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Representatives for Sergey Kovalev plan to file a protest with the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Monday after Andre Ward's eighth-round knockout win in their light heavyweight championship bout Saturday night at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

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.

"Facing great fighters, you've got to raise your game to the next level and I'm thankful we did that tonight".

"Then I hurt him with a head shot and I just had to get the right shots in there to get it over with".

Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev will meet for the second time Saturday in a fight between arguably the two best light heavyweights, but there's a prospect on the undercard who could soon join the picture.

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.

Ward was leading by one point on two of three judges' scorecards when the fight ended, while Kovalev had a three-point bulge on one card thanks to an effective early start. But there were a couple of times when I was crying, because I thought we'd have to postpone the fight. Why did Tony Weeks stop the fight?

Mr. Ward continues to respond with the class he has always shown both inside and outside the ring.

The clinches initiated by Ward, most of the time, were an avenue for his body punches to find their way home from the inside. "I said Andre was in the best shape of his life and that he was as motivated as he has ever been for a fight in his life".

Indeed, the win boosted Ward to 32-0 and marked his 16th stoppage in a career that's now six months past its 12th birthday, stretching back to when he came out of the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece, with the only US boxing gold medal. They can be just as painful as a hard low blow.

Kovalev, 34, a native of Russian Federation, didn't immediately protest the stoppage but later voiced his anger during a post fight interview. "Some of you think I lost the fight, but you've got to look at the other side of that coin".

Kovalev did the bulk of his damage to Ward's head in their first meeting, landing 89 percent (113 of his 126) of his total punches. He said later he could actually feel Kovalev weakening.

"I knew that this fight was going to be different", Ward said.

It's been a year of many firsts for the 26-year-old with only 10 professional fights.

Ward cites Roy Jones as his inspiration for believing he can look further up the weight division and put himself in the ring with the biggest athletes the sport has to offer. "It's insane. I want to get again a fight with him".

"You've got me sweating", Ward said, after his trainer had finished stunning everyone present.

Ward and Kovalev have previously met, battling out on November 19 previous year. He got away and we don't have a beef with Ward.

With victory in hand, Ward turned his focus to boosting his case that he, not unbeaten three-belt middleweight champ Gennady Golovkin, is the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer.