Rigondeaux earns controversial knockout win on Ward-Kovalev undercard

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"The people who are going to buy our fight are still going to buy it and come out", Ward said.

Ward improves his record with 32 wins with 16 stoppages whild Kovalev dropped to 30-2-1, 26 KOs.

Ward won the first fight by a unanimous decision though many thought Kovalev deserved the victory after knocking down Ward in the second round and appearing to have the edge in some tight rounds.

In the second round, Ward just missed with a big right hand and then grazed Kovalev with a left-right combination - just before Ward landed a low blow and was warned by Weeks.

"Krusher" tried to drain Ward's desire for battle with body shots in the sixth, but the American displayed his reflexes with clever counter punches in the seventh and would deliver a stunning punch in the next round. "You've got to raise your game to the next level and thankfully that's what we did tonight".

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At the first Ward-Kovalev weigh-in, on November 18, 2016, the fighters had to be separated. It doesn't mean you stop a fight every time somebody gets hurt.

"I am looking forward to making a statement in this fight, and removing any doubt that may be out there", Ward said.

Ward cautious, as Kovalev goes to the body. "I knew he was hurt". Two of the three judges had Ward ahead by a point. Between exchanges, Ward used his lead hand to control distance, while on the inside he smothered much of Kovalev's offense.

It led to bitter feelings on both sides - Kovalev feeling he was robbed, and Ward feeling he got no credit for the victory. But if Kovalev got stopped only because of that - and he didn't, because, reminder, lots of legal blows, too, including one that rocked his ass - then maybe he was going to get stopped anyway.

“When I see his face I want to bash him, ” Kovalev said. "I can't think that way". I was better and he was better this fight. "I didn't feel like I was getting knocked down by the power of his punches".

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Ward, who won an Olympic gold in 2004 and hasn't lost a fight since he was 12, took a few rounds to find his mark but once he did the two engaged in close rounds that were hard to score. "It's more motivation, definitely more motivation", Ward says. adding, "He needs to be silenced".

If the matchup isn't attractive enough, the two fighters have a genuine dislike for each other they were not afraid to voice this week. "I had a couple of missions in mind when I came to Las Vegas-to glorify God with my performance and the way I act outside the ring, to defend my belts that I won back in November, and to get home and kiss my wife and kids", he said. With Kovalev clearly hurt, Ward poured on the punishment with a heavy barrage of punches to the body as referee Tony Weeks kept a close eye on the action.

In his post-fight interview, Kovalev questioned the intervention of Weeks and suggested that he had received an illegal punch.

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