Purses: Kovalev $2M, Ward $5M
By Eric Baldwin: Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) will be going into this Saturday’s fight as the challenger to IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs), but he’ll still be receiving the much bigger guaranteed purse for their fight on HBO pay-per-view at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ward will be making a purse of $5 million in guaranteed money compare to just $2 million for Kovalev, according to ESPN.com. Ward is getting almost three times the amount of Kovalev despite the fact that the Russian fighter is a three-belt world champion and Ward just the ring rusty challenger, who hasn’t done much in the sport since 2013.
(Photo credit: Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Roc Nation Sports)
Kovalev is expected to make more than $2 million due to him getting a percentage of the money made from the pay-per-view event. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Kovalev-Ward fight brings in more pay-per-view buys than the recent fight between Manny Pacquiao and WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas on November 5 of the month. That fight brought in around 300,000 buys on HBO, according to their promoter Bob Arum. Those are not good PPV numbers for Pacquiao, who used to bring in over 1 million buys for his fights during his best years. There appears to be a lot of interest from the boxing public in the Kovalev-Ward fight. There’s no way of knowing if it will do better than the Pacquiao-Vargas fight, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least that the fight does better numbers. The Pacquiao-Vargas fight was just not a good match-up at all and neither was the Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley 3 fight.
From what I can see, there seems to be much more news about the Kovalev vs. Ward fight than the Pacquiao-Bradley match-up earlier this month. It’s a better fight on paper with both Kovalev and Ward being unbeaten fighters battling it out for supremacy in the light heavyweight division, as well as for the pound-for-pound title potentially.
“It’s simple. He don’t like me, and I don’t like him,” Ward said at today’s weigh-in in speaking about Ward. “He’s the champion, so I respect him as a champion. I’m trying to become a two-division world champion, and I’m not leaving Las Vegas without those [three] belts. I believe [Saturday] night will be the best performance you’ve ever seen from me. I believe great fighters rise to the occasion, and that’s what I’ll do.”
Kovalev needs to beat Ward for him to keep rising as a star in boxing. If Kovalev wants to get bigger paydays than his opponents, then he needs to defeat Ward and leave no doubt who the better man is in this fight. One way for Kovalev to achieve that goal is to knockout Ward. A KO would be an exclamation point on the win by showing that he’s the superior fighter of the two. Ward will no doubt be trying to use his boxing skills to outclass Kovalev like he’s done most of his opponents during his 12-year pro career.
Kovalev has the power to negate Ward’s advantage in the skills department. Ward hasn’t fought a puncher like Kovalev during his entire career. The closest that Ward has come to facing a guy with Kovalev’s power is his fight against former super middleweight champion Carl Froch in 2011. However, Froch was never a knockout artist in the class of Kovalev, even though he was a very good puncher. Froch never had that one-punch power that Kovalev has with both hands. Ward may find it more difficult to take the power of Kovalev, especially after his five years of being mostly inactive after winning the Super Six tournament in 2011.
Ward has fought since winning the tourney, but he’s only fought five times in five years. It’s impossible for a fighter to stay sharp if they’re going to fight only five times in five years. If Ward were an NFL player during that same stretch of time, it would be impossible for him to be the same player that he once was if he competed in just five games in five years. That goes along with the argument that Kovalev’s trainer John David Jackson has been making about Ward. Jackson thinks the five years of less than full time activity in boxing has caused Ward’s skills to deteriorate to the point where he’s now in decline. Ward isn’t admitting that he’s declined physically, but it’s difficult not to arrive at that conclusion when looking at his last three fights.
You can bet that Ward is going to give it his all to try and take Kovalev’s titles tomorrow night. If Ward does fail to win, he’ll at least have exhausted every imaginable game plan in his arsenal. Ward isn’t just going to give up if Plan-A fails to work in the Kovalev fight. Ward can adapt on the fly, and he
He’ll fallback on a predetermined backup plan to use if things aren’t going well. That in turn is going to put pressure on Kovalev to come up with an idea that can negate what Ward’s doing, especially if what he’s doing is effective. Kovalev has good boxing skills, but doubt that he’ll be any kind of match for Kovalev.
It is unclear how many pay-per-view buys the Kovalev vs. Ward fight will bring in on HBO pay-per-view.
Other purses on the card:
Light heavyweight Isaac Chilemba (24-4-2, 10 KOs) will be getting $150,000 for his fight against unbeaten 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Oleksandr Gvozdyk (11-0, 9 KOs). For his part, Gvozdyk will be getting $100,000. At today’s weigh-in, Chilemba weighed in at 174.75lbs, as did Gvozdyk.
Chilemba and Gvozyk will be fighting a 10 round bout in the co-feature bout.
Middleweight Curtis Stevens (28-5, 21 KOs) will be receiving a purse of $42,500 while his opponent James De La Rosa (23-4, 13 KOs) will be getting $22,500. Earlier on Friday, the 31-year-old Stevens weighed in at 157.5lbs. His opponent De La Rosa, who appears to be badly over-matched in this fight, weighed in at 159.75lbs. Stevens and De La Rosa will be fighting a 10 round bout. This has got to be a major disappointment for Stevens to be fighting De La Rosa instead of the likes of David Lemieux, who he was interested in fighting.
Undefeated light welterweight Maurice Hooker (21-0-2, 16 KOs) will be getting a purse of $75,000 for his fight against former WBA lightweight champion Darleys Perez (33-2-1, 21 KOs) for their 10 round fight. For his part, Perez will be receiving a purse of $25,000. The 33-year-old Perez was recently knocked out by Anthony Crolla of the UK in the 5th round last year in November 2015 in a fight in which Perez lost his WBA lightweight title at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. Since that fight, Perez has beaten journeyman Ubadel Soto by a 2nd round knockout. You don’t like to see a fighter staying out of the ring for as long as Perez though after a loss. He was stopped with a body punch by Crolla rather than a head shot. Perez should have come back from the loss quicker. Hooker weighed in at 139 pounds during Friday’s weigh-in. Perez came in a little lighter at 137.5lbs. This could be a tough fight for Perez, because he’s been fighting at lightweight his entire seven-year pro career. Moving up five pounds heavier to fight a guy like Hooker is going to be tough.