Ward’s promoter expects higher PPV numbers for Kovalev rematch
By Allan Fox: If there is to be a rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev in 2017, the pay-per-view numbers should be higher than their previous numbers for their fight on November 19 in 2016, according to Ward’s promoter Michael Yormark of Ro Nation Sports. The previous Kovalev-Ward fight brought in 160,000 buys on HBO PPV. This was seen as disappointing numbers in the eyes of a lot of boxing fans, because normally big fights like that one bring in far more than 160K on PPV. However, Yormark blames the low numbers on the fact that both guys were headlining a PPV fight for the first time.
Yormark believes the rematch will bring in more if there is one. Right now, it’s still up in the air whether Ward will continue his boxing career to face the 33-year-old Kovalev (30-1-1, 6 KOs) a second time.
Ward (31-0, 15 KOs) keeps saying the rematch has to make business sense. According to Kovalev’s promoter Kathy Duva, the purse split for the rematch is already in the original contract, so she doesn’t understand what Ward is talking about. The numbers are already in the original contract. She says that unless Ward is talking about something from Roc Nation’s side, she can’t understand where he’s coming from.
Some boxing fans think that Ward wants the contract reworked to be sweetened in order for him to fight Kovalev a second time. I don’t know if that’s going to happen. Hopefully, Ward doesn’t retire if he doesn’t get what he wants from Kovalev’s management. There’s a lot of fans who want to see the rematch between them, because they feel that Kovalev was robbed of a decision win. Ward defeated Kovalev by a 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 114-113, 114-113 and 114-113. With the defeat, Kovalev lost his IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight titles.
Yormark said this to RingTV.com about his belief that the PPV numbers will be greater for the Ward-Kovalev rematch:
“I will tell you, if they were to get into the ring again, I think the numbers will be much greater the next time based on the way the fight ended and the anticipation,” said Yormark. “But looking at it objectively, the number was probably where the number was going to be.”
The PPV numbers probably will be better for the Ward vs. Kovalev rematch. Although it’s not likely they’ll be that much better to put the realm of the huge PPV numbers we used to see in the past with Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. You can always hope that the numbers will be huge for the rematch, but I don’t think that’s practical. One problem holding it back was the fact that the Kovalev vs. Ward fight last November was a boring one to watch.
There was a lot of wrestling by Ward, and not much in the way of action other than jabbing in the later rounds. The fight was interesting for the first two rounds, but after round 2, Ward started wrestling, and the fight went from a boxing match to horrible MMA-type of stand-up fight. All the fight needed was a cage, and it would have been perfect for MMA. It was so boring to watch. The referee that worked the fight did nothing to control the holding.
The referee was just standing around looking like he was watching the non-action like the rest of the fans. Besides the fight being a boring one, the controversial results with Ward winning rather than Kovalev will likely cause a lot of boxing fans to save their money. If they think that the fight will be a repeat like last time with Ward getting beaten but still getting the decision, I don’t think the fans will bother purchasing it a second time.
It is possible that the Ward-Kovalev rematch will do better numbers than the first fight, but I don’t think it’ll be that much better. The key to it not doing super well is the fact that their previous was very boring. Fans don’t want to see wrestling matches. They want to see fighting, and there wasn’t much fighting the last time these guys faced each other.
“When you go back to Mayweather and Pacquiao and Canelo and some of the big pay-per-view fighters that we’ve seen over the last five to seven years, the numbers that we saw coming out of Ward-Kovalev were basically right in that sweet spot,” said Yormark about the Kovalev-Ward fight.
Comparing the Kovalev-Ward fight with exciting fighters like Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Saul Canelo Alvarez doesn’t work, because you’re talking about different guys. Mayweather was never really super exciting to watch, but his hand speed and defense made it interesting for boxing fans. Mayweather didn’t hold a lot like we saw with Ward in the Kovalev fight. Pacquiao and Canelo are all-action fighters that don’t hold. They entertain with their fights.
The Kovalev vs. Ward fight was just a wrestling match, and there’s no promise from that fight that the rematch will be any different. Why would it? Ward cannot beat Kovalev in a stand up fight from the outside. We saw that clearly in the first two rounds of the fight. Ward was not in the same league as Kovalev when it came to the actual fighting from the outside.
The only way Ward could compete was by smothering Kovalev by wrestling him for the next 10 rounds while the referee just stood and watched the holding without doing anything about it. In the rematch, if there is one, Ward will very likely start in where he left off with the holding, mauling and wrestling. That’s the only thing that actually worked for Ward against Kovalev.
Of course, Ward is going to go back to that type of fighting, because he’s not good enough to win a fight on the outside. I think a young Andre Ward would dominate Kovalev from the outside, but not the 32-year-old version we saw last November. Ward has gotten older, and he’s not fast or mobile like he used to be. The only thing Ward has left is his wrestling ability.
I don’t see a lot of boxing fans purchasing the rematch in high numbers, because there’s nothing there that promises that the fight is going to be any different than the first one. If anything, it’ll be MUCH more boring, because Ward will start with the holding/wrestling from round 1 rather than round 3. If the fans heard news about a high quality referee being assigned to the fight that won’t put up with wrestling, then I think the fight might sell more PPV buys, because the boxing fans would know that the referee won’t put up with non-boxing. That’s not going to happen though. I think the fight will be a repeat of the first fight, but much, much worse when it comes to the holding from Ward.
Ward feels he doesn’t have much to prove other than shutting up Kovalev’s management by beating him a second time. Ward doesn’t seem all that motivated for a second fight. Is Ward really not motivated or is he just acting like he’s not interested so that he can get a better deal in the rematch. It’s hard to know what Ward’s thought process. From the outside looking in, I can’t understand why Ward would be satisfied with his win over Kovalev, given that so many boxing fans felt that the wrong won the fight.