The rematch didn't make it to the judges' scorecards, but there was still a hint of controversy after Andre Ward stopped Sergey Kovalev in the 8th round of their light heavyweight title fight at the Mandalay Bay in front of an announced attendance of 10,592.
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. Ward throws a big right hand, and looks to fight on the inside.
Kovalev, who had started well and was up on one of the three cards at the time of the finish, complained that referee Tony Weeks had jumped in prematurely and that the decisive assault was riddled with low blows. "Great fighters have to raise their game to the next level, and that's what I had to do tonight".
"Then I hurt him with a head shot and I just had to get the right shots in there to get him all the way and we did that".
Sergey Kovalev has called for a third fight with Andre Ward after suffering a second controversial defeat to his American rival in Las Vegas on Saturday. Referee Tony Weeks stopped it at 2:43.
Promoter Kathy Duva, angrily facing a "press conference" that was populated with Ward fans, said it was "inconceivable" that Kovalev could lose on "all those low blows in a row", and promised to appeal the decision to the Nevada state athletic commission.
"I'd like to see him fight Anthony Joshua".
"Why stop the fight?" he said.More news: Wonder Woman becomes biggest opening by a female director
Kovalev said he wanted to continue to fight, but Weeks had already made up his mind.
The AP had Kovalev ahead by a point going into the final round. And STOP with this low blow BS.
Kovalev's manager Egis Klimas stated, "Basically what happened today, Ward got away with fighting dirty. This is incredible", Kovalev said. "I don't feel like it affects me". Kovalev was accurate, landing with thudding jabs and enough right hands to mark up his man, but Ward, who had Kovalev dabbing at his right eye, began edging the action at BB from the 4th round onwards, leading at 68-65 going into the 8th. "I thought I was doing very good". Some debate may follow, however, surrounding the premature time of the stoppage, and even the placement of Ward's body shots that set up the bout's conclusion.
'It's more like it's a dream, ' Ward said.
Intelligencer Post isn't one of those media, and we are not interested in the nationality of the fighters or the political factors surrounding them, we are just into sports. Whether the punches that came right before the end of the fight were low or not can be discussed.
The victory was disputed as television replays showed Rigondeaux landed a left hand after the round-ending bell had rang.
Rigondeaux improved to 18-0 with 12 knockouts, while Flores, of Mexico, dropped to 25-1, with 17 KOs.