IBF, WBA, WBO light heavyweight champion Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) says he is not going to allow the critics to take away his recent rematch win over Sergey Kovalev (30-2, 26 KOs).
In their first fight last November at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Ward got off the floor in the second round to win a close twelve round decision over Kovalev to capture the three titles. All three judges had it scored 114-113 for Ward, but many observers felt the decision was controversial with Kovalev doing enough to win.
The rematch, which took place two weeks ago at the Mandalay Bay, saw Ward win once again with an eight round TKO. He hurt Kovalev with a big right hand and then attacked his body while Kovalev was pressed against the ropes, and then referee Tony Weeks jumped in to wave off the contest.
After the rematch, some critics felt the final few body shots had strayed low - and Weeks should have either given Kovalev time to recover or issued an eight count when Kovalev sat on the ropes.
This time around, Ward is not going to sit back and take any heat from the critics. He reviewed the video and felt Kovalev was a beaten man, who also committed many fouls during the contest - and was looking for a way out.
"I'm not having it this time," says Ward to Daily Mail. "I'm not going to just sit back and let anyone take away from my victory this time. Kovalev was beaten and he knew it. The punches he complained about were borderline at worst. The referee had noted that both he and I were wearing our trunks and our protective cups a little high. He told us that punches to the belt line would be legal."
"Kovalev again started the fight well. But when I landed a solid left to his body in the third I knew I hurt him badly, I heard him gasp and wince. From that point on he was not as strong as he had been in the first couple of rounds. Every body shot after that weakened him and he started complaining to the referee. He was rabbit-punching me throughout and I looked at the referee a couple of times. But unlike Kovalev I didn't stop. I kept on fighting."
"He sat down and wasn't looking to fight back. He was looking for a way out. He was looking to the referee. And there were no protests from him in the moments after it was stopped. Only later. Kovalev is a great fighter. A great champion who I respect. He was unbeaten before he met me. I think I deserve credit for my achievement."