Referee Tony Weeks seemed to allow several low blows go before eventually stepping in and stopping the contest in the eighth round with Kovalev buckled over. Still, Kovalev was clearly rattled and hurt during that final sequence of punches that stopped the fight, which gave Ward the victory.
The 33-year-old Ward extended his flawless record to 32 wins in an impressive performance, albeit with a controversial ending, at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
"He was reacting to my body shots, and I knew I had him and I knew he was hurt", Ward said.
Referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight with 31 seconds left in the eighth with Kovalev kneeling down from what he said was a low blow.More news: Inspired Pakistan crush India in Champions Trophy final at London
At the moment when the fight ended, two of the judges were giving the point advantage to Ward 67-66, while the third one said that Kovalev had more landed punches, 68-65. But there were a couple of times when I was crying, because I thought we'd have to postpone the fight.
Fans on social media called the stoppage premature, Kovalev echoed that sentiment in his post-fight comments, but with little energy left Ward would've found a way to stop him in the remaining rounds. I could [still] win. While that is up for debate, the current reality is that Andre Ward finished off a fighter who had been feared by much of the boxing world. Truly, it was a stunning and brutal end for the light heavyweight title fight.
Kovalev's manager Egis Klimas stated, "Basically what happened today, Ward got away with fighting dirty". From the promoters, through the trainers and all the way down to the boxers, the enmity was both authentic and palpable leading up to fight night at the Mandalay Bay.
"Championship fights don't start until l the sixth round", Ward said.
"The timing of it, we're in the middle of a fight week, it is what it is", Ward said.More news: Grief turns to anger in neighbourhood near tower fire
Many had Kovalev up by 2 or 3 points. "[Kovalev's] a great fighter".
"The right hand started it all", Ward said. I didn't feel that hurt.
What did you think of the stoppage?
Those who watch the Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev boxing match live online could see a more definitive conclusion to the saga. A low blow - and I felt this. Kovalev doubled over in an effort to sway Weeks into calling a halt for illegal punches, but the veteran third man deemed them legal and chose to waive off the fight, much to Kovalev's dismay. "I've never seen somebody knocked out on a low blow until tonight, and I hope I never have to see it again".More news: Murray wins Olympic final repeat in third round of French Open
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