Surprise! The highly anticipated showdown between light heavyweights Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward wasn’t a box-office smash!
In truth, expectations going into the fight were rather tempered considering that neither Ward nor Kovalev had been on PPV before and neither is a particularly big draw. So RingTV’s reported number of roughly 160,000 PPV buys certainly sounds about right.
It still is a bit of a shame, though. Kovalev-Ward was a truly competitive fight between two top pound-for-pound fighters which ultimately lived up to it’s hype, despite a rather controversial ending.
In that sense this number has to be at least a little disappointing because this fight truly represented the best of what boxing has to offer, even though it was absent any mainstream star-power to carry the promotion. So, just to put things in perspective, Manny Pacquiao’s perceived mismatch against Jessie Vargas just a couple weeks earlier did nearly twice as many PPV buys (roughly 300,000) than Kovalev-Ward did.
It is possible that the close proximity of those two PPV’s adversely affected the latter’s performance, but I don’t really buy into that theory. As good as both Kovalev and Ward are, neither one of them transcends the niche boxing audience, which I think has much more to do with the number of sales (or lack thereof).
Now, with all signs pointing towards a rematch, one has to wonder if Part II might not be better suited for a standard HBO telecast.