But he also was landing legit low blows throughout, the kind that slowed Kovalev in the first fight.
Either way, despite the lack of promotion, the rematch between Ward and Kovalev features one of the best bouts in boxing between two of the sport's best fighters and two of the sport's most bitter rivals. Ward then began pounding Kovalev to the midsection again, and Kovalev bent over helplessly. Why did Tony Weeks stop the fight?
"I don't know, I can't explain it", Kovalev said. I'm sure he's made some adjustments and he's going to come harder, but I'm ready.
Andrew Ward (left) proved that his previous win over Sergey Kovalev was not a gift.
This scribe had Kovalev winning the first three and losing the next four. "That's not just talk, that's real", Ward said.
"Championship fights start in second half, in the sixth round. It's insane. I want to get again a fight with him". When you go to the body, you got to keep going back down there.' Ward smiled. "I respect them, but you got to find the right opponent and the right situation". He eventually partnered his body work with clean hooks to the head, which broke the Krusher down over rounds 4, 5, and 6.
"I'm locked in on what I've got to".
Kovalev seemed in shock after the fight.
He continued: "With all the excuse making and all the things he's been saying since the last fight, those are some deeper issues".
When the fight was stopped, two judges had Ward up on the scorecards with the third judge giving the edge to Kovalev through seven rounds.
Kovalev complains of another low blow by Weeks says to fight on.
This is shameful for him and the whole boxing. I've thought about going cruiserweight. I've already said enough. The first was Chad Dawson. "I knew he was hurt, trying to cover up".
"We will take a look at it". The two had stood together after 12 rounds on November 19, standing on each side of referee Robert Byrd.
Kovalev, 34, a native of Russian Federation, didn't immediately protest the stoppage but later voiced his anger during a post fight interview. Truly, it was a stunning and brutal end for the light heavyweight title fight. From the promoters, through the trainers and all the way down to the boxers, the enmity was both authentic and palpable leading up to fight night at the Mandalay Bay.
And it was the power of Kovalev who struck early.
It wasn't that nobody expected Ward to prevail, but he simply isn't known for his firepower, and prior to Saturday had enjoyed only two early nights since 2009 - against Chad Dawson and Paul Smith Jr - and both were mercy stoppages.
Ward (31-0, 15 knockouts) isnt about to invite Kovalev over for dinner, either. He got away and we don't have a beef with Ward. We'll see how many fools are born in the interim. Ward is a very smart fighter. Hunter remembered a guy who once asked him if Ward would become a superstar in the game. "But he'll beat superstars".