Kovalev vs Ward Prefight – There are few fights in the last several years that have received more build-up than this Saturday’s Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward light heavyweight title fight on HBO pay-per-view.
HBO signed Ward to a three fight contract in October of last year, and since then the plan has always been to have Ward meet Kovalev for the third and final fight. Ward has been plagued by inactivity the past five years, but he closed out the 168 pound super middleweight division and this fight sees Ward try to establish himself in the next weight class up.
The first two fights of Ward’s HBO contract were used to give Ward a pair of fights to acclimate to the new division. Ward fought Cuba’s undefeated Sullivan Barrera and Colombia’s once beaten Alexander Brand, winning both fights comfortably by decision. Comfortably, but not in electrifying fashion.
For his part, Kovalev also fought two bouts to stay busy as he took out Jean Pascal for a second time and then went on to decision Isaac Chilemba in a fight that saw Kovalev return to Russia for a fight for the first time since December of 2011.
Both fighters got the job done, and HBO allowed it to happen. All year long the fight has been simmering. Bob Arum and Top Rank were ready to pull out all the stops for their November 5th Manny Pacquiao PPV against Jessie Vargas and they eventually did. They had to run with the PPV without HBO aboard, as cable executives elected to not clutter the calendar with another PPV date in November. Arum distributed the PPV without HBO, and the word is that the buys are right around 300k for Pacquiao vs Vargas.
Kovalev vs Ward Prefight
With all that HBO has put into this fight and it’s build-up, the number of pay-per-view buys becomes one of the more important figures of the year.
Another set of important numbers comes in the form of the fighters salaries. The rumor is that Ward is assured $5 million while Kovelv is getting $7 million. Those are significant numbers for two men that have never been known as major draws. The undera card, though packed with 9 other quality fights, is devoid of any big star power in support. From a crossover media stand point, the most notable fight on the card is the debut of two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields as she gets ready to make her professional debut at 168 pounds.
Awaiting the winner is the WBC’s world titleholder Adonis Stevenson. Stevenson is the third fighter atop the 175 pound division according to the respected Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and a match-up for the winner with Stevenson would serve to unify all the major world titles at 175 pounds. Stevenson has held the WBC version of the light heavyweight title since his June of 2013 match with Chad Dawson and he has held onto the belt for seven successful title defenses. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, the Kovalev vs ward fight is this Saturday.
Check out more details in this latest Talk’n’Shoot Boxing Podcast – edition #28.
Kovalev vs Ward Prefight / Check out moe boxing news and features at The Sweet Science.
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