The unbeaten Ward hurt Kovalev with a right hand that buckled the Russian's knees and finished him off on the ropes 30 seconds later with a series of body shots around the mid-section at the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino in Las Vegas.
Billed as Ward vs. Kovalev 2: No Excuses! this second fight will be every bit as historic as the heavyweight division's Joe Louis vs Max Schmelling 2 rematch of June 22, 1938! . I'd like to see him fight Anthony Joshua. Their first fight was the biggest of Ward's career - his first on pay-per-view and first in Las Vegas - and he feels he has a lot more to show boxing fans.
Ward defeated Kovalev by unanimous decision (114-113 on all three scorecards) to win his IBF, WBO and WBA light heavyweight titles. Ward then connected with a sweet right in the chops, and Kovalev's legs were shaking. In round 7 Kovalev was showing small tell tale signs of fatigue by fighting with an open mouth.
"Hopefully, against a great fighter like Sergey Kovalev, we'll get our credit tonight and get atop that pound-for-pound list".
"Why stop the fight?" he said. It's an interesting development with the two power punching terrors of the sport in their last couple bouts: Opponents have proven that if you take the fight to Kovalev and Gennady Golovkin at tactical intervals, they suddenly aren't quite so fearsome. "But we landed the cleaner punches", said Ward's trainer Virgil Hunter.
Just seven months after receiving a gift-wrapped decision in their first fight, Ward shocked everybody by knocking out the knockout artist as he staggered the Russian with a ideal right cross before finishing him to the body. Ward and Kovalev (at least until recently on the latter) probably deserve to be ranked ahead of Stevenson based on their competition of late, but the champ is the champ until someone beats him.
Kovalev claimed he overtrained for the first bout and had nothing when he went into the ring.
Playing the pound for pound game is one thing-simply imagining a fighter, if all things were equal, and matching him up against men in larger weight classes.
"I was breathing, he was breathing, but I'm used to working exhausted", Ward said.
Two of the top five pound for pound boxers in the world met again after a controversial decision in their first meeting. Neither made any effort to touch gloves when given their final instructions, and once the bell rang, they both went after each other. He earned a fixed $6.5 million (Dh23.8m), while Kovalev had no guaranteed purse and was forced to settle for a minority share of the TV revenue and the gate.
'Only a low blow (hurt me),' he added, before watching video of the end of the fight and observing: 'Low blow - and I felt this. Regardless, he said, he plans to not only win the fight but take out his frustrations on Ward.
"I could have continued", Kovalev said. Chief among the cleaning agents are Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev, whose rematch in the early hours tomorrow reminds us what boxing is really all about.