Ward celebrates big win while Kovalev plans protest

Ward out to make a statement in Kovalev rematch

Last November's title fight between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev was one of the most controversial in boxing previous year.

Andre Ward: "I'm ecstatic, I'm happy".

The close fight brought the unified WBA, WBO, IBF unified light heavyweight titles around the waist of Andre Ward, who welcomed the rematch with the bigger Kovalev amidst plenty of trash talk.

The momentum began to shift the American's way as the fight reached halfway, though, with both fighters landing some fierce shots in a more open and aggressive encounter than their first bout. This was a signature victory for a man whose aloof persona, long periods of inactivity and cerebral fighting style mean that he will never win any popularity contests. Close round but I give it to Ward.

"He got worn down by a lot of the holding and, of course, the low blows", said John David Jackson, Kovalev's trainer. Ward then connected with a sweet right in the chops, and Kovalev's legs were shaking.

When pressed about the low blows, Ward stated, "God bless you man..."

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Referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight with 31 seconds left in the round with Kovalev kneeling down from he said was a low blow by Ward.

Kovalev, 34, a native of Russian Federation, didn't immediately protest the stoppage but later voiced his anger during a post fight interview. I really don't have anything to say on what happened. I didn't feel that hurt. "I could have continued to fight". A low blow - and I felt this. It didn't hurt me. "I always do well against bigger fighters". Why stop the fight? "I want to continue and kick his ass". It was a crashing right hand to the head that badly hurt Kovalev and started the assault the that finished the fight.

"I was breathing, he was breathing, but I'm used to working exhausted".

Opinion was split over whether the final shots were in fact legal although Kovalev himself had no such uncertainty in his mind. "When I saw him react to shots that were borderline, I knew what I had".

Kovalev (30-2, 26 KOs), known for his formidable punching, came out charging in the opening rounds, but was left frustrated by the counter-punching of ward and frequent grabbing. But Ward began to adjust and slowly figure Kovalev out, making some key adjustments midfight. "I think that would be a very interesting fight", Hunter said. Camp was good and we implemented everything. "I hope the whole world sees what it's like to get in the ring with me". One more time as Kovalev jabbing, and pressing the action. He also had a plea for his critics. "I dream big. Anything is possible when you have God". I just needed to keep being smart. He suggested possibly fighting at cruiserweight or heavyweight if the right opportunity comes up. But it's incredible how people are always going to say something. "It would have to be against the right guy but I don't put a limit as to what I'm capable of".

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