Ward vs. Kovalev 2 hurt by Mayweather-McGregor announcement?
By Allan Fox: Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev 2 rematch may have been hurt by the announcement of the news of the August 26 mega-fight between boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr. coming out of retirement to face the UFC’s biggest star Conor McGregor on Showtime PPV. It’s unclear why Mayweather chose to have his fight with McGregor announced during the middle of fight week for the Ward-Kovalev 2 rematch on HBO PPV.
Surely, Mayweather could have waited another week before announcing his big fight with McGregor. Did Mayweather do it on purpose to undermine the Ward vs. Kovalev 2 fight? Mayweather recently criticized Ward, saying that he felt that Kovalev should have won their previous fight on November 19 last year. Ward and Mayweather have gone back and forth in the past with some of the things they’ve said about each other. Did Mayweather choose to announce his fight with McGregor to hurt the Ward vs. Kovalev promotions? It looks that way.
“The question I’ve gotten most often is ‘Do you think this fight should be bigger?’” said Kovalev’s promoter Kathy Duva to the latimes.com. “I looked on Google today and it’s all Mayweather and the circus. It’s a kick in the teeth. This is the fight everybody asks for: The best fighting the best.”
There’s nothing that Duva can do about it to make the boxing fans pay attention to Ward vs. Kovalev 2. We’re talking about casual boxing fans, who probably have no idea who Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev are. Those fans know who Mayweather is, and they’re familiar with McGregor. That’s enough for them to only want to talk about that fight and not Ward-Kovalev II. Duva wasn’t helped last Thursday when her fighter Sergey Kovalev walked out of the final press conference after giving a few comments at the podium.
Kovalev chose not to stay around to be interviewed by the boxing media, which is bad news for the Ward vs. Kovalev 2 promotion. They need Kovalev to be available for interviews so the fight can be as big as possible. The fight STILL hasn’t sold out for the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. With only one day to go before the fight, it doesn’t look like the Ward vs. Kovalev fight is going to sellout the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Moreover, the PPV doesn’t look like it’s going to match the 160,000 buys from last November between Ward and Kovalev.
Ward’s trainer Virgil Hunter thinks the fans are focusing on the fights coming up in three months between Mayweather and McGregor and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.
Virgil Hunter had this to say about the lack of interest from the boxing fans in the Ward-Kovalev 2 promotion:
“One thing I can concur, as Kathy said, was why wasn’t there as much interest? If you go to the websites, you see them talking about fights three to four months from now and we understand. But the best fighters this year, and like [Kathy] said the No. 1 and No. 2 fighters in the world are fighting two days from now. Why is it like it is? I don’t know. I’m sure it may have something to do with Andre Ward and how he stands up for himself as a man, but we’ll leave that alone.”
It’s obvious why there isn’t as much interest in the Ward-Kovalev 2 fight. Mayweather vs. McGregor and Canelo vs. Golovkin are huge fights. Those are big names. Kovalev and Ward aren’t huge stars. They’re simply not big enough names to compete against those guys. The timing of Mayweather announcing his comeback has come at the worst possible time for the promotion of the Ward vs. Kovalev. Sadly, Andre Ward doesn’t think the news about the Mayweather-McGregor fight is hurting his fight with Kovalev. He thinks the fans are going to purchase the fight just like they were always going to do. I don’t agree. I think the Mayweather and McGregor announcement has crippled the Ward-Kovalev 2 rematch.
“The timing of it, we’re in the middle of a fight week, it is what it is,” Ward said to espn.com. “The people that were going to buy our fight are still going to buy our fight. The people that were going to come out are still going to come out. I don’t feel like it affects me one way or another, honestly,” said Ward.
Ward, 33, can think what he wants to think about the Mayweather-McGregor fight having no bearing on his rematch with Kovalev, but I believe the numbers will speak for themselves. It’s not a good sign that Ward’s fight with Kovalev hasn’t sold out. Ward can spin that news anyway he wants to and try and make a positive out of a negative, but it’s definitely a bad thing. Ward and Kovalev is the victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time of their careers.
Only Mayweather knows why he chose this time for him announce his fight with McGregor. Did Mayweather do it to hurt the Ward-Kovalev II rematch and cripple it or was this just something that happened by accident. If Ward is still going to be fighting on PPV in the future, then it won’t be a big deal, because he’ll be alright and make good money at another time. But if this is Ward’s last time fighting on PPV, it would be sad that it’s being impacted by Mayweather.
I don’t see Mayweather making too many more comebacks for paydays in the future, because he’s getting old and he’s throwing away valuable years. If Mayweather doesn’t come back for another 2 years after the McGregor fight, he’ll be 42-years-old, and I question how many boxing fans that will be eager to see someone that old fighting, especially if he’s no longer relevant due to him not competing in the sport. Mayweather is already no relevant, but the casual boxing fans will still purchase his fight with McGregor because of his name.
There’s no question that the Mayweather-McGregor fight has sucked a lot of the air out of the Ward vs. Kovalev 2 fight promotion. The main focus is now on the Mayweather-McGregor fight instead of the Ward-Kovalev II rematch, which is bad news for Main Events and Roc Nation Sports, the promoters for that event. I don’t agree that Ward and Kovalev are the two best fighters in boxing, but I do think they’re both top 5 pound-for-pound fighters, and guys that the fans SHOULD be talking about instead of the circus fight between Mayweather vs. McGregor.
Ward and Kovalev is a sporting event with huge ramifications for boxing in terms of world championship and pound for pound discussion. In contrast, Mayweather-McGregor is more of exhibition type of fight matching one guy from boxing against a fighter from MMA, who will be fighting for the time in a boxing ring. Mayweather and McGregor both have boxing licenses to fight in Nevada, which will validate the fight to a certain extent, but it’s not a real fight where the winner has accomplished anything. McGregor is going to back to fighting in the UFC after the match is over. For his part, Mayweather will go back into retirement after having made a fortune from the McGregor circus fight.
Mayweather isn’t going to fight any of the top boxers, because he would have a hard time. I don’t think you can sell a fight between Mayweather and Danny Garcia now. The same goes for Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao II. Mayweather isn’t going to want to come back and fight someone for 400,000 PPV buys.
Kovalev’s promoter Kathy Duva believes that Mayweather scheduled his fight with McGregor on August 26 so that he can try and push Saul “Canelo” Alvarez off his September 16 fight date so that he can take it for himself. Canelo is facing middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin on September 16 on HBO PPV at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Canelo-Golovkin is a fight that is supposed to bring in a ton of PPV buys.
Some think the fight could even bring in 3 million PPV buys. But with Mayweather scheduling his fight against McGregor directly in front of the Canelo-Golovkin fight, it might not do nearly as well numbers. Duva thinks Mayweather is trying to get Canelo to move off the September date, because it falls on the Mexican holiday, and a lot of the Mexican boxing fans will want to purchase a fight on PPV, even if it’s someone like Mayweather fighting instead of Canelo. It could mean a lot more PPV buys for the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight if he can get Canelo and his promoters at Golden Boy to move off that date.
“Of course it’s bad for boxing,” Duva said in discussing the Mayweather vs. McGregor. “It’s going to suck up all the air in the room. You’re all going to write about it. People will get all excited. And the casual fans we always want to bring into the tent are going to be disappointed again, and it’s going to be years before they want to see another boxing event.”
There two good things about the Mayweather-McGregor fight is it’s a one off type fight, and it’s happening soon. Mayweather was in such a hurry to make the McGregor fight, he scheduled it for only 2 months from the day of the announcement. That means the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight won’t hurt other fight promotions over a prolonged period of time. It’s obviously going to hurt the Miguel Cotto vs. Yoshihiro Kamegai, which is taking place on the same night as the Mayweather-McGregor fight on August 26 on HBO World Championship Boxing. That fight is going to likely have very low ratings, but at least it’s not a PPV fight.