Main Events and Roc Nation target T-Mobile Arena for Ward-Kovalev
The heavily anticipated light heavyweight match between unified titleholder Sergey Kovalev and former super middleweight kingpin Andre Ward is becoming a little clearer with each passing day. The two have signed to meet on Nov. 19.
Now, a venue is nearly in place.
Co-promoters Main Events and Roc Nation have targeted T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, which recently hosted Canelo Alvarez’s knockout of Amir Khan, to stage the bout on HBO PPV. The promoters have a request with the Nevada State Athletic Commission to put a hold on the venue for Nov. 19. A hearing will take place next Tuesday with the commission to rule on the request. Roc Nation has a hold on Madison Square Garden for Nov. 19, but Duva said The Garden is no longer a consideration for the fight.
“We’ve decided once everything is finalized, that’s the best venue,” Kathy Duva of Main Events told RingTV.com on Thursday of T-Mobile, while adding of the bout’s implications: “I think the winner is the top pound-for-pound guy in the sport. I don’t know how anybody can deny it.”
Duva didn’t stop there. She sees the fight in grander terms, as finally putting a capper on the Floyd Mayweather Jr./Manny Pacquiao era. Mayweather and Pacquiao have stated they are retired. “This is the changing of the guard,” she said. “The days of Mayweather and Pacquiao — to me this is putting a stamp on it — it’s over. It’s high time someone new and interesting came along.”
Duva could see Ward and Kovalev fighting multiple times, though she wouldn’t discuss if a rematch clause exists in the contract. Kovalev is No. 2 in THE RING’S pound-for-pound rankings while Ward is fourth. “It certainly could happen,” said Duva, who handles Kovalev. “It looks like it would be an incredibly close fight. I can’t see one of these guys thoroughly dominating the other, much as I’d like to see Sergey do it. And so it’s the kind of fight that could turn into three fights in the blink of an eye. Maybe it will. But we’re getting way ahead of ourselves.”
Of course, before anything can happen, other fights must first take place. WBO/WBA/IBF champion Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 knockouts) is scheduled to face Isaac Chilemba on July 11 on HBO in Ekaterinburg, Russia. Ward (29-0, 15 KOs) is eying a tune-up on July 30 at Oracle Arena in his hometown of Oakland California, though no opponent or announcement has been made.
Ward, 32, won a comfortable decision against Sullivan Barrera in March; it was just his second fight since 2013. Even if Ward doesn’t fight again until Nov. 19, Duva thinks it will be a different version of the “Creed” actor than the one she saw against Barrera.
“Obviously, everyone saw Sullivan hitting him and the feeling is to say, ‘Well, if he can hit him, then Sergey can,'” Duva said. “On the other hand, he can’t punch like Sergey. I don’t think a fighter of Ward’s abilities is going to approach Sergey the same way he did Barrera. And Sergey said it himself, ‘I don’t think this is the same guy, I don’t think Andre showed us everything he has tonight,’ that’s what he said.”
Mitch Abramson is a former reporter for the New York Daily News and can be reached on Twitter at: @Mabramson13.