Ward-Barrera averages 1.064M viewers on HBO
By Dan Ambrose: Andre Ward (29-0, 15 KOs) and previously unbeaten Sullivan Barrera (17-1, 12 KOs) brought in an average of 1.064 million viewers with a peak of 1.152 million viewers on HBO Boxing in their fight last Saturday night at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.
This was the first of Ward’s three-fight contract with HBO Boxing. His second fight will be taking place this summer barring any unforeseen injury on Ward’s part. If he wins that fight, then he’ll be facing IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in November on HBO pay-per-view.
The ratings were good for a fighter that hasn’t been active since 2011. Ward stopped fighting on a frequent basis once the Super Six tournament ended in 2011. Since then, Ward has either fought once per year or not at all. With the way that Ward fought against Barrera, it doesn’t look like he’s ever going to be the fighter that he was back in 2011 and before.
Ward won the fight by a 12 round unanimous decision, but it wasn’t the dominating Ward that we’d seen from him in the past during his best years of his career. The Ward we saw last Saturday night was an older, slower version, who didn’t throw a lot of punches. In fact, Barrera threw over 200 more punches in the fight than Ward, and Barrera isn’t known for having a high punch output.
If Ward is finding himself being outworked that badly by a fighter not known for having a high punch output, what’s going to happen when Ward fights the likes of Sergey Kovalev, Adonis Stevenson or Artur Beterbiev? Those fighters all throw many more punches per round than Barrera, and they’re faster than him.
For Ward, this was his first fight at the full weight for the light heavyweight division.
Ward and Kovalev will both be taking one more tune-up fight against other opponents before they face each other in November.
It’s going to be very important for both Kovalev and Ward to look good in their summer fights if they want to attract fans to their November fight on HBO PPV. You don’t really need to worry about Kovalev, because he always makes it exciting with his slugging style of fighting. But in the case of Ward, he’ll need to let his hands go and put some forward pressure on his next opponent if he’s to help create interest in the Kovalev fight. There are large portions of the Ward-Barrera fight that were frankly boring to watch due to Ward playing it safe.
Kovalev is fighting at a very high level right now, as he’s looked great recently in twice stopping Jean Pascal, and defeating Nadjib Mohammedi and Bernard Hopkins in his last four fights. Only Hopkins was able to go the distance with Kovalev, and you can argue the only reason that Hopkins made it that far was because he was fighting totally defensive and not really trying to win the fight.
If Ward attempts to beat Kovalev, he’s going to take an awful lot of punishment along the way. It’s quite possible we’ll see Ward play it safe once he feels Kovalev’s power early on, and not really try to win the fight. Ward doesn’t have the work rate to compete with Kovalev.
Ward will need to try and make Kovalev miss all night long like he was doing with Barrera, and that could make for a very boring fight for the boxing fans that will be paying to see the match-up on HBO PPV.
Hopefully for the fans’ sake, Ward comes to fight and not just play defense all night long. You’d hate to see the fans upset, and you also would also hate to see Ward lose fans due to his safety first style of fighting.
Ward captured a gold medal for the United States in the 2004 Olympics. However, instead of being able to cash big in on his gold medal like other previous U.S Olympic gold medalists like Oscar Dela Hoya before him, Ward fought rarely from 2011. He won the Super Six tournament in 2011, and it looked like he was on his way to stardom. Unfortunately for Ward, he’s not fought enough in the last five years to take his career to the next level.
The co-feature bout on the Ward-Barrera fight between fringe featherweight contender Joseph Diaz and Jayson Velez averaged 756,000 viewers with a peak of 875,000 viewers. Diaz easily won the fight by a one-sided 10 round decision.