For those who still debate the outcome of the first fight between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev, there is the chance to take it all in at least one more time.
As part of the network's shoulder programming in advance of the upcoming June 17 HBO Pay-Per-View headlining light heavyweight title fight rematch between Ward and Kovalev at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, HBO Sports has announced plans to replay their first meet. The exclusive rebroadcast will air Friday, June 9 (12:45am ET/PT) and again on Saturday, June 10 (9:00am ET/PT).
The fight will also be available 24 hours a day to HBO NOW, HBO On Demand® and HBO GO® subscribers and on affiliate portals beginning Monday, June 5.
Ward (31-0, 15KOs) successfully claimed Kovalev's slew of light heavyweight titles with a 12-round points win last November at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, although the outcome remains widely disputed to this very day. Kovalev controlled the action over the first half, including a clean knockdown of Ward in the round two and appeared well on his way to victory. Ward narrowed the gap over the second half to where all three judges - Burt Clements, Glenn Trowbridge and John McKaie - had him coming all the way back to win by identical scores of 114-113.
Kovalev (30-1-1, 26KOs) naturally felt he was robbed of victories, his titles and his undefeated record. The Russian knockout artist was backed by a groundswell of support, as most viewers believed he'd done enough early in the fight - as well as win just enough rounds over the back half - to have deserved a far better fate.
Instead, he will have to settle for revenge. That chance came with the task of being dragged through yet another round of exhausting negotiations with the unbeaten two-division world champion, who is also the last American male boxer to capture an Olympic Gold medal (2004 Athens Olympics). Neither boxer has since been in the ring.
The loss ended Kovalev's run of more than three years with at least one light heavyweight title. He first won a belt in a 4th round stoppage of Nathan Cleverly in Aug. '13, making eight successful defenses along the way. Included among the lot was his 12-round shutout of legendary Bernard Hopkins to add two more titles to his collection in their Nov. '14 meet.
Ward's win over Kovalev was his first title fight since Nov. '13. He'd fought three times in between, all in non-title fights since reigning as World super middleweight champion before officially giving up his crown in late 2015.