Ward vs Kovalev: Attendance, post-fight quotes
It was Teddy Atlas who said, "Kovalev will win the early rounds with his ability to control distance [and then] Ward will then do what he's done since he was 12... Adjust and find a way to win."
Last night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) kept his prefect record intact by defeating Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) via a razor thin verdict.
All three judges scored it 114-113 in waht turned out to be a fine fight.
With the win, Ward captures the WBA, WBO, and IBF light heavyweight belts. Moreover, he may be recognized by many as boxing's top fighter, pound for pound.
Things certainly didn't start smoothly for Ward who was wobbled by a hard Kovalev jab in round one and floored by a quick right hook in round two. After three rounds, Kovalev looked dominant.
The tide shifted in Round 4 as Ward, looking more relaxed and confident, started to make the proper adjustments. However, after four, one could have conceivably had the Russian up 40-35.
Ward shook the champion with a straight left hand in round seven and used speed and ring savvy to land eye-catching shots in the back half of the fight.
It was a close fight that could have easily been scored for Kovalev, narrowly.
ANDRE WARD (31-0, 15 KOs)
“What a beautiful thing! We did it baby! It's a lot of hardware. Surreal! This is what I set out to do. Now I'm a 5X World Champion in 2 weight classes. Man, it's amazing!
“I thought I won and it sounded like fair scoring.
“Your last fight is always the most important. But I needed this.
“It was about those in the trenches moments. Sergey has no inside game. So my mid-range and inside game is what I focused on.
“After that second round knockdown, I think he (Kovalev) realized I wasn't going anywhere and I was stepping on the gas.
“The new light heavyweight champion. That sounds good! This was my most important and satisfying win.
“Technically, there is always stuff I can pick apart. I'm not happy about that second round knockdown but I didn't panic. I was at peace. Now, it was time to fight. It was a flash knockdown. I wasn't hurt by it. As a matter of fact, I wasn't hurt by anything he threw.”
VIRGIL HUNTER, Trainer of Andre Ward:
“This is a good feeling. We were careless with that knockdown but we landed the cleaner punches."
"Kovalev was aggressive but not effective and that's why we got this win. I'm happy for Andre.”
JAMES PRINCE, Manager of Andre Ward
“It went just like I said. We crowned David at the end of the night. And Andre would hold those belts up just like Goliath's head.”
MICHAEL YORMARK, Roc Nation President & Chief of Branding and Strategy:
“Great night! Great performance by Andre! Terrific fight by two great champions. It's a great moment for Andre and his entire family. Roc Nation is very proud of what he accomplished tonight. On to the next one...”
SERGEY KOVALEV (30-1-1, 26 KOs)
"It's the wrong decision. I don't want to say my opinion," he said. "The witnesses are here. They saw it. It's my job. It was a fight of my life. I am disappointed in the judges' decision."
"[Ward] got maybe a few rounds. I agree with that. I kept control. I lost maybe three rounds the whole fight. It is the USA and all the judges were from the USA. It's a sport. Don't make it politics. It's a sport, and I won the fight."
KATHY DUVA, Promoter of Sergey Kovalev
"My impression was that was the wrong decision."
"We thought he [Kovalev] was clearly ahead on points. I think Ward could have a great career in the UFC. I haven't seen so much wrestling since Conor McGregor in the UFC card last week."