ANDRE WARD brushed off the controversy that surrounded his hard-earned points victory over Sergey Kovalev, and exclaimed he was the right winner. Boxing News agreed with the 114-113 score that all three judges tallied, but many observers – particularly American media – felt that Kovalev deserved the decision.

“I would love every fight to be a shutout, where I don’t get touched, but you have to win like this sometimes,” Ward said.

“Beforehand, I watched Sugar Ray Leonard and his fights with Tommy Hearns, and both of his fights with Roberto Duran. I was looking at his mannerisms to see how he dealt with adversity.

“I’m pleased and I’m happy. Of course I wish it was a dominant performance in terms of the scorecards. But this was a tough victory against someone a lot of people thought would stop me. We did what we had to do, we got stronger, and I’m very happy.”

In the opening two rounds, it looked almost certain that those who picked the Russian to stop Ward were right. The new WBA, IBF and WBO light-heavyweight champion was wobbled in the first round and floored in the second.

“He knocked me down but I wasn’t hurt,” Ward continued. “It was what they call a flash knockdown. I was on the canvas and I smiled. I thought, ‘Okay, here we go, now we’ve got a fight’.”

That Ward not only survived, but also went on to win the fight was a tremendous effort. But more than any contest in recent memory, there was a divide in opinion about who deserved the spoils that is threatening to overshadow what was a high quality contest.

“I can’t do anything about the controversy,” Ward said. “It was a close fight, it’s boxing. If I honestly felt I lost the fight, I would tell you guys. I would hold my hands up and say, ‘I don’t know what happened, the judges got it wrong, I lost.’ But that’s not how I feel.”

Kovalev and his team insist there will be in immediate rematch. Should that occur, Ward predicts he will win more convincingly.

“I think the second fight would be even worse for him,” he said. “I don’t know how many adjustments he can make.”