Sergey Kovalev retained his WBO light heavyweight title with a seventh-round knockout of Cedric Agnew, who was dropped three times during the HBO-televised fight, on Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
Kovalev (24-0-1, 22 knockouts) scored knockdowns in Rounds 2, 6 and 7. A three-punch combination — left-right-left — put the 27-year-old challenger down at the end of Round 2. A grazing shot atop Agnew's head pushed the crafty southpaw into a corner where his butt touched the bottom ropes, prompting referee Sammy Viruet to call a technical knockdown. The end came 58 seonds into Round 7, when a left to the body dropped Agnew to one knee where he remained for Viruet's full 10 count.
It was a dominant performance for the 30-year-old Russian puncher but it didn't come easy. Agnew (26-1, 13 KOs) came to win. The Chicago native blocked most of Kovalev's hard punches with a guard and he fired back in spots with lead hooks and body shots. He drew blood with an accidental headbutt and elbow, which appeared to anger Kovalev in Round 4, but he could not match the Russian's power, which eventually wore him down and set him up for the body shot that ended the fight.
"He has good defense and I found the key for his defense, left to the body," Kovalev said of Agnew and the stoppage, adding, "this was very good for me," when asked about having to fight past four rounds for the first time in nearly two and half years. "I was ready for 12 rounds," Kovalev said.
When asked about Adonis Stevenson, THE RING/WBC champ that he had hoped to fight later this year, Kovalev was short and hardcore, like his compact punches.
"I don't want to speak about Adonis Stevenson," Kovalev said of the Canada-based champ, who announced that he would be fighting on Showtime earlier this week, dashing the plans of HBO, which televised both light heavyweights last year.
"Adonis Stevenson is a piece of s__t."
A full ringside report from Joe Santoliquito will be posted soon.