Andre Ward breaks Sergey Kovalev’s will, uses body attacks to score TKO
Andre Ward produced a magnificent stoppage at the Mandalay Bay to put an exclamation point on his saga with arch-rival Sergey Kovalev.
Using a strategy of aiming for the solar plexus, Ward made Kovalev uncomfortable enough to complain about low blows on three occasions before a final assault saw Tony Weeks step in.
Prior to the eighth round ending, Kovalev was never out of the contest on the scorecards, although Ward was clearly hurting the Russian – who looked jaded at times.
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.
A unification with Adonis Stevenson would be the prefered next move for Ward, although the TV situation could prove to be the fight’s downfall.
In the co-feature, Guillermo Rigondeaux was handed a first round knockout victory on Saturday night, the twelfth of his career, in farcical fashion at the Mandalay Bay.
A first round in which the Cuban looked comfortable ended with punches being thrown whilst Rigondeaux was holding behind the head, before referee Vic Drakulich attempted to step in to call break at the end of the round.
As the official did so, Rigondeaux threw what was judged a legal blow on the bell, which Flores proceeded to make the most of and stay down for the full count and more.
After some debate, and viewing several replays, Drakulich ruled the final blow was on the bell and called the fight a KO for the WBA super-bantamweight champion.
Upon a WBA review, an immediate rematch could be ordered due to the way the fight was handled at the end, although Flores may not deserve it due to his dramatic behaviour after the punch.
Earlier, Russian up and comer Dmitry Bivol announced himself on the PPV stage with a crushing four round punishment handed to Cedric Agnew.
The undefeated interim WBA light-heavyweight champion showed speed and power in abundance until referee Russell Mora had seen enough.
Bivol, who is just 26 years old, pushes to 11-0 and looks for all the world to be a future star at 175 pounds.
Luis Arias looked impressive on his way to a fifth round stoppage win over Arif Magodedov in the HBO Pay-Per-View opener.
Magomedov hit the canvas following some pressure and referee Robert Byrd called the fight off.