Two fights, and still, complete clarity doesn't exist in analyzing the Andre Ward v Sergey Kovalev rivalry.
But two Ws on the Ward ledger do…
The Oaklander and the Russia scrapped in thisclose rounds and then Ward sensed it was time to press hard. He won via stoppage, amid a controversial swirl, in round eight of their rematch bout, which unfolded at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, and on HBO PPV Saturday evening.
As after the first contest, debate will rage on long after the final bell. Kovalev fans will say Ward sapped the Krusher with repeated low blows, and doubled down on the nut shots in the final sequence. They will also say that referee Tony Weeks was too quick with the hook in this battle for light heavyweight supremacy.
Through seven, we saw Kovalev being the aggressor, coming forward, more often initiating. We saw Ward being a defensive savant, backing up, then throwing, blunting the Russian, constricting him, clinching and pinning his arms.
Then, fury in the finale.
Ward was Hagler on Hearns, perhaps channeling seething anger at Sergey for race based teasing. He ripped to the body and strayed low ish. But he also threw massive oomph into his launches, as he saw and felt Kovalev receding, shrinking. With Kovalev bent over on the ropes, signaling his diminishment, Weeks pulled the plug.
Definitive? There are grounds for debate, maybe. We'd like to see a deep dive look at all the supposed low blows. And we will wonder, why didn't Sergey go lower, if he was being fouled. It is a fight, after all.
No debate on whether Ward is a modern master. His style won't be universally appealing, as he is clinch heavy and not a volume fan. But his results are beyond debate. Though, you won't get agreement from Team Kovalev there. The Russian said after he was touched up by low blows.
This rivalry will live on, even if they don't fight a third time.
NOTE: Check out this Compubox report. It tells a tale. Tbe cagey Ward saved powder for later and then, bang, lit it up when it was to pay biggest dividends.