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Sergey Kovalev: I wish Andre Ward stopped me, not the referee

Kovalev defends his WBO light heavyweight crown against fellow Russian Igor Mikhalkin on March 3rd.

Andre Ward v Sergey Kovalev 2 Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

After losing his unbeaten record to Andre Ward along with the rematch, Sergey Kovalev has insisted that he’s ready to push on again and write a new chapter in his boxing career.

The Russian puncher puts his WBO world light heavyweight title on the line against Igor Mikhalkin in New York on on March 3rd, his second fight since losing to Ward last June.

The pair's first first meeting, in November 2016, ended in a tight decision win for the American with Ward controversially stopping Kovalev with a barrage of body shots.

Kopeysk-born Kovalev was seriously wobbled in the eighth round but complained that some of the final blows were below the belt after referee Tony Weeks waved off the fight

Speaking to BoxNation, Kovalev said:

”For me, it would be better if Ward stopped me himself, [if he] dropped me on the floor and the referee started the count.”

The "Krusher" bounced back with a win last November, reclaiming the WBO belt which Ward vacated when he retired, and now admits he is a smarter fighter after suffering his first defeats as a professional.

”I’ve already forgotten about what happened. What happened, happened for a reason. This situation has taught me that I should use [the] boxing gym and sport more every day. Not like I was before. God sent me Ward like a test. Right now, I’m a little bit smarter already with this situation,” he added.

Kovalev, now 34, takes on Mikhalkin at Madison Square Garden Theater, and insists he is not underestimating his fellow Russian.

”He’s a southpaw. That’s already a little uncomfortable, because for a long time I haven’t fought a southpaw. Also his style can be uncomfortable for me too.

”Also, he’s Russian. In Russia, mentally we don’t have a step back. If for you [it’s] very hard, you cannot say, ‘No, stop. I don’t want to fight anymore’. He will be fighting from first bell to last bell, because he’s motivated right now. He’s never fought for a real world title.'

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