The rematch is as intriguing as the first fight, when the question was whether Kovalev's vaunted power would carry the day against a fighter who never really excites fans but always leaves the ring with his hand raised.
Andre Ward vowed he would leave no doubt this time around. That doesn't mean, however, that this victory was without controversy. Ward, on the other hand, was seen more as the tactician. He won two rounds against me as empty Kovalev, I remember I was like a heavy bag.
By granting Kovalev the immediate rematch, Ward exacted his revenge and left the rest of the light-heavyweight division wondering what it will take to stop his reign.
It was the first time Kovalev (30-2, 25 KOs) was finished in his career.
If Ward is a master of the American school, Kovalev is straight outta the Soviet system, an orthodox, come forward, relentless puncher. I make this a 50/50 fight, so wouldn't put anyone off Kovalev at the price.
"Can we talk about this fight", Duva hopelessly asked the assembled media. I feel like my legs are back. "I could have continued to fight". "I want to prove I belong here". "They want you in a certain place and if they can't have you there, then you see a totally different fighter".
"(Andre's) IQ speaks for itself", his longtime trainer, Virgil Hunter, said.
"I went over all my past mistakes and I'm very excited", Kovalev said. Referee Tony Weeks stopped it at 2:43.
Sergey Kovalev's projected purseNot unlike their first fight, Andre Ward's purse will be much larger than rival Kovalev's in tonight's rematch. Unfortunately for Duva and Yormark, the same can't be said about the lead-up to Ward-Kovalev II.
"Championship fights don't start until after the sixth round".
Ward, a 33-year-old native of Oakland California, began to wear Kovalev down in Round 5 with shots to the body.
"SOG" will also need to once again avoid the big shots of the "Krusher", while once again targeting the body.
That likely explains why Kovalev stormed off stage before the end of Thursday's final press conference, declining to participate in interviews and the traditional staredown photo shoot. The contested meme, which has since been deleted, shows Ward saying both the f- and n-word in a parodied, fake conversation between the two boxers.
Kathy Duva, Kovalev's promoter, said she would appeal the decision to the Nevada State Athletic Commission because of the low blows and the failure of Weeks to deduct points from Ward. They laughed at me, but I knew what would happen because Andre was healthy. 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. He also had a plea for his critics.
"What do you wanna hear from me?" I was better and he was better this fight. "I don't have a vote, I keep saying that". "But I'm not going to put my head out there on a platter".
In terms of his future, Ward teased about a possible move to cruiserweight or even heavyweight.