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More Controversy in Ward TKO of Kovalev/Rigondeaux Ko's Flores

pics David Spagnolo/Main Events
pics David Spagnolo/Main Events

By Derek Bonnett

The world’s top two light heavyweights Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev clashed at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino and Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada for a genuine super fight rematch scheduled for twelve rounds. The first bout produced an excellent twelve round display of boxing ability from both men and sparked great controversy following Ward receiving a unanimous decision by a single point. The rematch produced even more, but, instead of poor judging, referee Tony Weeks made a questionable call in stopping Kovalev along the ropes after Ward clearly landed low.


Kovalev got off to a strong start again after a relatively neutral first round. The Kovalev jab was consistent while Ward remained patient, fighting off the back foot. Ward began going low in round two without any acknowledgment from Tony Weeks. Ward back pedaled while Kovalev landed his right hand off the jab. Ward started his body attack in round three, but Kovalev kept landing with the jab and right hand. The was perhaps even more of weapon this second time around than in the first contest. Ward came out strong for round four, landing a lead hook. Shockingly, it was Ward landing the harder shots. After four rounds, Kovalev led unofficially on the SecondsOut card 39-37.



Ward continued his good work through round five. A left hook connected well on Kovalev’s cheek. The champions body attack picked up as well, but Kovalev was doing more to hold his ground in the inside. While Ward still took the fifth, it was a different, more engaging fight than last time. Kovalev got back to his effective pressure and working behind the jab in the sixth. Ward missed with a jab and Kovalev slammed a right hand into his face. Ward’s tactical holding and firing low continued, but Weeks failed to recognize the fouls and urged Kovalev to continue fighting. Both light heavyweights traded body blows in the seventh. The Russian got the better of the exchanges and fired the right hand with precision. Then things got weird. Ward clearly landed two of the best punches of the bout in round eight and hurt Kovalev to the chin. However, Ward again fired low and while backed up to the ropes Kovalev received another shot south of the border. Bending over along the ropes following the low blows, Kovalev was not allowed to continue as Weeks waived the contest off at the 2:29 mark.

Ward remained unbeaten 32-0-0 (16) and was unofficially anointed Pound for Pound King by Max Kellerman during the post-fight interview. A sullen Kovalev fell to 30-2-1 (26) and asked for a third fight. Ward claimed his attention was more on cruiserweight or heavyweight.


In the chief supporting bout, Guillermo Rigondeaux, 36, defended his super bantamweight title under unusual circumstances as challenger Moises Flores was KO’d by a blow that seemingly came after the belt. Rigondeaux was holding and hitting Flores in the final seconds of the first. Referee Vic Drakulich stepped in to address the foul, but a blow after the bell finished Flores off. The controversy was divided between Flores "flopping" and the champion landing after the bell. After a lengthy deliberation from ringside, it was determined that Rigondeaux would be granted the victory by first round KO.


Rigondeaux lifted his ledger to 18-0-0 (12). The win was the Cubans eleventh in world championship bouts. Flores, 30, fell to 25-1-0 (17).


On the undercard, Dmitry Bivol, 26, maintained his trend of fourth round stoppages in step-up fights by dominating former world title challenger Cedric Agnew. Bivol hurt Agnew in the first with left hook and forced Agnew down after a follow up barrage. Bivol kept Agnew on the ropes and quite bashful with his punches by using straight punches in a one-two fashion. Agnew,30,  looked to be in sheer survival mode by the third. Bivol upped his attack in the fourth and produced a stoppage with his opponent still standing along the ropes.


Bivol upped his dossier to 11-0-0 (9). Agnew fell to 29-3-0 (15).


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