For budget teams, the floor increased just $1.4 million from $54 million.
When they meet for a rematch, the WBA, WBO, IBF and The Ring light heavyweight titles will be on the line. The two were staging a tense, tactical fight until Ward popped Kovalev with a left at the beltline, which seemed to stun the former champion. Duva admitted, though, she has little hopes a protest would succeed. "Sergey kept getting hit low and they didn't do anything about it". Ward then back him up against the ropes and landed three left hooks to Kovalev's body, one which was a low blow that was missed by referee Tony Weeks.
Kovalev contended the blows were fouls and demanded another immediate rematch, but his less-than-fearsome posture prior to the climax indicated the intangible tide had already turned and effectively took the teeth out of yet another "I'll kick his a- (next time)" post-fight promise. I didn't feel that hurt. "Right now, I could have continued".
Ward won the pair's first meeting last November via a unanimous but tight decision, with Kovalev aggrieved at the result having knocked Ward down in round two, and the rematch was eagerly anticipated.
Following his win, Ward mentioned the possibility of even testing higher weight divisions but for now he'll celebrate his TKO over Kovalev while shutting the door on that rivalry for the time being. Kovalev did his best to hold on but was hit low for the third time without losing a point. Their records are nearly identical and both fight with a great deal of intelligence.
But no it was Ward who was the more aggressive and stronger fighter on this night and he began to go to work on Kovalev's body early in the fight and began to break him down. What can not be questioned is the right hand that clearly sapped the fight out of Kovalev. And from the looks of things last night, Ward vs Kovalev 2 was a continuation of rounds 5 to 12 of their first encounter.
"He's really lucky, 'Son of Judges, '" Kovalev said of Ward, playing off Ward's nickname, "Son of God".
Kovalev himself could not contain his anger at his post-fight press conference, calling the refereeing of the fight "bull****".
"Hopefully, against a great fighter like Sergey Kovalev, we'll get our credit tonight and get atop that pound-for-pound list".
Kovalev was angry and said that the American judges were biased toward Ward. "Kovalev fought a good fight but once I compute a fighter in my brain and have him in there, I know what I need to do the next time around". Are they trying to get better, or are they laying all their eggs in the basket that says they won the first fight, so they don't have to? "I'm not into taking two (punches) to get one".
"I'm excited to fight on this card with the best light heavyweights". He also suggested he could become a cruiserweight.