The 32 year-old American won a tight decision at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to cement his place at the summit of the sport, which he believes was fully justified given his performance.
“I knew it was a close fight and you never know how a judge is going to sway it,” Ward told HBO’s Max Kellerman in the ring.
“I think the crowd are saying the real winner won. But taking nothing from Kovalev, in a tight fight he’s going to think he got robbed and I’d be disappointed. Take nothing away from him but we got the belts tonight.
“I’ve been a champion before I came in here and I knew it was going to be a tough fight. I didn’t anticipate getting dropped. That was the first time in my career getting dropped but I’m pleased with myself the way I responded.
“He did everything I expected him to do, including fade a little bit. He started to slow up but he never quit, obviously. Virgil (Hunter) did a phenomenal job of just keeping me in the fight by saying, ‘you need every round – don’t leave anything to chance’.
“And listen, sometimes you don’t win close fights and that’s the way it is.”
On being recognized above all others, Ward remained humble with his response to Kellerman’s question by saying: “I’ve been two division, five-time world champion. I’ve been a champion all my life but I’ll leave that to the people to say.”
And on the possibility of a return with Kovalev next year, Ward added: “Of course, but I’m not going to negotiate a fight right now. I’ll go home, enjoy this victory and see what’s next.”