Ward celebrates big win while Kovalev plans protest

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It turned out, that's exactly what Andre Ward had in mind, too. In that fight Ward came back from a second round knockdown to win a decision by one point on all three ringside scorecards. That doesn't mean, however, that this victory was without controversy.

'How much more hurt was he than Ward in round two last fight. But Ward, 33, of Oakland, California, made the cards irrelevant with his surprising TKO in the eighth round, after which Hunter and Kovalev trainer John David Jackson got into a heated discussion in the ring.

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.

Only Kovalev had fought at Mandalay Bay before during his career.

'I thought the stoppage was awful, ' said Malignaggi. "It's insane. I want to get again a fight with him". "I said Andre was in the best shape of his life and that he was as motivated as he has ever been for a fight in his life". "I didn't feel he could throw the punch that would end the fight". This is fight. We are boxers. There were low blows. Yes, he did punch me, but he didn't hurt me.

"This is fighting. We are boxers".

"Why stop the fight?" he said. "I want to continue and kick his ass". Ward avoiding the big punch.

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What started Kovalev's demise was a heavy, overhand right that nailed the Russian on the jaw, leaving him wobbly. "Then the referee stopped the fight". In the sixth round Ward landed a good left hook to the chin of Kovalev.

Kovalev outlanded Ward, 95 to 80, overall (according to CompuBox) but expended a great deal of energy in boxing with Ward on even terms.

In a boxing world where we're willing to suspend our disbelief and allow for the possibility that an MMA fighter could knock out the best fighter of his generation, can we not consider the idea that the best pound for pound fighter in the world could become heavyweight champion? But there were a couple of times when I was crying, because I thought we'd have to postpone the fight. "I didn't predict a knockout, but I said it could happen", Ward said. "I knew I had about 30 seconds to go in the round and I just had to finish it".

The rematch is as intriguing as the first fight, when the question was whether Kovalevs vaunted power would carry the day against a fighter who never really excites fans but always leaves the ring with his hand raised. But Ward began to adjust and slowly figure Kovalev out, making some key adjustments midfight. "I know you've got a lot of people who say 'oh, that's suicide.' But there are some things about Anthony Joshua that I see, that makes me think he can outbox Anthony Joshua".

"I don't know. I can't explain it", Kovalev said about the end of the fight.

Rigondeaux improved to 18-0 with 12 knockouts, while Flores, of Mexico, dropped to 25-1, with 17 KOs. He also had a plea for his critics. You don't have to respect me and I don't demand anything, but at a certain point and time, you got to give a person their just do. "I just have one goal - to beat all (expletive) from him because he doesn't deserve the belts and status of a champion. Heavyweight? Hey, you have to be able to dream".