Watch highlights of the rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev.
Andre Ward retained his world light-heavyweight titles after a controversial stoppage victory over Sergey Kovalev in their rematch in Las Vegas.
The American hurt Kovalev with a big right hand in the eighth round, but the Russian complained that a few of the final blows were below the belt line after referee Tony Weeks hastily waved off the fight.
Ward had received a hotly disputed points victory in their first fight and there will be fresh debate after he retained his WBA ‘super’, IBF and WBO belts.
The bitter rivals had produced another evenly contested fight, with Ward sending out an early warning to Kovalev by landing his crisp right hand in the closing seconds of the opening round.
Sergey Kovalev worked well behind his jab in the early rounds
But Kovalev enjoyed success with his own clubbing right fist in the second round, despite receiving a low blow, and a string of stinging jabs seemed to be troubling Ward in the third.
Neither fighter was allowing their opponent to gain a foothold as Ward landed a lightning left hand in the fourth round, while Kovalev was caught with a crisp left hook in the fifth.
Both fighters traded body shots at close quarters
‘Krusher’ tried to drain Ward’s desire for battle with body shots in the sixth, but the American displayed his reflexes with clever counter punches in the seventh and would deliver a stunning punch in the next round.
Complaints by Kovalev about another low blow were ignored by referee Weeks and Ward seized upon his shaken opponent, uncorking a huge right that left him on unsteady legs.
Ward piles on more punches in the eighth round
As Kovalev lurched around the ring, Ward trapped him in the corner and rammed in a succession of shots around the belt line and the pained fighter was sagging on the ropes as Weeks swiftly signalled the finish.
In his post-fight interview, Kovalev questioned the intervention of Weeks and suggested that he had received an illegal punch.
“It didn’t hurt like I could go down on the floor, but it was a low blow,” said Kovalev.
“Right now, I could have continued. I didn’t feel that hurt.
“Why stop the fight? It’s crazy. I want to get again a fight with him.”
The American climbed onto the ropes after the fight was waved off
But Ward would only offer respectful words to Kovalev, despite their heated exchanges beforehand, and extended his unbeaten record to 32 victories.
“Kovalev fought a good fight, but once I compute a fighter in my brain, I know what I had to do the next time around,” said Ward.
Andre Ward admitted his second victory over Sergey Kovalev was the best of his career and believes he is now number one on the pound for pound list.
“Facing great fighters, you’ve got to raise your game to the next level and I’m thankful we did that tonight.”