By Allan Fox: Andre “SOG” Ward will be getting a nice purse of $6.5 million guaranteed in the biggest payday of his 13-year pro career in his rematch tonight against former light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev.
Ward will be defending his IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight titles that he won in a controversial fight against Kovalev last November.
For his part, Kovalev will be getting a percentage of the pay-per-view revenue from HBO PPV. Kovalev, 34, will be getting 75% of the income that his promoters at Main Events are bringing in.
It’ll be a percentage of the PPV and the overall ticket sales. However, with a lot of the attention from the boxing pubic now on the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor fight, the pay-per-view numbers for tonight’s rematch between Ward and Kovalev may not be high enough to reach the 160,000 buys the fight pulled in last November on HBO. Ward’s minimum purse of $6.5 million looks very good compared to what Kovalev could wind up with.
This is the second time that Ward has gotten the better deal than Kovalev. For their previous fight, Ward was paid $5 million in guaranteed money compared to Kovalev’s $2 million. Here’s the kicker. Kovalev was the IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion and Ward just the challenger.
Ward ended up with the far better deal of the two compare to Kovalev. Beyond that, Ward ended up winning a controversial 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 114-113. The scores could have gone the other way in favor of Kovalev, because he scored a knockdown of Ward and appeared to do the better work in the first 6 rounds. It should have been enough for him to get the win.
In looking at the different purses, it’s understandable why Kovalev is so angry at Ward. He’s no making nearly as much for the fight. Of course, Kovalev could have moved on and fought someone else in the light heavyweight division instead of a rematch with Ward, but he wouldn’t have made as much money. Even if Kovalev winds up making between $1-2 million for tonight’s rematch with the 33-year-old Ward, it’s still more than he’d make if he fought one of the contenders in the division.
What really hurts the Ward-Kovalev 2 fight was Mayweather’s announcement of his fight with McGregor for August 26. The timing was rotten for the Ward vs. Kovalev 2 promotion, and it could ultimately badly undercut the PPV numbers for the fight.
As of Friday, there were still tickets on sale for the Ward vs. Kovalev 2 rematch at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. A lot of the focus went immediately from the Ward and Kovalev rematch to the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight, even though it’s not much of a fight. It’s more of a circus fight.
Start time: Ward-Kovalev begins at 6:00 p.m. PT/9:00 p.m. ET.
Where to watch on TV: on HBO PPV at Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, Nevada
“We’re going to shut the door on this, and take all doubt and all questions off the table,” said Ward.
It would be in Ward’s best interest if there was a draw if not another controversial decision against Kovalev. After this fight, Ward isn’t going to have anyone to face at 175. There are no big names in the light heavyweight division other than Kovalev and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson. Ward has already made it clear that he’s not interested in fighting the southpaw Stevenson.
So if you remove Stevenson and Kovalev off the table, it leaves Ward with pretty much nobody to fight in terms of a big name. Artur Beterbiev is likely going to be Ward’s International Boxing Federation mandatory challenger soon if he beats Enrico Koelling in their IBF eliminator match.
Beterbiev isn’t well-known with the casual boxing fans in the U.S. Ward can’t fight Beterbiev on HBO PPV, because it’s not a sellable fight. Ward’s overall best option is a third fight against Kovalev if their contest tonight ends up creating enough of a buzz to get the fans interested in paying to see them face each other a third time.
It would be great if Ward changes his mind about not wanting to fight Stevenson. That would be a fight that would be worthy of PPV. However, Stevenson has a mandatory defense due for his WBC title against Eleider Alvarez. The WBC would need to let Stevenson steer around the fight with Alvarez to face Ward in a unification.
“I am planning to put on a show,” said Ward in talking about the Kovalev fight. ”A lot of people talk about his jab and the right hand, but if you look at the second part of the fight, he wasn’t landing right hands and jabs.”
It seems to bother Ward that Kovalev was getting the better of him with his jab and right hands during their fight last November. Ward only partially took Kovalev’s jab and right hand away from him. Ward doesn’t say HOW he took away Kovalev’s jab and right hands. He did it by taking the fight to the inside, and keeping it there for long stretches.
When Ward would try and box Kovalev from the outside, he was still getting hit by him. Kovalev was still landing the harder shots to the very end of the fight when he was on the outside. Ward didn’t take Kovalev’s weapons away by standing and fighting him in a boxing match. Ward took Kovalev’s tools away by turning it into a street fight on the inside. It wasn’t technical on the inside by Ward. It was more of nullifying fight. Ward wasn’t going to let Kovalev get the etter of him on the outside, especially after he was dropped by him.
We’ll see whether the Mayweather-McGregor fight will hurt the PPV sales for the Kovalev and Ward fight. If the rematch fails to reach the 160K that we saw last November between Kovalev and Ward, then it’s likely that Mayweather-McGregor’s announcement hurt the fight’s bottom line. Up until this week, there seemed to be a great deal of interest in the Ward vs. Kovalev 2 second match.
There’s been a lot of bad blood between Ward and Kovalev in the buildup to their second fight. It would be a shame if their rematch doesn’t bring in the earnings of the first fight. Ward is pretty safe though with him getting a $6.5 million guaranteed purse. The one that will be hurt is Kovalev.
It remains to be seen whether or not the Mayweather-McGregor fight will cut into Kovalev’s earnings. With what Ward and Kovalev’s camps have called a ‘circus fight,’ looming over the boxing world, it’s possible that Ward and Kovalev will not get the attention it deserves. However, just last November, these two were the blockbuster fight of the fall. Despite the other headlines coming out this week, both fully expect to get their due. And Ward and Kovalev certainly aren’t exactly bonding over the spotlight being stolen from them.
In undercard purses, WBA Super World super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11 KOs) will be getting a purse of $125,000 for his title defense against #1 WBA Moises Flores (25-0, 17 KOs). For his part, Flores will be getting a purse of $25,000.
Middleweight Arif Magomedov (18-1, 11 KOs) will be getting a purse of $25,000 for his 10 roun fight against Luis Arias (17-0, 8 KOs). Arias will also be getting a purse of $25,000.