HBO PPV results: Andre Ward stops Sergey Kovalev in eight
Andre “S.O.G.” Ward put an end to any scoring debate in his rematch with Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev Saturday night by forcing a referee’s stoppage in the eighth round to retain the IBF, WBA and WBO light heavyweight titles.
It was a shocking ending to an intense fight at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ward, Oakland, California, climbed the turnbuckle moments after securing the victory, once referee Tony Weeks waved it off as Kovalev hunched over against the ropes. His arms hung down and his torso bent over like a towel hanging over a rack, after a body shot – the final punch of the fight. Perhaps that body language was good enough for Weeks to stop it, thinking Kovalev threw in the proverbial towel.
“This is fighting. We are boxers. Yes, (Ward) did punch me but he didn’t hurt me. The fight should have continued,” said Kovalev afterward. He also complained about how low those body shots were from Ward. Multiple times in the fight, the action was halted after Kovalev hunched over from a low blow. Weeks warned Ward early on but a point was never deducted. When shown the replay of the stoppage, Kovalev said, “Low blow. Again. Another one.”
“I saw him reacting to body shots that were borderline, so I knew I had him,” said Ward after the win. “I knew he was trying to cover up – that’s what started it right there with the right hand. I went back to the body. I went right back there again and he wasn’t reacting then the referee stopped the fight.”
Kovalev, 30-2-1 (26), had a jab that worked early on and his follow-up right hand kept Ward wary, to start the fight. The Russian controlled the middle of the ring for much of the the contest and Ward seemed to give it to him by relying on his movement and footwork to keep Kovalev’s power right hand from finding its target. When it did get close or Ward found himself in the line of fire, he clinched Kovalev to keep the rhythm choppy and that played into his favor as he smartly scored his body shots. As the fight went into the fourth round, Ward was clearly getting more comfortable but, much like the first fight, there were plenty of close rounds in a highly competitive fight.
“I knew this was going to be different,” proclaimed Ward, 32-0 (16). “He fought a good fight the first time but, when I went back and looked at it, I computed it and tonight I came out all right.”
What wasn’t different was the that Kovalev and his team felt shorted again, this time by Weeks and Ward for what they called dirty tactics. They thought he got the benefit of every doubt but, just before the stoppage happened, there was one thing they couldn’t dispute: a right hand to Kovalev’s chin that was the beginning of the end for him. Kovalev was wobbled badly by it and, for the first time in two fights, he was visibly shaken. Kovalev didn’t seem to complain as the stoppage happened either, probably because he really was tired and hurt at that point.
It seemed like a definitive ending to a rivalry that begged for one but then the replay showed that final blow from Ward and, as it toed the line of being low, there was an underwhelming sense of it. There will always be debate when it comes to Ward-Kovalev and, while it seemed, in this rivalry, they were made for each other, perhaps they weren’t after all.
In a dramatic ending after one round, Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux officially got a knockout win over Moises “Chucky” Flores but it’s a ruling that will surely live in infamy.
Referee Vic Drakulich stood in awe as Flores was sprawled out on the canvas, seemingly asleep from the left hand he took after the closing bell of round one. He was already out of position when the bell was ready to be rung and, when it did, he wasn’t there to break up the two fighters. Both Flores and Rigondeaux threw after the bell but the Cuban landed clean.
Flores, 25-1 (17), could be seen starting to buckle from the shot but, seemingly knowing the shot was late, he deliberately flopped backward and onto the mat – cueing up Drakulich’s confused look as he didn’t know what to do. There was no count from Drakulich and, while it was obvious the fight was over, no one had any clue what the official ruling would be.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission’s deliberation lasted three times as long as the fight itself but, in the end, they ruled Rigondeaux’s punch a legal, one that secured the eighth defense of his WBA junior featherweight title.
“The Mexican was a brave kid. I commend him for getting in the ring with me,” said Rigondeaux, 18-0 (12). “He has more guts than a lot of these other guys. We both threw combinations at the same time, at the end of the first round, but mine was quicker and more accurate. It was only a matter of time. I fight to give the best performance to the public and all the fans. I am making everyone disappear at 122. I am always available. Tell me who is next. I want all of them and will take them out one by one. I hope the whole world sees what it is like to get in the ring with me. I am tired of the press and everyone saying I am boring. You see what happens when someone brings the fight to me.”
“It’s not fair,” opined Flores. “It’s clear that the bell rang. He didn’t throw a punch the whole round. I was winning the round and he waited for after the bell to throw punch when I dropped my hands down.”
Undefeated Russian light heavyweight contender Dmitry Bivol, dominated a wary Cedric Agnew and earned a technical knockout victory, once the fight was stopped in the fourth round.
Bivol, 11-0 (9), had a chance to display his talent against an opponent unwilling to engage. That didn’t stop Bivol, 26, from having a hot start. Working off a pumping right jab, Bivol dropped Agnew in the opening round after a straight right wobbled him. Agnew, 29-3 (15), stumbled forward a little after the shot and proceeded to hide behind his guard for the rest of the round and the rest of the fight. Bivol’s right hand hurt Agnew again in the third but his left hook sealed Agnew’s fate. After it landed in the fourth, Agnew grimaced and pawed at his eye. Referee Russell Mora saw he was distressed and immediately waved off the bout.
“I’m very glad the fight went this way,” said Bivol afterward. “I found my ways that I practiced and I used them and you saw the results. I didn’t think he was going to work more as right-handed, as orthodox, but I was ready for everything, so the fight ran smooth for me. I tried to open him up, but for some reason, he didn’t want to go. He was close; he was very defensive and going back. But, anyways, I won the fight!”
Opening the HBO PPV telecast, Luis “Cuba” Arias delivered an impressive fifth round stoppage win over Arif Magomedov. The middleweight contest was scheduled for 10 rounds.
Arias, 18-0 (9), disregarded any feeling-out process and quickly focused on Magomedov’s body early on. That work gave Arias the freedom to implement an uppercut that was perhaps his most accurate punch of the fight. By the third round, Magomedov, 18-2 (11), couldn’t hide his frustrations and his return fire was frequent.
“Finally! You just heard my name. Top 10, all around. Easy work,” said Arias excitedly after the win.
“There’s really not a lot I can say about this. (Arias) caught me with a really good shot and I couldn’t do anything about it,” lamented Magomedov.
Junior Younan, 12-0 (9), quickly got Zoltan Sera, 29-14 (20), out of there within the first round of their light heavyweight matchup.
“I wanted to come out and make a statement and I did just that!,” proclaimed Younan. “I knew I could get it done in one round. I did all I could. I worked my ass off! The love that I have gotten, since I arrived in Las Vegas, has been tremendous. Thank you! And thank you to my promoter RocNation Sports for getting me to the greatest stage in boxing!”
After four complete rounds, Vaughn Alexander got a stoppage win over Fabiano Peña once the latter bowed out before the fifth could begin, citing a rib injury. The super middleweight contest was scheduled for eight.
Alexander, the older brother of Devon, stood in front of Peña for much of the fight but his cagey defense prevented his Brazilian counterpart from landing anything. Peña, 19-8-1 (15), who fights out of Mexico, constantly slipped shots off the gloves and Alexander’s shoulder, while, in return, would get belted with body shots. That was the game plan of Alexander, 10-0 (7), wait for Pena to throw and come back with accurate rallies to the body and finish off with a right hand upstairs. Peña never seemed visibly hurt throughout the fight but, considering how one-sided it was, his bowing out early prevented it from being monotonous.
“It was a good a good fight for me, another good win,” said Alexander. “Another step to get me closer to where I want to be, amongst the top middleweights. You know, soon, maybe next year, sometime, I can be considered for a world title. I just went in there and worked on my defense, what me and my brother been working on in the gym, throwing more combinations and just taking my time.”
Tramaine “The Mighty Midget” Williams was too much for Christopher Martin and compelled referee Kenny Bayless to stop the bout in the second round to remain unbeaten. The featherweight matchup was scheduled for eight.
Martin, 30-9-3 (10), was irate at Bayless for abruptly waving off the fight, while the former was on his feet and security even had to step into the ring to cool down his tantrum. Beforehand, Williams, 11-0 (4), peppered him with combinations that were highlighted by a straight left hand from the southpaw. The New Haven, Connecticut, native scored a knockdown of Martin in the opening round and, even then, Bayless was looking to make his move. Martin, 30, may have felt his night was wrongfully cut short but, to signify how bad he looked, the San Diego native seemed to expend more energy complaining than he did fighting.
“He was going to take a beating if they let it go for all eight rounds,” proclaimed Williams. “He has a family he has to get back to. It’s a good thing the ref stopped the fight. If there were 10 more seconds in the first round, I would have had him. It would have been over! I’m pretty happy with my performance but I am I am always going to work to be better. Thank you to everyone for tuning in. I hope to be back in the ring next month. In the meantime, I plan on staying in shape and ready to fight. Thank you to RocNation Sports for the opportunity to be on this great card.”
“Bullshit,” was the quote offered by Martin.
Puerto Rican welterweight prospect John Bauza bamboozled Brandon Sanudo for two rounds until the latter’s corner put an end to the fight. Bauza, 7-0 (4), was explosive in his aggression and the 19-year-old got off to a hot start, once sending Sanudo to the canvas in the opening round after a flurry. In the second, a left uppercut dropped Sanudo hard and that’s when his corner alerted referee Kenny Bayless that it was all over. This was the first stoppage loss for Sanudo, 5-6 (2).
“That knockdown felt great! It was an easy win because I worked hard,” said Bauza. “I felt strong in the first round. Thanks to all my followers and supporters. I will keep up great work. Whatever my promoters tell me next will be next.”
Bakhram Murtazaliev, 9-0 (7), handed Alex Sandro Duarte, 12-1-1 (9), his first defeat, only taking 90 seconds to compel a stoppage from referee Robert Byrd. The middleweight contest was scheduled for six rounds.
“I’m very happy,” said the Russian prospect. “The fight went so quickly that I didn’t have time to even think about how I felt. I didn’t intend to knock him out; it just happened.”
The opening bout of the RocNation Sports card featured a battle of unbeaten welterweights; Enriko Gogokhia, 5-0 (2), earned a unanimous decision over Jonathan Steele, 7-1 (5), after six rounds of action.
“I thought it was a good fight. I really wanted to knock (Steele) out but I also wanted to play with him and make him go a little harder,” said Gogokhia, a Georgian fighting out of Los Angeles. “He was just the fighter I thought he would be and I was prepared for him. I am happy with my performance.”