And I’m not saying he got hit low. But even if he did, it didn’t make him quit.”
Broner believes the right hand that Ward landed, combined with Kovalev’s fatigue and Ward’s work to his body, made Kovalev think twice about continuing in their scheduled 12-round fight for Ward’s IBF, WBA and WBO light heavyweight titles.
“He was ready to quit,” Broner said. “He was tired. He had just got hurt by a big right hand and I think ‘Dre was gonna stop him anyway in a couple more rounds.”
Ward was declared the winner at 2:29 of the eighth round, after landing three consecutive blows below Kovalev’s belt line.
Ward was ahead by the same score, 67-66, on the scorecards of judges Glenn Feldman and Dave Moretti when the fight was stopped at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Kovalev was ahead, 68-65, on judge Steve Weisfeld’s scorecard after seven rounds.
Broner, meanwhile, will participate in another press conference Tuesday in Los Angeles before returning to training camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Cincinnati’s Broner (33-2, 24 KOs) and Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs), of Oxnard, California, are scheduled to square off in a 12-round, 140-pound fight July 29 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (Showtime).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.