Bob Bennett, the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, saw no issue with Saturday's ruling by referee Tony Weeks, who stopped the Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev rematch in the eight round at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Kovalev was hurt bad by a right hand, and then Ward swarmed on him with shots to the body. Kovalev claims that several of the shots were very low and forced him to sit on the ropes.
Weeks felt Kovalev was not punching back or defending himself, so he stepped in to wave off the fight. Ward retained his IBF, WBA, WBO light heavyweight world titles.
Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, who promotes Kovalev, plans to submit a protest to the NSAC.
Bennett spoke with Weeks, and the veteran referee saw no issue with the punches that were landed by Ward. Bennett, who also felt the punches looked good, completely backs the referee in this situation and said the stoppage was well done.
“In all fairness to Kathy, she’s upset. It’s her fighter,” Bennett said to USA Today. “I felt we had it right the first time. And I thought Tony did a great job this time. I’ve reviewed the fight this morning. I looked at those punches that were allegedly low, and even spoke to (HBO’s) Tom Hauser, who sent me a video, saying one of those punches was low but it was very hard to determine because Kovalev’s arm was by his waist, and the punch looks like it comes up underneath and hits on the belt line.
“Kathy said, ‘Bob, can’t you take a look at the instant replay?’ But the only way we can look at an instant replay is under one condition: when a punch or kick below the belt terminates the bout and the referee isn’t sure whether it’s a legal or illegal blow. I asked [Weeks], ‘Do you want to look at the instant replay, and he said no. He said I’m satisfied they were on the beltline.’ And it was clear from my viewpoint that the punches were on the beltline."
“It’s rather interesting at the end that when Ward hits him in the stomach at the end, he sat on the ropes. And the punch looked good. Weeks was in good position to see where those blows landed and they’re right on the belt line. Are they close? Sure. But do they look good? Yeah. Did he have one or two low blows where Tony told him to keep them up? You could argue that he did. But at the same time you could argue that Kovalev put Ward in numerous headlocks and Tony had to reprimand both of them. I think the stoppage was good."