This is how it went in the light heavyweight match-up of arguably the two best men in the sport, who ascended to those spots by facing each other in a close fight a year ago that Ward won controversially: Kovalev started better.
Then, after punching through Kovalev complaints that he had been hit low in the round - and previously in the bout - Ward battered Kovalev in a corner with two devastating body blows on the belt that forced him to keel over and inspire referee Tony Weeks to stop the bout two minutes, 29 seconds into the round.
What started Kovalev's demise was a heavy, overhand right that nailed the Russian on the jaw, leaving him wobbly.
"Then I hurt him with a head shot and I just had to get the right shots in there to get it over with".
Ward now moves to 32-0 in his career while retaining his WBA, IBF, WBO light heavyweight titles while also picking up the vacant Ring light heavyweight title as well.
But no it was Ward who was the more aggressive and stronger fighter on this night and he began to go to work on Kovalev's body early in the fight and began to break him down.
Ward's win cements his place as the Pound for Pound best fighter on the planet and seemingly puts his feud with Kovalev behind him. Ward, was given the stoppage over Russian Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev, 30-2-1 (16), of Ft. "Facing a great fighter, you've got to raise your game to the next level". As a result, if I'm Sergey's manager, I'd be very concerned about putting my guy in the ring with Ward again at this moment.
Kovalev said he hoped to have a third fight, but that is quite improbable, given the bad rancor between Roc Nation Sports and Kovalev promoter Main Events, not to mention that the first fight was not a commercial success and the rematch was not likely to be one either. "I am exhausted of the press and everyone saying I am boring". Now he's a good kid, I do him and he's swell but I'm telling you, I see things with him in particular and he's the best. [Kovalev] got hit with three low blows, four actually, in the last round.
"I'm still having a hard time processing what I just witnessed", Main Events CEO Kathy Duva said (via ESPN) in a raucous postfight news conference in which she was shouted down by Ward's supporters. "I've never seen somebody knocked out on a low blow until tonight, and I hope I never have to see it again". Joe Smith Jr. and Sullivan Barrera fight in The Forum next month and the victor will be an attractive match for someone.
"We are boxers. I could still continue". I didn't feel it. The Kovalev throws a low blow. It was a controversial decision after Ward come back from a second-round knockdown to get the decision. It happened. That's always been a dream of mine and that's something me and Virgil [Hunter, his trainer] talk about.
"I dream big and anything is possible when you got God in your life". "Right now, I should've continued".
Kovalev seemed in shock after the fight. In the second round Kovalev used an effective jab. Tony Bellew-a fighter whom Ward is objectively better than in every way, was able to make the leap from failed 175 pounder to victor over top heavyweight David Haye.