Ward edges out Kovalev to win light heavyweight world titles
Former super middleweight world champion Andre Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) dethroned previously undefeated Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) by unanimous decision to win the IBF, WBA and WBO light heavyweight titles on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Ward battled back from a second round knockdown to edge Kovalev by scores of 114-113 on all three scorecards and become a two-weight world champion.
Kovalev got the better of the early action, as he rocked Ward with a stiff left jab in the first round. The Russian found the target again with some hard shots in the second and when Ward tried to respond with his own punches, Kovalev countered with a right hook that sent him to the canvas.
Ward managed to get to his feet and made it out of the round but looked a bit shaky and clinched his opponent throughout the following rounds as he tried to avoid Kovalev's big punches.
Kovalev remained on the attack with Ward on the counter, but the American came on strong in the second half of the fight.
Ward grew in confidence as the rounds progressed, connecting with his jab and using good movement.
Kovalev continued to have his moments in the later rounds but Ward was landing the cleaner shots, including a solid combination in the 10th.
Both fighters went toe-to-toe in the 12th in an attempt to secure the victory that in the end, was awarded to Ward.
Although after this closely contested affair, many will dispute the decision and the two seem set for a second meeting.
Ward said: "This sounds so good - new light heavyweight champion. This is my most important and satisfying win."
Kovalev said: "It was a fight of my life. I am disappointed in the judges decision."