By Radio Rahim
This past Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) stopped Sergey Kovalev (30-2, 26 KOs) in the eight round of their rematch to retain the IBF, WBC, WBA light heavyweight titles.
In the first meeting last November at T-Mobile Arena, Ward got off the floor in the second round to win a very close twelve round decision with all three judges scoring the bout 114-113 in his favor.
During the eight round of the rematch, Ward badly hurt Kovalev with a right hand and then started punishing his body on the inside. When he pressed Kovalev against the ropes, Ward threw several body shots that caused Kovalev to sit on the ropes and referee Tony Weeks jumped in to wave of the fight.
There has been some controversy over the stoppage, with several observers (including Kovalev himself), claiming that some of the body shots that were landed by Ward were illegal, because they strayed way below the belt-line.
Back in 2014, Kovalev dropped and decisioned Bernard Hopkins to unify the IBF/WBA/WBO titles.
Hopkins believes last week's stoppage was justified. He disagrees with the critics who felt Ward landed several low blows and he also felt Weeks made the right decision to stop the fight because Kovalev was already a completely spent fighter.
"I think it was legit. I think one [punch] was borderline on the belt. But I think leading up to that [stoppage], with the right hand and also with the pressure, and the roughness inside [is what won it]," Hopkins explained to BoxingScene.com.
"Listen, I respect Sergey and we text each other back and forth sometimes... Andre Ward figured him out in the first fight, and knew that he was stronger and had more endurance when it got late in the fight - which is the mid-rounds where you seen Sergey breathing and holding more than he's done in any other fight.
"Andre Ward used an inside game, and muscle, and body attack to get Sergey tired early, to get the payout in the mid-rounds and not even later. It didn't get to later."